Is Your Company Ready for 2008 and Beyond?Written By: Les L. Bebchick
Article Date: 12-03-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Warning: There is no room for complacency or mediocrity.
I am sad to say that this is my last article as AED Chairman. For each of the last 10 months, if nothing else, I have tried to be motivational and interesting, and have sincerely attempted to inspire my fellow AED members into more involvement and participation in AED activities. I hope that I have accomplished my task and that my message has evoked positive thought and action. I really appreciated the feedback each month, which signified that I had reached some of you.
I could not sign off without doing at least two things. First, I want to not only thank the membership for your support and confidence in me as Chairman, but to express my gratitude to Toby Mack and the entire AED Staff and the volunteer governance, both officers and directors, for everything they have done to make this such a fulfilling and productive year for me - and ultimately for the association. I cannot express how wonderful the experience has been and again, I encourage all AED members to explore participating on the governance level to experience, firsthand:
I am so proud to have been just a small part of the fine work that goes on everyday on behalf of our industry.
- How effective and involved we are in Washington - and that AED support on issues is sought after
- Our name is highly respected by the top of the political spectrum in both houses of government and all parties
- Participation with your Board of Directors and other Officers at the spring, summer, and fall Board meetings in some of the most thoughtful, engaging, and forward thinking brain-storming one could imagine
Second, I would like to impart a small piece of wisdom, albeit pretty obvious to most as we move forward into 2008 and beyond. Our industry is no longer that of mom and pop shops, whether it is our distributorships, our customers, or the manufacturers we represent. The level at which each operates has risen and I see the bar being raised further each year. From a distribution point of view, we need to be more educated; more cost- and performance-oriented; more technologically proficient within our offices as well as via the products we sell; more demanding of ourselves and our employees; more cost-conscience; and more competent on legal, accounting, human resources and statutory matters. We need to be at the top of our game in providing the best buying experience for our customers and provide superior after-sale service, thereby justifying the associated charge-out rates and costs associated with this service. Then we need to focus, focus, focus on collections and A/R - the lifeblood of all our businesses.
It is Time for Change, Growth and Reinvention
Our customers are getting smarter and more sophisticated every day. The Internet is becoming a tool that will continuously challenge us and keep us in check. The personal relationship factor that was relied upon decades ago has been challenged by creative financing, corporate group buying, lower prices but demands for higher service, Internet and direct buying, the new generation, credit cards, the global market and emerging competition, etc. - and all have a bearing on why we must continue to evolve, change and improve.
Our manufacturers will continue to make greater demands on us, too, which above all demands that we think smarter, do better, and understand the dynamics of what we face. Now and in the future, manufacturers will reject complacency, and we must do the same.
I think about how many things I'd like to do or change within my own company, but then contemplate how one action causes so many reactions -sometimes it just seems better to do nothing. Status quo can seem much safer than change.
And the only time that change may occur is in an emergency - but when it strikes, are your people there and ready to step up, or will they step out? Is your culture one in which everyone is pulling in the same direction? Employee longevity and retention of years ago has given way today to the General Motors scenario of high overhead and employee entitlement amidst marginal performance. No matter who I speak with, large or small, I hear this same thing. We must deal with these issues and decisions cannot wait.
The bottom line is that there is no room for complacency or mediocrity in our businesses. Challenge yourself, embrace change, and ask yourself the tough questions.
I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you each month and I hope that I have given you something to think about as we move into 2008. Equipped with the support of our organization, the lessons I have learned, and the tools I have gained from my participation in AED, I feel positive about the future. I hope you are too. As always, please feel free to e-mail or call me anytime.
With Respect and Gratitude,
Les L. Bebchick
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