We just received our latest readership survey figures back and, let me tell you, they again prove to be both enlightening and reaffirming. Enlightening in what you, the reader, told us about your business and reaffirming in terms of what you told us about Jobber News.
First, you told us that you are very happy with Jobber News. Once again, the vast majority of you (85%) read every issue of Jobber News and it is your undisputed preference in magazines about this business. As flattering as this is, however, what’s more revealing is where your priorities are.
In short, you want any information you can get your hands on that will help you run your business better or sell products more effectively. In our research, we broke this down by categories–sales training, inventory control, staffing, etc.–but the basic message was that you know that new products are a key component of building your business, but it is only through effective management that you’re really going to prosper.
Equally enlightening was the influence you have on what your customers are purchasing. Among the leading lines you sell–brakes, paint, chassis parts, exhaust, etc.–you told us that you have a very strong influence in which brands your customers buy. While this should come as no surprise–it is essentially the same response to the question that we’ve had in previous surveys–its importance can not be overstated. Above all, your customers trust you. Keep that trust and you shall prosper. Fritter it away with bad decisions and ye shall pay the price, twice.
Increasingly, too, there is diversity among your customers.
Compared to the 1998/99 survey, the percentage of jobbers involved in selling to businesses outside the automotive aftermarket is up. For example, 80% of you serve industrial markets, up from 64% only a couple of years ago. The percentage of jobbers serving agricultural customers is also up, to 66% from 45%. That’s the story across the board, from heavy-duty markets to small engine repair: diversity is up. While this may be out of necessity, with aftermarket business growth being more a concept than a reality lately, it does point to a promising versatility among the jobber community and a very strong survival instinct. Give yourselves a very well-deserved pat on the back.
With growth being a key pillar of capitalism, it should come as no surprise that there has been a noticeable change in the size of jobber businesses. There are now more branches doing more than $1 million in sales a year than below that threshold. Our last survey indicated that 64% of jobber outlets were under that magic million-dollar mark. That compares to just 29% now. That is an important change, even if one allows for some changes in statistical sampling. The small jobber may still be there, and still be an important part of the industry, but the economics are taking their toll.
This is only a sample of the results. The survey’s findings, which go on for 100 pages in tabular form, tell us a lot about the Canadian aftermarket, but mostly what it tells me is that changes have been dramatic and unceasing. It also tells me that some things remain the same.
Namely that those businesses, those people, who take care of their customers and look for opportunities, whatever they may be, will prosper. And that has always been the way.
We dive under the hood in March in search of opportunities. We also dive into training to prepare for ASE Parts Specialist Certification.
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