Panel and Paint
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you will have noticed there has been massive change in the collision repair industry – and almost every other sector. Well, get used to it: this is the new normal, and it's an election year!
biggest frustration as Prime Minister was MMP – apparently it's a dog of a system where they have to negotiate with a number of different parties to make anything happen and each has its own agenda.
No disrespect to John, but it's no different for the rest of us. Those who are good at it have strong relationships that bring them abundance, and those that aren't get treated accordingly, and struggle to make it through.
In the articles written so far this year I have endeavoured to introduce a number of aspects we don't normally think very hard about.
So instead of dragging yourself off to work each morning with the radio blaring out the latest music, news, or talkback, why not contemplate the higher levels of what you are doing? Opening up the doors at the workshop pays the bills, but can it be done better? Do the problems you face on a daily basis show any trends that can help you pinpoint the source of your frustrations?
What is it with marketing?
Marketing is a fascinating and very broad subject that touches nearly everything you will do. Last month's article “Business is Business, but Service is Personal” prompted many of you to check out my blog at www.onrequest.co.nz.
How do I know this? The website analytics are set to tell me what browser you used, which part of the country you are in, and how many times you came back to read more. My action (the article), and the reactions of those who went to the site, were all measurable. What you can measure you can control, and this is what marketing is all about. This article from 2013 might assist in your understanding of the new era of modern digital marketing: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/ marketing_sales/the_coming_era_ of_on-demand_marketing.
For better or worse, we are associated with some part of the collision repair industry. It‘s not the easiest market to be in, however there are some very good operators around the country, and many that have become very successful through their involvement. Having met or spoken with a number of them, I have noticed they share a common denominator – they all have a very similar attitude towards service – they make it personal.
They also shared the other attributes of successful business people: they discovered a niche they were passionate about, then plumbed its depths. They understood how to build relationships with those who matter, and how to build a team of loyal people around them. The businesses they built flourished despite the conditions of the day, because they were thinking about what they were doing, and made sound decisions based on what they were observing.
The impact of a major milestone
We have just witnessed a major event in our insurance industry, and although it made no difference to the hold the Aussies have on it, the balance of power is now substantially in the hands of one player. To some this will mark a significant change in the amount of work being directed to them, while others will need to make some tough choices as to their future in the industry.
Of course, none of this is the end of the world. It simply marks the closing of one door, and when you look around there will be yet another to be opened. In the April edition of this column I explained a method of quickly identifying the impact of business changes using a spreadsheet, and strongly suggested it was a good time to consider options in case the guy down the road presents a better case than yours.
Some took up my offer of the spreadsheet template, and it is still available by emailing me (pe[email protected] me.com). If you haven‘t done so already, now, with Spring just around the corner it's a great time to take a step back and review absolutely everything you are doing and have a restructure.
Comebacks can be costly
It may be that you identify comebacks as a weakness in your organisation. Recently a panelshop owner told me how a comeback cost him several thousand dollars when one of his top guys made a stuff-up he is hoping won't also cost him a major fleet customer. A simple error can be expensive or have huge consequences, and the tragedy is that many comebacks boil down to job management and communications.
Do you have a system in place that identifies what went wrong and the corrective actions taken to avoid a repeat? As mentioned before, what we can measure, we can control.
You don't have to be a marketing genius to figure any of this out, because it's all based on the practical application of logic. The repairing and refinishing of vehicles on its own is an easy to understand model, however the complexities of the marketplace, equipment, staffing and a host of other things, compounded by the need to grow (or contract) soon start to take over – hence the need for a periodic review.
With your marketing hat on and some pieces of paper, why not do that end-to-end restructure you have been putting off?
Your purpose with this exercise is to eliminate the frustration for everyone involved. And when it‘s done call in your team and get their buy-in with the opportunity to provide feedback from the coal face as to how the proposed changes will impact on their jobs. Ask what new equipment, technology, or products have they heard about that will make the incremental or monumental shifts you need to stay competitive or even put the enterprise in a new league?
Regardless of whether you made the cut or not, marketing and attitude are the basic keys to success. Then it’s about the twin bedrocks of priority and focus. Get these two wrong, and cash flow just doesn‘t seem to happen, so the troughs will overpower the peaks. Get it right, and it’s a whole new world of opportunity.
In summary, we live in a constantly evolving environment that even the Prime Minister finds frustrating! The good news is there is opportunity in turmoil, and an attitude of change as your friend, combined with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned marketing logic, will ensure there is enough food on the table!
When do you know if the parts supplied match the vehicle? When they arrive, or when its about to go back together on a Friday afternoon? Next question… is the Friday finish-up a breeze or always an ongoing hassle?
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