Every business has its strengths, but do you know what yours are? Do you know how to capitalize on them?
Jobbers have the opportunity to truly assist an installer in marketing his or her business in a very focused and professional way. Yet too many jobbers try to slot every installer into the same category and then wonder why things didn’t work out the way you thought they should have for the time and money spent.
When coming up with a plan to market a business in this industry, you truly have to know where you are and where you are going. If you fail to develop a clear path to follow, the business will drift. Consequently, time must be spent developing a vision for the business.
Here are some initial questions you and your staff should ask to help you get started devising a business marketing plan for your installer, or quite frankly, even your own jobber business.
1. If we asked our customers to list our business strengths, what would they write?
Take your time on this one, because too many times, we fail to look at what we do well. Everyone in our industry has the natural tendency to dwell on the negative. Stand tall and list what you do well.
2. Of all the strengths listed, which three would our customers list as the strongest?
What are you well known for, the things that you do exceptionally well above all the competition out there?
3. What are our business’ weaknesses in the minds of the customers we serve today?
Take the chip off your shoulder and answer openly and honestly: Where do you mess up? Remember that it is the customer who pays us. We must acknowledge our weaknesses if a resolution is going to be put into place to move the business forward.
4. Of all our weaknesses, which three do our customers most frequently mention?
You can’t straighten out everything overnight, so focus in on the most “cancerous” problems first and watch for a positive reaction from your customers.
5. What strengths do we have that those we serve don’t know about?
It is amazing how many people in the owner/manager position assume everyone knows what the company or business offers. This is a weakness in management’s ability, where in fact they do not let people know what and how they do things that makes them distinctly different from the rest in the trading area. When you assume too much you know what happens, so why not define your strengths: make a list of what you might think everybody knows, but you didn’t actually tell them.
6. What assets do we have that people want? What assets do they need?
Who are you selling to? What do your customers really want when dealing with your business? As you are the expert, what do you know you have that they really need, but have failed to market recently to your customers? You must also ensure that you are positioned right to deliver to their requirements and their expectations. Analyze the depth of what your store can offer, your customer’s shop, and define what you bring to the table that others in the same business do not.
7. What is your business’ mission?
In other words, why do you come to work Monday morning? What is your purpose, your vision over the next five years as to where you want the business to go? What will it look like in the year 2005? Clearly define it in writing, as the written word forces you to crystallize your thinking, and outlining the direction that must take place day to day in your operation is the only sound way you will reach the ultimate goal. It has been proven repeatedly that vision without action is a daydream, and action without a clear vision will turn into a nightmare.
8. Given our strengths, weaknesses, marketable assets and mission, what three goals seem appropriate for our business?
Now you should have a customized marketing package. Write some professional text, defining, educating and informing the marketplace about your business.
This version of marketing forces you to clearly identify a path to follow rather than putting little thought into a marketing program and ending up classifying everyone as the same.
This process will also give substantially better results for the time and money spent. It’s an important investment in your future.
In the face of modern competition, you can count on these four inescapable facts:
Your installer customers expect sharply higher levels of service/quality from you.
Your competitors are constantly working and advertising to entice your customers from you with higher perceived value than you have been offering.
To the victor will go the spoils.
If you are at or near the top of the industry in your market area and don’t have an aggressive plan to dramatically improve your service/quality levels, you are already falling behind and heading for serious trouble.
The industry is changing, the installer is changing and you too must change if you are going to grow and be profitable. Understand your installer customers’ business clearly so you can be pointed out by them as the one jobber who understands the installer business and knows how to get results to the installer’s bottom line.