The very best jobbers and the very best service provider owners have been caught in the middle of a “blizzard” for the past two to three years, and it appears it is not going to end very soon. They still must dig deep and find the energy, the stamina to continue their journey in order to enjoy their reward, which will be like “the warmth of the bright summer sun.”
What I mean is that both of these levels of our industry have seen businesses go through the turmoil, the upheaval, the stress of the changes required to move their respective enterprises forward. Due to the fact that they were not addressing the change required over the previous years and left it so long to tackle issues, it is like being in the dead centre of the worst winter storm ever. It is absolutely no fun at all, and it certainly takes its personal toll on management, physically and mentally wearing them down. However, they have managed to create success stories that are the envy of their peers. Now the challenge for these success stories continues, namely to get to the end of the storm and sustain this success level.
I have written many articles about the need for change. I have talked about the need for individual discipline and the need for individual focus. The top 20% to 30% of the industry has acknowledged that those points are very valid and very true. They have taken these points to heart, and have done what is necessary to become the best that they can currently be and at the same time maximize their business profits. That is how they got to where they are today. The real question that now comes up in many discussions is how to stay there.
The word that I found that really describes the solution to this question is “resilience.” Interpreting this term in the context of our industry has been beautifully defined by author Gary Hamel, who states, “Resilience is the ability to dynamically reinvent business models and strategies as circumstances change.”
Reinventing your business model really means positioning your business to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations and to be in a position to meet the challenges of tomorrow head-on.
One simple example in the jobber business is the requirement to reinvest in the business. Consider that the most important factor for a service shop, in its decision to do business with a chosen jobber, is whether that jobber stocks the parts it requires. Investment in inventory is an imperative, not an option. If the jobber does not have the stock, he loses the sale, period. You are forcing your customer base to shop somewhere else. This issue must be addressed in every jobber business. When the jobber does not stock what the service provider requires, the jobber is actually participating in adding cost to a shop’s business. It is called inefficiency. This is a huge concern for the independent shop, and it is measured regularly by the better shops. Discuss with your customer base what you must stock for them. Take the time to understand your customer’s business. Do not put yourself in the position of being forced to tell your best customers that the best you can do is get them a part by the morning because you simply do not have the parts in stock.
This is unacceptable to the better shops today.
“Dynamically reinventing the business model” today means you must create a checklist for yourself. Consider the following “Old Business Model,” compared to the “New Business Model.” Check off the items from the new business model that must be addressed. Create a priority list with a target completion date for each one.
Consider each one on its own merits and how it fits into your business in terms of supporting the development of the relationships required with the best shops in your marketplace, and your ability to create the value that you must deliver to secure first call business always. Don’t fool yourself with smoke-and-mirror justifications and excuses. Be brutally honest with yourself.
The world has moved on, and for many jobbers it is time to play catch-up. Jobbers in our industry must discover their resilience; jobbers must move to the new business model, and do it with focus, energy and self-discipline. If you choose not to embrace this reality, I challenge you to do the math and answer the question, where will your business be within three years?
If you are one of the jobbers who have been continuously ahead of the game, pat yourself on the back. However, don’t become complacent or arrogant. Never lose focus on the New Business Model, as you will not be allowed to drop your guard. The new business model takes no prisoners. You don’t lose, you die. You must ensure that the evolving new business model is in place, and that it stays in place based on how the aftermarket continues to evolve.
When one considers the changes in our industry and how we got to where we are, in terms of watching a movie and not just looking at a snapshot of the current state of affairs, resilience truly is the correct word for the jobber business today. Replay your movie from day one when you first opened the doors of your business. Pay close attention to the details of the plot, then see if you can now sit down and rewrite its ending. Don’t give up, as a great story becomes a blockbuster.
Make sure you dedicate yourself to making your business the box office smash in your marketplace.