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

MYOB: Challenge Your Customers To Think Ahead

Challenge Yourself To Do The Same

Many jobbers continue to run their business the old-fashioned way, focusing on price, price, price, and sales, sales, sales, selling to anyone. What they end up with is out-of-control receivables and very weak or no profitability.

They get all the stress and none of the results. They refuse to focus on the relationship/value equation that they can deliver to their customer base. These jobbers will find their bottom line continuing to erode, getting weaker every year until it doesn’t exist anymore.

By that time it will be too late for them, and they are probably already whining to their WD or manufacturers’ sales representatives, blaming anyone and everyone but themselves for their weak financial situation. Their best solution to the world seems to be ” give me a better price”. Let’s face it, they just don’t get it yet.

Focusing on your business relationships will drive more net profit to the individual jobber business than just focusing on price and sales to anyone. I know that to many of you that doesn’t make sense, but you have to consider the question, “Are you in business to create activity, or are you in business to create net profit?” You are a business person, aren’t you?

It often seems that net profit is a foreign word to the jobbing sector; that it is a dirty word to the jobber. Return on investment is not a phrase to be discussed in the jobbing sector, as too many jobbers focus on the price issue and mess up the entire marketplace. They won’t admit that they buy themselves a job.

They just do not know how to do the math. Their relationships with their customer base are not in place. These jobbers refuse to change and realign their way of thinking. These jobbers are hurting the best jobbers in our industry in terms of perception as to what the jobbing business is all about today in the eyes of the average service shop. It is time for the best jobbers to start screaming at these guys who are messing it up.

Are you in business to create activity, or are you in business to create net profit?

Consider what could be done for our industry if each jobber focused on the relationships in his marketplace to ensure he got first call, always, from his chosen service shop clientele, and worked with the service shop to move its business forward. A base of successful and profitable service provider shops means a successful and profitable jobber business.

Challenging and supporting your clientele to rise to the next level will enhance their profitability substantially when they follow it through, and when they are profitable you can become very profitable. The question is, how can the jobber encourage his service shops to start the process to think ahead?

Consider the following series of questions. They should be discussed in a one-on-one meeting with the service shop owner away from his business. This will be at least a two- to three-hour discussion.

1. What is the image and perception of your business now in the mind of your customer, and what do you desire it to be? How can I (your jobber) help you accomplish that goal? How can you improve your image and how can I help you to improve it?

2. How would you like your business to be, and how would you like it to be perceived by your customers and clients, your employees, and other businesses in the community? How can I, as your jobber, help you accomplish this perception?

3. How would you like your employees to be, and how would you like them to be perceived by your customers and clients and the community? How can I, as your jobber, help you accomplish your objectives?

4. How would you like to manage your business to achieve the business and employee profile, and client perception, you wish? How can I, as your jobber, help you accomplish this objective?

Many jobbers are uncomfortable even attempting to get involved in this level of discussion with their service shops. They don’t think their customers could even think in such a context. This tells you what these jobbers think of our industry, but more specifically, what they think of their customer base. If you are guilty of this type of thinking, may I respectfully ask what playing field you are on today?

Successful jobbers have an excellent business relationship with their clients and work hard to keep their clientele moving in the direction that drives net profit to their bottom line. These jobbers’ clients recognize and truly appreciate the efforts the jobber is making. The service provider and jobber have a sincere business relationship and not just a sales relationship. I can assure you that the stress level between the jobber and his service shop clientele is nowhere near the stress level of the other jobbers in the industry. Profit/value-driven jobbers coupled with profit/value-driven service shops make for excellent business, profitability, and lives.

It is time to move the jobber sector to the next level. Let’s get on with it. The very survival of the independent service shop and the independent jobber is at stake here. Don’t slough this off. It will be the biggest mistake we all make.

Robert (Bob) Greenwood is president and CEO of E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. and Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. Bob has more than 27 years of business management experience within the automotive industry, counseling individual shops in Ontario, and has developed business management courses for the independent maintenance and service sector proven to enhance the shops’ profitability and grow the business. Bob has also worked with wholesale jobbers on how to do a better job for the service provider by providing valuable insight as to the real challenges faced by the retailer today.

E. K. Williams & Co. (Ontario) Ltd. offices specialize in the independent sector of the automotive industry, preparing analytical operating statements, personal and corporate tax return completion, business management consultation and employee development. Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. is devoted to developing automotive shop business management skills through the e-learning environment of the Internet at

Bob can be reached by e-mail at or

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