Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2003   by Auto Service World

It Is Time to Stop Selling and Really Make Some Money, for You and Your Customers

Jobbers across our country must come to realize that it is time to move on from the traditional way of running a jobber business, and raise the bar to accomplish everything the business is capable of being.

Most jobbers love to sell; they see themselves as parts sales people. “Got to close the deal” is the traditional way of thinking. Progressive shop owners, on the other hand, really detest “closers” who come across with this mission. This mission is perceived to always favour the salesperson, not the shop.

Marketing guru Philip Kotler, professor of international marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill., sums it up this way: “The shortest definition of marketing is finding unmet needs and filling them. It’s a whole mind-set where you succeed not by making what everyone else makes but by finding something you can sell that people want and others don’t offer.”

Consider this statement carefully, and imagine the possibilities for the jobber business and its shop clientele. Marketing enables jobbers to compete on something other than price.

Consider marketing “business solutions” as a business concept, as discussed in the June issue of Jobber News:

personal counselling on achieving the correct shop gross profit

the importance of, and how to, measure shop efficiency

how to increase productivity at the front counter of a shop

how to implement and establish tiered pricing within the shop

measuring accounts receivable profitability and effective management

guidance to establishing the correct financing in a business

improving shop profitability with inven-tory management by line

how to select computer hardware for the shop and the shop’s office

getting to know the various computer operating systems on the market today

how to, and the value of, using e-mail

how to make the most of the Internet

how to establish better customer relationships with a quarterly educational letter

Consider that jobbers are not well known for thinking and breathing “customer” every minute of the day, yet they sit back and say they must provide good or better customer service. Why do so many fail to achieve the outstanding level they like to talk about? It really takes special leadership from within the business to drive the message home. The fact is a jobber today is in a competitive environment for all the shop’s business. Cherry-picking shops are just not profitable in the end. It is all the business paid in full each month at the right margin that makes a jobber business profitable.

So how does a jobber create this shop loyalty?

Read carefully the article about John Cochrane again. He is “Jobber of the Year” for a very good reason. John has worked very hard on making his business distinctly different. Notice Mr. Cochrane’s line of thinking is always toward his clients’ business and their well-being. Mr. Cochrane is not going to market based on the price of parts that he sells. He is marketing his business by differentiating it from other jobbers in his area of Toronto, and seeking out the shops that desire that level of quality, value, and type of business relationship. The fact is that not everyone wants this type of relationship; however, there are more shops every year who come to realize and understand that this is the way to do business with a jobber. Then they go looking for the right jobber for them. Traditionally, the weaker shops will pass on this value of services because they are totally lost in their own forest and will not trust any jobber to a proper business relationship. No doubt about it, time is working against those shops, as well as the jobbers that cling to them so desperately.

Marketing in business today sometimes actually drives new wants. Shop owners just have never heard of it being done before, nor realize that it was even possible from a jobber. Perhaps it is time for more jobbers to review their personal and internal skills to see what the possibilities could be in bringing a real unique level of value to the marketplace.

Selling is the common, well known tradition of the aftermarket industry that is creating tension between a jobber and the shop customer, and the shop and their customer; marketing is an unspoken hero that could change all that.

Consider from a shop’s point of view what would happen if they marketed their business on a value level instead of price specials. Value brings in net profits, while sale prices only create activity and stress in a shop (coupled with potential business failure). Instead, the shop can differentiate itself from others by marketing services people need, such as:

managing the customer’s vehicle for them, based on customer expectations and needs

maintaining a complete vehicle service history, which in turn can be used when selling the vehicle, leading to a better sale price

educating and counselling the customer about specific preventative vehicle needs

establishing a working vehicle maintenance budget for the customer

The concept is that it creates a whole new level of doing business and the educated shop owner; and their clientele have got to admit it sure beats selling.

Consider talking up the marketing aspect of your jobber business and not trying to just rely on selling.

The jobbers I know who have moved to this mind-set have not only changed their bottom line substantially; they have put the fun and productive challenge back into their business. Oh yes, one final point: these jobbers changed their customer’s bottom line as well, and reduced their own business stress substantially.

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