Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2005   by Bob Greenwood

Does Your Future Make You Tense Or Intense?

The jobber’s role within our industry is changing rapidly. The average jobber must get his head around the idea of reformatting his management direction and skills.

The level of knowledge required to operate a successful jobber store will double over the next five years.

The owner of the store is no longer just going to be the owner, but will develop into a more prominent business professional dedicated to ensuring the store can secure a competitive market position, at a level that provides an excellent store return on investment (ROI).

Consider what a jobber is required to know today:

He must understand all the functionality of jobber store technology that must be implemented for management and measurement purposes. This is coupled with detailed requirements for a successful on-line parts ordering system that is connected to shop clientele.

New vehicle parts and modules will have to be stocked that meet high fit, form, and function standards, and he must also be capable of having a thorough discussion of these factors with the store’s staff and clientele.

He must completely understand his clientele’s business in order to build trust and earn the show owner’s respect for his competency. This, in turn, leads to a new level of collaboration with the jobber as he counsels shop clientele to improved shop profitability. Also, the jobber business must be capable of understanding and executing the value that is required for each shop client to secure his first call loyalty coupled with full monthly payment.

An effective jobber must also be able to understand and track trends in the aftermarket. He must be capable of keeping shop clients informed of obstacles and opportunities coming over the horizon in the current year and years to come, and have the tools available to help them take advantage of these. The future jobber becomes a resource centre for his clientele.

These are just a few examples of the challenging strategies that jobbers need to employ, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. The depth of knowledge and customer involvement that is required in order to be a financially successful jobber has definitely changed from the days of just stocking, selling and delivering parts.

Obviously, to many people throughout our industry these changes and challenges can create a great deal of stress to the individual jobber owner.

To address the stress issue I would like to bring to the table the question, “Is the stress of business changes causing management to be tense or intense?”

There is a very large difference between the two.

When management is intense, it runs its business direction and culture in a very focused manner. Management is going to go out there and react where required to all circumstances and just let things happen, because they know they are under control. Intense management is confident and employs focus throughout the business organization. Management clearly understands what must be done and how it is to be implemented, and this attitude flows throughout the organization. Management also understands the timeframe for implementation. This intense implementation of the direction and focus of the jobber store starts to attract and retain the best shop owners, who want to work with and support a business that has a clear understanding of the sector’s future and its direction. Their jobber provides the tools and support to improve shop business growth and profitability in a changing environment. Price is not the issue; working with the value the jobber provides is the shop’s benefit for its volume and cash loyalty.

Tense management may take the business out into the marketplace, but be very jittery in its approach. It risks displaying a lack of confidence in its ability to communicate a business’ direction not only for the jobber business, but also for its clientele. This will be clear to the best shops in the marketplace. Not much gets accomplished with this approach, in terms of jobber business or clientele improvements over the course of a year. In fact, many mistakes are made, by creating an environment where the jobber management and staff are constantly putting out fires with their customer base. The days in this industry for this jobber are surely numbered.

Today’s jobbers must invest the time and dollars to increase their personal business skills. The automotive aftermarket world is changing, and it is changing rapidly. Just as your shop clientele must stay on top of their profession in order to be successful, so must the jobber owner. Too many jobbers lack the personal initiative to continuously improve themselves and their business capabilities. As an industry, everyone must start to recognize that a successful jobber business today is a profession, not just a position.

As we enter the halfway point of the first decade of this new millennium, one must ask, “What have I done since the turn of the new century to improve my business and to enhance the value I bring to my client’s business?”

Try listing five positive points that you have achieved to improve your business, and five positive points that you have achieved that enhance the value your store brings to its clientele.

If you are stuck in the rut of same old, same old, then give your head a shake. The aftermarket sector today has no room for same old, same old.

As an industry, we must focus intensely on business relationships, business profitability, and personal lifestyles, and execute those things that are required to improve on the status quo.

I am shocked and frustrated at how many jobbers continue to have their hand out to the WD and manufacturer for annual subsidies to keep their business afloat. Obviously these jobbers are tense about business and current industry issues.

The best jobbers today are intense about the direction they must go, and are anxious to get on with the challenge. They understand the issues, and what is at stake. They are motivated and yet frustrated that so many people in our industry are content with the current state of management inertia.

We all need to recognize the importance of getting intense about today and our future. Beef up your desire to learn. Embrace the tools that give you the knowledge to move yourself and your jobber business forward. Get off your duff. Make it happen.

Robert (Bob) Greenwood is President and CEO of E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. and Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. Bob has 28 years of industry-specific business management experience. He has developed shop business management courses for independent service providers recognized as being the most comprehensive courses of their kind available in Canada. Bob is the first Canadian Business Management Consultant and Trainer to be recognized for his industry contributions when he received the prestigious Northwood University Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Award in November 2003. E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. offices specialize in the independent sector of the automotive aftermarket industry preparing analytical operating statements for management purposes, personal and corporate tax returns and business management consultation. Visit them at and sign up for their free monthly management e-newsletter. Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. is a leading edge company devoted to developing comprehensive shop management skills through the E-Learning environment. Visit AAEC at . Bob can be reached at (613) 836-5130, 1-800-267-5497, FAX (613) 836-4637 and by E-Mail: or

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