Equipment Will Still Need Support in 2008Written By: Ron Slee
Article Date: 12-03-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Pundit predictions are plentiful - but one thing we can count on for sure is the opportunity to serve customers even better next year.
I am constantly amazed at the definitive economic forecasts that fly around at this time of year. It is bad enough that we are in a political season and everyone who is anyone can tell us how good or how bad everything will be. Imagine: I believe even "experts" in our industry got in the game and predicted a recession next year. I always wonder what it must be like to be so certain about such complicated issues.
One thing I do know is that no matter what happens in the economy, equipment will be working somewhere. I imagine it will be working where you are, too. That is the truth, isn't it? And if equipment is working, the machine will need parts and service. So let's get over all the pundits and the forecasts and get down to work.
In 2008, I would sincerely hope that we can provide better service to our customers. Quicker response on the telephone, faster sourcing of parts, more responsive field servicemen, more promises being met - you know, the usual stuff.
We have just concluded another survey of the market with AED and the results will be coming out soon. The last time we did this type of survey was in 2002 and the results were published in the Product Support Opportunities Handbook. I am told it was a big seller. It provided survey data on customer needs and wants for many aspects of the parts and service business. The Handbook also provided a tool for dealers to calculate their market opportunity.
The thing that gives me hope about next year and, in fact, each year in parts and service is that we have a lot of opportunity in the markets we serve. We do not have all of the available parts or labor business. In fact, we aren't even close to having half of the market in our hands. That is a positive thing from my perspective - it means we can do a better job and be rewarded with more business, no matter what the economy does next year.
Change Brings Challenge
The equipment is getting much more complicated through improved technology - it operates better and cleaner, and with more power at lower cost. The changes have been almost unbelievable.
But these changes come with a serious responsibility. We have to provide the services and the availability of parts to keep the equipment running for our customers. As the equipment becomes more capable and more cost effective, it also becomes more indispensable. That is where we come in.
Yes, I want to have a maintenance agreement on every machine so that I can be ahead of the curve and avoid catastrophic failures. Through regular maintenance as prescribed by the suppliers, and with oil sampling we can predict and therefore avoid failures. This is a good thing. This also allows us to get more into the business of having the parts on hand as we need them and having to "emergency" order parts less frequently.
We are using technology more amongst ourselves, as well. We share inventory availability information so that we can source parts from each other as well as from our suppliers, reducing the time we have to wait for a part.
Remember my first rule in the parts department? Find every part that every customer has ordered that day and tell them before you go home. That would be terrific. If only we did it.
We must become more responsive and predictable in our service offerings as well. Customers tell us this is very important to them. If our customers want a quote, give it to them. If they want to know when their machine will be ready, tell them. And one more thing: Have it ready when you said it would be ready and for a price that equals the quote. That would be terrific, too. If only we did it.
I am hopeful that 2008 will be the year we finally turn the corner and deliver on our potential. Potential is a wonderful word, isn't it. I remember someone telling me when I was a teenager that I had potential. That was a good thing. But imagine if someone were to say the same thing to me now. Wouldn't we all be wondering what I had been doing for the past 40 years?
How about you? Do you have tremendous potential? Well, how about using it this year?
[ TOP ]