Competition has always been tough, but today’s competition is fierce. Your competitors are using highly aggressive strategies to gain market share and doing all they can to outsmart you.
Your customers have changed as well. They are better educated, more discriminating, more cost-conscious, and have higher expectations. Meeting those expectations is not enough; exceeding them continually is the name of the game.
In the past, the customer ruled, but there’s no doubt that today, your customer has the power to determine to what extent you will succeed. Therefore, establishing a reputation for service excellence and delivering a consistently great customer experience is not optional; it is mandatory. This includes internal customer service as well. You can’t deliver it on the outside unless you deliver it to each other on the inside. It’s that simple.
Culture Trumps Strategy
In this environment, your culture can make you or break you. Dynamic leadership must be displayed.
Sales and marketing departments must be aligned. Employee involvement with initiatives is critical. Everyone must be dedicated to doing all they can to help the sales and parts and service departments, and you need to be sure your place of business is a great place to come to work each day.
More Has Changed
State-of-the-art technology, social media, and a highly creative website with great content are now critical tools and drivers of business growth. New and even more ultra-sophisticated technologies and marketing platforms are on the horizon. You will need to implement these, and it will be sooner than you think. When it comes to technology, you must learn, unlearn, and relearn.
Change the Way You Think About Training
Your company must become a learning organization and learn faster than your competitors.
You now need to consider training and certification for technicians as an investment in your future. You also need to work with the schools and The AED Foundation.
Your Company Itself Must Change
A company must be ready to implement any changes necessary to ensure success. Often, that means you must be quick to shift gears when and where needed, and definitely diversify what you offer. You must hire the best people, making sure you have a sophisticated hiring process as well as an “on-board” program. In the past, on-board programs were a practice for large corporations. This has changed too. Progressive dealer organizations are now using them as well.
So Much More – Always So Much More
So much more is required to create and sustain success in the equipment distribution business. For now, take this simple “yes” or “no” test to help you determine how well your dealership is positioned for a successful future.
1. Does your company excel in the Five Critical Success Factors for business growth and profitability?
Is dynamic leadership displayed by every executive and manager? Do they excel in the two sides of leadership – the strategy side and the people side?
Do you have a sales team that is far superior than any competitor’s team and is armed with industry and product knowledge as well sales and relationship-building skills?
Have you established a reputation for customer service excellence in every aspect of the customer experience?
Have you established a culture for high performance, with teamwork and internal service excellence?
Do you execute your competitive strategy and shift gears when necessary, as well as implement ideas for continuous improvement?
2. Have you consulted with your employees and your customers to help reach decisions with your strategic initiatives?
3. Have you conducted a competitive analysis of your three biggest competitors and determined and implemented what you can do to differentiate your business and be better than your competitors?
4. Have you diversified your offerings?
5. Are you using social marketing to the max in your sales, marketing and advertising practices?
6. Have you involved your leadership, sales, HR, CFO and customer service teams in creating your competitive strategy?
7. Are your sales goals and incentives aligned with your company’s marketing strategy?
8. Did your marketing team involve your entire sales team and service manager when creating a marketing plan?
9. Is training a part of your competitive strategy and are you involved with the Foundation?
10. Does your leadership team take the time to discuss strategic initiatives and constantly “talk up” service excellence?
11. Does your top executive communicate exceptionally well and explain why decisions are made throughout the company?
12. If management agrees to disagree with executive decisions, do they still fully support the company effort?
13. Do you and your company recognize that, where there are conflicting opinions, energy is created, creativity is stimulated, and the status quo is challenged?
14. Does everyone in your company know your competitive strategy and do they have the tools, technology, and training they need to excel?
15. Does everyone in your company support your competitive strategy?
16. Does your company have a diversified team, or several teams, working continuously to determine ways to make your strategy and initiatives work?
17. Does your company realize that such teams can take fragments of ideas and structure them into a wide variety of options and solutions to problems?
18. Does upper level management solicit, listen to, and respond to all ideas, selecting the best ones to implement?
19. Do you treat your employees as well as your best customers? Do you have a sophisticated hiring process and strive to establish a culture for high performance?
20. Does everyone in your company recognize that, regardless of how smart your competitive strategy may be or how great your sales and service department performs, it requires your entire workforce to create and sustain success?
21. Do you make every effort to be better, faster, and smarter than your competitors?
There could be 100 questions added to this list. But hopefully you’ve answered “yes” to the majority. If not, what’s holding you back from taking action on these important areas of business?
Only the best will be positioned for a successful future.