Don't Lose Your FocusWritten By Ron Slee
Article Date: 07-01-2004
Copyright (C) 2004 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
As the markets improve, we're going back to old habits.
As the parts and service business within dealerships picks up, we’re faced with the usual problems of just trying to keep up. And we’re returning to the methods, processes and procedures we’ve been using all along.
Those old habits are often time consuming and ineffective, and that’s why we need to maintain a firm resolve and keep focus. If we continue to do what we’ve always done, we will continue to get what we’ve always gotten. This is no longer acceptable.
Our businesses have changed. If nothing else, margins have shrunk and now, for the first time in a long time, we’re faced with equipment shortages. If we don’t get more proficient at handling parts and service, we’re going to regret it.
Jack Welsh, while leading General Electric, said, “If the world around you is changing at a rate faster than you are, the end is near.”
Is the end near? It might be if we don’t get serious about improving.
If we don’t, our competition will be actively pursuing our customers.
In Built to Last, Collins and Porras talk about “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” – BHAGS. Each one of the following is a “BHAG” and is a meaningful and worthwhile goal. They make a difference.
Market Coverage – Make sure at least 90 percent of parts and service customers are covered by an assigned person – either a product support sales person or a telephone sales person.
Flat Rates and Standard Times – Have at least 90 percent of the work that is done in your shops performed using standard times and provide a firm quote and completion date to your customers.
Parts Availability – Maintain the right level of inventory to satisfy customer needs. And don’t forget the rule: “We will find every part for every customer every day before we go home at night.”
Customer Satisfaction – Three to five days after you invoice a customer for repairs and maintenance, call to ask if they were satisfied. Dig out the complaints and fix the problems.
Customer Retention – Ensure you keep every customer you have today for the rest of the time they are in your market. Measure retention and make sure you act on things customers tell you they like and don’t like.
Employee Satisfaction and Loyalty – Nothing is possible without talented and committed people working hard to meet customer needs and expectations. Parts and service employees have the majority of customer contact. Without your “heroes” in parts and service where would you be? Make them happy and keep them happy.
There are many opportunities in front of us. Each of the above is critical to your success and the success of your customers. Focus your efforts and make the changes that are necessary. Don’t slip back into old habits.
In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins recommends a calm insistence on meeting goals. Nothing dramatic, just “good people on the bus” doing good work to meet customer needs.
Yes, it can be difficult, but just think of the satisfaction when you succeed in one of these goals.
Excerpted from July 2004 Construction Equipment Distribution.
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- We need to be more responsive to our customers’ needs.
- We must provide “peerless” parts supply and customer service.
- We must be the highest value provider of products and services.
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