Simple truths will define your business success, says noted speaker Donald Cooper. Cooper, who opened the Automotive Industries Association’s Ontario Grand Forum in Toronto, Ont., said that while managing a business today is more challenging than ever before, technology is also easier in many ways. “Back in the day we had 11,000 SKUs at Cooper. That means we had 11,000 bin cards. “Every business is tough, unless you love it. Do you love what you do, who you do it for and who you do it with?” He said that those who want a glamorous job need to understand that glamour is an illusion. “What’s glamorous about the movie business. It’s an illusion,. It’s the academy awards.” Nothing, he said, is glamorous about spending endless hours on the movie set. What matters, he reiterated, is if you love what you do. “do you love what you do and do you have a bringing desire to get better at what you do every day? Why do you have to be this good? Because business imperatives make it so.’ In the business world, in any industry with an oversupply of players, the number one company with have an ROI of 15%, the number two company will have an ROI of 10% to 12%, number three breaks even, and number four and five will lose money. “And what happens when numbers four and five are safely resting in their graves? Four or five entrepreneurs see what they perceive to be a hole in the market and jump in.” They eventually leave the market, but not before damaging the marketplace for the other players. “The free enterprise system is not self correcting, it is self-buggering up,” he said. To avoid that eventuality, Cooper advises attention to several basic truths. –Mediocrity os no longer an option. “Sometimes tinkering with our business is not enough, you need to reinvent it.” –Stop being a commodity. “What are you famous for? What are you doing that is so extraordinary that you are famous for it.” A jobber in Orillia, Ont., manages a garage for a week so that the owner can take a vacation. “While they are running a shop for a week, they are also writing a complete report on ways that it could be improved.” –It is a myth that it is about goals, targets, aims and objectives. “What we need is clear commitments.” –Leadership is the most important job. “Grandma used to say that we need to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. Is everyone singing from the –Vision statements matter. “What we tend to forget is that there are two kinds of future. The future over which we have no control over and that we cannot affect. That is the future we spend all of our time thinking about. We have not time left over for the future you could proactively create in your business. What future you choose to proactively create?” A vision statement should be a clear and measurable statement of what you are committed to become to be a profitable and responsible leader in three to five years. –Do not have an emotional attachment to an uneconomic business. In an example with a business that could be sold for $4 million because of the land it is on, but lost money every year. The reason for keeping the business operating was to keep busy. Cooper told him to get involved in charity work. “And he said, ‘I never thought about it that way.’ That’s the best thing anyone in my business can hear.” –Loyalty is not gone. We are desperately searching for heroes to be loyal to. to e loyal to. People are too lazy to work on the business to make it worthy. “People are loyal to what’s best for them or what they assume is best for them. What are you doing to earn loyalty? Make a list of all the help your customers need.” –When we’re getting beaten up on price, it’s a sure sign that we’ve failed to create and communicate any other compelling value. –“We have an advertising problem,” is a myth. “Are you communicating the right message?” –“You can’t get good help anymore,” is a myth. “The best people have to work for somebody. It’s just that you have to deserve them.”
In addition, to larger presentations, breakout sessions throughout the forum will provide management information to attendees. The Ontario Grand Forum runs all day, October 20, at the Doubletree by Hilton, near Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ont. For more information, visit www.aiacanada.ca.