Have you examined how your jobber business is perceived by, or how it influences, your installer marketplace lately? When you pay attention to detail and truly understand whom you are selling to, your business volume and profits will go up and your stress level will come down.
Too many jobbers have never sat at or understood the other side of the table. They only see their side and of course, they take the attitude that everyone else out there is the problem. They still think in terms of the 1980s and run their business accordingly. Sit back and honestly ask yourself whether you are conducting your business relationships with your installer customers in the manner that is required today to grow a profitable, professional jobber business. Here are seven quick points that will help you to see if you are guilty of creating negative relationships with your customers in your marketplace.
1. Cold calls by sales reps: Do your field representatives just walk into the installer’s business and expect the installer to drop everything that they are doing and bow to them? Good installers are busy but organized people, and insist on conducting their business in a productive way. Therefore, they expect appointments to be made. Their time is valuable. Therefore, they want to use it wisely each day. You lose credibility with good installers when you do not show respect for their time and conduct yourself accordingly.
2. Do you offer gimmicks instead of viable solutions? The jobbers who go to market with toys and trinkets very seldom attract the best installer businesses. Simply offering leather jackets, t-shirts, hats, sport glass drink sets, or a possible chance to win a trip to a NASCAR event is an absolute insult to the intelligence level of the installer. After the jobber leaves, the good installers just snicker and laugh, and say, “They just don’t get it. When I increase the net profit of my business and have the solutions I need to grow my business in a controlled fashion, I will clothe myself, and fly myself to the NASCAR event. Mr. Jobber, what part of this picture do you not understand?” Good installers are trying to be the very best that they can be by seeking answers and solutions to the issues of their business. What do you bring to the table to assist them? Assisting them to build a prosperous business enhances your relationship. When relationships are enhanced, first calls and loyalty increase.
3. Weekly visits by sales reps: Are you guilty of putting your field representatives into a robotic system with your installers? Many shops do not want to see your representatives every week, but you never asked. They may only want to see him every two weeks or even once a month, but again, you never asked. There is no use showing up every Wednesday morning between 10 a.m. and 10:15 am, just because the representative is doing his rounds. This can be very unproductive to the installer who doesn’t need or want it, because all they talk about is last night’s hockey game or other non-business related things, and the rep thinks he is doing installer PR. This creates cost and inefficiency in your business as well. Good installers are finding that if the rep is a nuisance, they just say a quick “Hi” and keep on working. Make your store representatives more productive and enhance the installer relationship with your business by simply asking your installer “When do you want our people to come in, because your time is valuable, and we want to ensure that both our times are always as productive as possible.”
4. Slow credit handling. Are you guilty of not having your internal house in order? There is nothing more annoying to the good installers than having a jobber who owes them credits, and the credits do not appear on the current monthly statement. The installer wonders why the jobber does not recognize the fact that “the credits are my money, and he owes them to me. How dare you say you will correct it on next month’s statement, when meanwhile you want this statement paid in full?” Even if you have to write the credits in by hand on the statement, get them in. The better installers will not tolerate sloppy business management practices at your end.
5. Nasty counterpeople: Have your counterpeople been trained to understand that the installer customer is the client? The installer has the potential to bring $8,000 to $20,000 per month in business if he is serviced well from all aspects of your jobber business. It seems that too many counterpeople in this industry do not respect the shop that calls in. It is very annoying to a shop when he calls the jobber and the telephone is answered with “hold please.” Have we lost basic business courtesy and respect for one another in this industry? Organize your counterpeople and your internal counter system so you conduct your affairs over the telephone in a professional manner. Train the counterpeople to understand whom are they selling to. Should we be quoting this installer first line, second line, or third line pricing? What does the installer want based on their customer? Slow down, build the relationship and ensure that the counterpeople understand the big picture and the possible consequences of their actions with the installer on the jobber business, the business that employs them.
6. Unhelpful drivers: Is your business guilty of not training your drivers on your store’s basic business policies? It is very annoying to an installer when they ask the driver–who they see three, or four times a day–a simple question regarding store policy only to be greeted with a blank stare and the reply “I don’t know. Phone the office.” Now the installer must waste his time trying to track someone down, usually the sales rep, to find out. Telephone tag takes place. As in your jobber business, time is money in the installer business too. There really is no excuse for not having your front line troops, the ones who see the installer the most from your store, armed with basic information about your policies on returning parts or how warranties or credits will be handled. Train your people.
7. Keeping counterpeople who continually mess up: This can be a tough one, but it is an issue out in the installer world. You have an employee that has been with you 10, 15, 20 years or longer. This employee is honest and reliable to you, and has worked well with you over the years. However, he is just not keeping up with the technology that is entering the cars of today. He thinks he knows what the installer is asking for on the telephone and sends it out. The installer gets it and it is the wrong part. The fact is that the installer ordered the right part for the job, but the counterperson messed up because he is not up to date with the current parts. Now the installer must spend the time, send the part back, and incur more costs waiting for the right part to arrive. You, the jobber, are now creating inefficiency in the installer’s business. This is one cost the average installer cannot afford. You are actually part of the installer’s problem. This kind of issue can actually force a good installer to seek out another supplier, and perhaps that other jobber will end up impressing the installer with their business methods so much that you lose the installer altogether.
To succeed in building installer volume, be paid in full each month and retain first call loyalty with the better installers today, the jobber must “come to the table,” and sincerely make the effort to truly understand his customer/client. Don’t be one of those jobbers who gives lip service to this issue. I have heard too many jobbers put all installers into the same leaky boat. This is wrong. There are many good installers out there. Many progressive installers are trying to seek out the competent jobber with whom they can build a business relationship.
Look at your own business. Talk to your best installers and examine the issues affecting them. Are you offering them sound business solutions that enhance their business? If you are, I’m sure the word is out and your business volume is
up along with your profits. If you are not, I’m sure your volume is down, and you’re pointing to all the perceived outside issues affecting your business.
Express your entrepreneurial instincts. Be creative, seek out solutions, solve your installers’ business issues, and watch your business grow.