A Critical First Step: Dealer’s Need to Start With the ‘How’

So, I know I said I was going to focus this blog on how dealers and manufacturers could partner together but I think we first need to lay the groundwork of the ‘HOW’ – Honest, Open, Willing as it pertains to the dealer segment.

Let’s start with HONEST and begin by taking a hard look at ourselves and our businesses.

Let me explain what I mean by asking some questions.

  • When was your company born/started?
    • 5, 10, 20, 30 years ago? Did you set up your company the way you saw others model theirs? Or maybe you bought an existing business that      already had “processes” in place.  This could mean that your company is dated and has held on to a lot of business ideas that were traditional in the industry at that time.
  • Here is the next question, which should hopefully get your juices flowing, if you were starting your business today, what would it look like?
    • Would you be using the technology you use now to run your business?
    • Would your showroom model be the same? (size, location, layout, consumer interaction, cost)
    • Would you hire everyone that you have now?
    • Would you start off with the same product line-up?
    • Have the same operating expenses?
    • The same training programs?

So, will it be dramatically different than your current business model? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself.  Whatever it looks like, you should be moving towards it fast! Remember, that you will be competing with companies that are starting up today, tomorrow, next month, next year and so on. They will start with a clean slate and won’t be held to the same traditional ways of doing business. Trust me when I tell you that we are just seeing the beginning of a number of disruptions that are going to take place in our industry.

Okay, here comes the big question: say you are 40 years old and looking to start a new career.  You just inherited 400K and you have the knowledge that you currently possess about the kitchen and bath industry. Would you:

  1. Start up your own K & B dealership?
  2. Spend $300,000 on a local K & B business that has 2 million in revenues and a 5% return on sales (profit $100K annually)?
  3. Start up a business but in a different industry?
  4. Invest the money and just go work for somebody else?

How you answer that should give you some insight into how you are feeling these days about the future of your business.

The next part of this is to focus on how OPEN you are to new ideas. Being a student right now is one of the most critical things you can do to help your company or career.  Technology, marketing, on-line sales, products, employees and consumers are changing much faster. That means that we need to try and keep up with these changes the best we can.

If we used to invest two hours a week in learning, we need to double that to four. I know, I know, we don’t have the time. I have suggested that people sign up for Blinkest.com for months now and every chance I get to follow up with them, they say they haven’t taken the time to do it. When clients say this I just smile and tell them they had plenty of time, they just didn’t make it a priority. The urgency seems to always run their business life and not the important. I sometimes add that if they don’t attend to the important soon, they may find themselves with an abundance of time on their hands.

I will say this again and again…it is critical that you become a student starving for learning. Read articles, listen to audio books, watch Ted talks, attend webinars and seminars and anything else that will give you a competitive advantage.

Take for example, the upcoming Wren Kitchens seminar. When you hear about a company who grew from nothing to $600M in sales and 80 stores in 10 years, you might want to consider attending to see what it’s all about. Who knows? You may find a couple of great takeaways or “Aha!” moments that could change your business in the future. Make no mistake, they are coming to the U.S next Spring and could be opening a store near you. Why not learn from their playbook before then so you can position yourself to be a worthy competitor. Bottom line, that’s the reason we are holding this seminar so that you can learn new ways about doing business (we even dropped the price to make it more affordable).

Now the WILLING…tell me one thing you are willing to start in the next 24 hours. It doesn’t have to be major, but just enough to prove to yourself that you are willing to be engaged in the future of the kitchen and bath industry.

As always, I would love to hear your comments. At least let me know if you would’ve picked A, B, C or D.

Next week we will focus on what dealers must start doing now to combat the drop in ticket sales and pressure on the margins. After that, the HOW with manufactures.

– Thad

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