A Challenge Only You Can TackleBy Ron Slee
Article Date: 12-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Listen to your customers' real priorities, and make them yours.
A challenging year is nearly behind us, an election is finished and the world continues to work at its many financial and political struggles, but there’s one thing I’d like to know – and it’s something I’ve been concerned about for several years: Where are the new ideas and new leaders? It seems there are cycles in play other than those of economics. About every 25 years we seem to enter into a fresh era of new ideas and excitement. I miss that feeling of excitement. Don’t you? The first one I was involved with started in the late ‘50s and the early ‘60s, the “Kennedy” time. It was an exciting time. Then we had the ‘80s, the “Reagan” time. In both cases we had strong, charismatic leaders challenging us to do more than we thought we could, asking us to take the country, in our own way, to places it had not been before. That is the principle task of leaders: To take us to places we wouldn’t get to on our own. I am hopeful that we can start this cycle again, and very soon. It is needed. Challenging times are a test of character not theatrics. A wise man said that, and I think it is the very glove on the ground that we need at this time.Customers – they need to be our focus. Not the world that we can’t control but the world that we can. Satisfy your customers and you will feel good about yourself and your job every single day. But what does that mean?Again, I want to draw your attention back to the beginning of the year with AED’s publication of the Product Support Opportunities Handbook. In the service department, for the first time in my experience, the customer put responsiveness ahead of price. They want us to be responsive to their needs more than anything else. How responsive are you? I believe that even today or within the last week every one of you turned down a customer job because you couldn’t get to it in the time that the customer required. Isn’t that a terrible statement? Their second requirement is price but not in a “low price” manner – rather, with an emphasis on value and on predictability. That means they want a fixed price before they give approval for the work. They want a “flat rate.”In the parts department, the priority continues to be availability. And in this arena, more than at any time in my career, we face great challenges. Even in this slower market here in North America there are families of parts that are sold out worldwide. Imagine that if you can? But it’s true. Look at mining tires over the past five years. Look at major components and internal repair parts. This is when our skills and our systems can be brought to bear and we can earn the customer business. Find every darned part that every customer wants, and do that before you go home at night. Do that every single day.Now More Than Ever
I believe that our customers need us now more than ever before. I believe this is an opportunity for us to show how good we can be. Don’t ever forget that we have responsibility for the complete machine, and as the “authorized” equipment dealer we are the only ones who have that responsibility. Everyone else is like a vulture picking away at anything they can get of our customers’ business. I am tired of letting that go unchallenged, aren’t you?We need to become closer to our customers. We need to have more market coverage, not less, especially in these times of stress. Our customers need our support and knowledge to help them make money in the challenging times they’re facing. Stop and contemplate their challenges for a moment. It’s tough for them, too. I have a simple admonition to every single one of us in the parts and service business: This is our time. We need to stand up to the challenge and become the best supplier in our industry and in our territory. We need to become more knowledgeable, more professional, more courteous, more able, and yes, happier. That is my wish for the coming year for each of you. I am thankful that 2008 is over and I await the arrival of 2009 with extremely high expectations. Care to join me?
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