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We’re Doing it Wrong – the World is Flat

The industry is nearing a crossroads. We’re not quite there yet, but it’s coming soon.

It’s the perfect storm: new technologies in transmissions, new buying motives and habits among vehicle owners, new media and marketing options, new competitive forces from general-repair shops and consumer-focused new-car dealers, new this, new that.

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We’re Doing it Wrong – the World is Flat

Reman U

Author: Noah Rickun
Subject Matter: Management
Issue: Growing your business

Reman U

  • Author: Noah Rickun
  • Subject Matter: Management
  • Issue: Growing your business

I’m just returning home from 48 hours of uninterrupted thinking about and discussing the transmission industry. I attended a dozen presentations by the industry’s most-famous and reputable brands (Transtar, ALLDATA, AutoZone, Lubegard, CustomerLink and Epicor, to name a few). I ate three meals each day with shop owners, their spouses and other vendors. We all ate, drank and slept with transmissions on our minds and on our tongues.

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Here’s what I learned:

The industry is nearing a crossroads. We’re not quite there yet, but it’s coming soon.

It’s the perfect storm: new technologies in transmissions, new buying motives and habits among vehicle owners, new media and marketing options, new competitive forces from general-repair shops and consumer-focused new-car dealers, new this, new that.

And it’s all happening right now.

The most-interesting aspect of the conference was the conversations (er, arguments) that occurred in the hallways. I don’t think that I ever heard the words “I agree” uttered once.

Nobody seems to have the perfect answer.

At some point on Saturday I recalled a quote from Daniel J. Boorstin, who wrote that “[t]he greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.”

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Not that long ago everyone knew that the world was flat.

Boy, was everyone wrong. What is now obvious to us was once waiting to be discovered.

I think, perhaps, that the transmission industry is “flat.” Not in the economical sense, but in the metaphorical sense.

The obvious is yet to be discovered.

We’ve been doing it the same way for decades. Transmission shops still operate under antiquated business models with antiquated go-to-market strategies that conflict with the opposing consumer trends.

Also, it seems to me that most transmission-shop owners are more focused on building transmissions than on building their businesses. But some are considering alternatives.

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Think about your world for a minute.

Ask yourself what you really know. What do you really know for sure?

What business practices do you follow because you truly know that it’s the best way to do it?

And what things do you do just because you’ve always done them that way?

  • Maybe it’s time to start exploring.
  • Maybe it’s time to sail off to new lands.
  • Maybe it’s time to try something new.

Think about:

  • Your sales model – Are you using flat pricing or base price plus hard parts? Which do your customers prefer?
  • Your phone procedures – Do you give prices over the phone or do you lure your customers in with other methods? Which works best in your market?
  • Your service model – Do you serve your customers in memorable and unexpected ways?
  • Your customer model – Do you always do your best for your customers all the time?
  • Your management model – Do you create a positive, engaging environment in which your staff can thrive?
  • Your marketing model – Do you take advantage of both traditional and non-traditional media? Have you explored your options with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, LivingSocial and others?
  • Your education model – Do you provide your staff with the requisite educational opportunities to succeed? Do you attend the seminars or webinars as well?

Your turn: Pick one of the areas mentioned above.

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However you’re currently doing it, try doing it some other way for a while. See for yourself whether the new way is better or if the old way worked. Don’t assume it won’t work. Then move on to the next area of your business. Take a low-cost, educated risk, and try it. If it works to grow your business, keep doing it. If you’ve given it enough time and it doesn’t work, go back to the old way of doing business, knowing you gave it your best shot.

Noah Rickun, aka Captain Reman, is the vice president of sales & distribution at ETE Reman. An aftermarket veteran, Captain Reman is known for sharing his sales, business and customer-service knowledge weekly through the e-newsletter Reman U.

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