Auto Service World
Feature   March 10, 2016   by Andrew Ross


I received astounding news from my financial advisor in January: my investments were worth exactly what they were at this time in 2015.
My personal Wall Street Miracle saw my losers precisely countered by winners, with U.S. yields ably helped upward by the plunging value of the Canadian dollar. It was a balancing act worthy of Indiana Jones’ theft of the golden idol in Raiders of the Lost Ark, with one peril after another pursuing him out of that cave – culminating in a very near escape from a giant, relentlessly rolling boulder.
Mercifully, I have not been overly exposed to the energy sector – with its headlong downward roll over the last twelve months – and if you were, well, sorry to hear that. As I write this, oil has dipped below $30 a barrel, and heading southward. (Cue the boulder.)
Of course we’re all exposed to the whims of energy pricing, due to the overweighting of our national economic reliance on that sector, even as we await a rise in manufacturing buoyed by the dubious benefits of the low Canadian dollar.
According to Scotiabank economic analyst Mary Webb in her January report, “In Canada, the three major oil-producing provinces – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador – expect to shift from an estimated CDN$0.3 billion combined surplus in fiscal 2014-15 (FY15) to a C$8.3 billion deficit in FYI6. For FY17, concerns already are emerging on the effort required to significantly scale back the red ink. Conversely, the other seven provinces anticipate a CDN$2.25 billion bottom-line improvement during FY16, narrowing their combined shortfall to C$8.5 billion.”
It is, say some, all just a signal that the global economy is in transition; but like all transitions, there will be winners and losers.
The near-future prospects are strong, but the immediate conditions are a bit tricky. How you navigate this period will be a strong determinant of how well you are able to take advantage of the growth just around the corner.
So here are five things I believe you should do to be prepared:
1 Ensure that your technology is current.
Transitions tend to drive generational change in
businesses, as older incumbents exit and pass
the torch. Make sure your tools and your ability
to use them are in sync, with a shift to younger
managers and owners.
2 Customer service will always be first on the list
of what you do, but what that means is changing.
Understand that for many, better customer
service means less human contact. Ensure you
know how those changes affect your business.
3 Ensure that your succession plan is well in place.
As with your customers, you may also be seeing
the coming rise in economic outlook as an
opportunity to transition the ownership of your
business. Make sure you and your business are
positioned for it.
4 Learn all you can about telematics and what it
means for your business. I know we have been
talking about it for quite a while, but it is too
important to leave anywhere but top of mind.
5 Close the gap between your e-tailing ordering
capability and fulfillment – the front end and
back end, as it were. Those organizations that
are able to realize the promise of e-tailing first
will quickly outpace those who delay, probably
There’s a world of competition rushing up behind you. You need to invest time and, yes, money, into your business to keep driving it forward, even when progress looks like standing still. The alternative is simply unfathomable. nJN

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