Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2004   by Robert Greenwood

Is Your Competitor in Trouble? Are You?

It is important that we do not let the weakest of the jobbers have such a high profile within the automotive aftermarket.


While I have had the privilege of knowing and working with many progressive jobbers in Canada, I have also known many jobbers that many people wish would exit the business.

As often as not, these jobbers are scrambling to survive, and embark on strategies that are wrong-headed and destructive.

There are a number of common characteristics shared by jobbers in trouble. It is important for shop owners, WDs, manufacturers and progressive jobbers to recognize these characteristics, because if they choose to deal with this individual, in the long run it will become a tremendous waste of time and money.

It is this group of jobbers that causes industry inertia to settle in.

The jobber level of our industry has a lot of issues that it must learn how to address. Perhaps it is time for all levels of our industry to speak up more frequently about these common characteristics; they end up tearing our industry apart, and causing us to waste millions of dollars. Too many WDs get caught in the rut of trying to please every jobber they come in contact with, which provides some short-term sales but, in the end, wastes the WD’s time and resources–time and resources that could have been focused on creating positive company initiatives and providing leadership within our industry.

But, as I said, there are some common characteristics that can help identify jobbers who are more likely to waste a WD’s time, and can end up reinforcing old habits instead of moving our industry forward.

Consider the following list to identify a weak jobber:

1. He fights change. He struggles to maintain the status quo within his store and defends the current state of affairs, but more importantly he opposes new approaches. This individual strives always to repeat the past and lives in the past.

2. He is “fixed,” inflexible. He takes a position and totally refuses to move from it. He will not bend at all. He is incapable of compromise.

3. He becomes defensive. He will guard against attack of any kind. He never wants to be questioned or challenged. He never moves forward or sticks his neck out.

4. He has personal problems. He drinks to excess; he has a “family problem,” and has developed a neurosis. He comes up with a secret problem about which he will say nothing.

5. He has no team spirit. He wants to do it all himself. He wants no suggestions, no criticism, and no help of any kind. Even a helping hand appears to be a threat to him.

6. He is “fat and lazy.” He has arrived. He is secure and confident of his corporation and its complete willingness to carry him for the rest of his life.

7. He is without imagination. He cannot or will not think creatively. He refuses to reach out and stretch his mind or broaden his horizons.

8. He won’t take a risk. He will not enter into competition of any kind. Suggesting a new product, or a new system, are actions too great to bear.

9. He is disorganized. He jumps irrationally from job to job. His time is fragmented, wasted. He begins a job at the middle, works on two jobs at the same time, and always does unimportant work first.

10. He has a poor understanding of people. He lacks the ability to listen and to hear the people with whom he works. He can’t be sympathetic or kind and therefore is rarely helpful.

11. He flies into rages. He fails to exercise emotional control. He rants and raves and insults his subordinates. He intimidates his peers. He is himself upset and unproductive.

12. He passes the buck. Whether it is a minor mistake or a colossal catastrophe, he either can’t or won’t accept responsibility or even casual involvement in it.

13. He refuses to learn. He knows it all and will always make an excuse not to attend new learning sessions. The most common excuses used by this person are, “I’m too busy,” “I’m short-staffed,” “I can’t get away,” and “It’s too expensive.”

14. His hand is always out. He thinks it is a good business practice to have someone else always subsidize his business. The fact is his business is not profitable enough to stand on its own two feet without industry subsidies.

The best jobbers in the country are void in these characteristics. The best jobbers see the opportunities that lie ahead. They go out of their way to appreciate good people, and to fully understand what return on investment in people and goods really is.

They take the time to participate and make the time to contribute to the industry. The best jobbers are always looking to learn and expose themselves to new information.

They seek to expand their personal and business horizons. They are reliable and their word is their bond.

It is important that we do not let the weakest of the jobbers have such a high profile within the automotive aftermarket.

Our industry has so much to gain by working with the positive, progressive jobbers who really want to make a difference by addressing issues that will contribute to our industry’s future.

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 www.ekw.ca 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 www.aaec.ca . Bob can be reached at (613) 836-5130, 1-800-267-5497, FAX (613) 836-4637 and by E-Mail: greenwood@ekw.ca or greenwood@aaec.ca.


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