If Everything Is Important... Nothing Is - Aftermarket
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If Everything Is Important... Nothing Is

Written By: Ron Slee

Article Date: 09-04-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Determine what's truly important to your success.

As we look forward to 2007 and the wonderful planning sessions that will be happening over the coming months, I want to challenge each of you. What could you do that would make you the Number One supplier to your customers from a dealership's perspective. That's right - from the dealership's perspective. This column is normally dedicated to product support issues and opportunities, but I want to broaden the context this month.

We are constantly challenged with daily issues: getting parts, giving advise, performing repairs, controlling expenses, reviewing performance, creating budgets, and on and on. And we all recognize that there are challenges between departments. The sales department makes promises service can't possibly accommodate. Not being able to find skilled technicians, not being allowed to hire more people even if they're needed for customer service, not having
enough money - all issues to deal with.

What have you done recently to become the best supplier to your customers? My suspicion is you're just nibbling around the edges. To go back to the book "Built to Last" (Porras and Collins), we have not made any BHAG's; Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Nor have we found any Thematic Goals (from the book "Silo's, Politics and Turf Wars" by Lencioni).

Well, it's time to explore what needs to be done to be the number one supplier to your customers.

In my July column, I talked about the balanced scorecard. The primary thrust of my use of the balanced scorecard is to start with the customers and ask them "What do you want/need for us as a supplier/ partner in order for your business to succeed?" So what do they want/need from us? Have you asked or do you just assume you know?

It's important that you ask and then listen carefully because they will tell you very clearly what it is you need to do and that will tell you what it is you need to excel in to satisfy those needs/wants.

I would then suggest you create a "Thematic Goal." This is a short-term goal that everyone in the dealership can rally around and work towards. The thing that you will find interesting about this is that a "Thematic Goal" is not something that is quantitatively measurable; it is subjective, qualitative and not necessarily measurable.

The theme I'd ask you to consider is "Improve Customer Satisfaction."

I know, you're thinking "How do I know whether or not I'm succeeding?" Ask your customers and employees these questions:

  • Are they happier with your work?
  • Are your invoices clear and easily understood?
  • Is your employee turnover down?
  • Is your customer retention up?
  • Are more people coming to look for work at your company?
  • Are your employees happy and cooperative in their work?
Start with your employees in Parts and Service. What do they want/need to make their jobs easier? Remember the "service profit chain?" Employee satisfaction and loyalty creates service value which develops customer satisfaction and loyalty and that delivers profit and growth.

So start with your employees. Develop your own lists from their input. Then ask your customers and develop a list from their input. Then execute - execute - execute.

I think we'll see some slowing in the coming months and it's important to establish a plan that allows us to continue to grow the parts and service business irrespective of overall market conditions. Start growing your market share in parts and service because you have become the Number One Supplier to your Customers.

If you aren't the Number One Supplier to your Customers? Someone else will be?

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Article Categories:  Customers/Contractors  »  Product Support