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Keep your knowledgeable friends closer
Garry Bartecki
Garry Bartecki

Can these times be more confusing? I think not. The economy is uncertain, the market is uncertain, interest rates are uncertain (but still acceptable), we may have an Ebloa issue, the dollar is at risk, oil prices are falling, Europe is tanking and China may be close behind.

And there you sit, trying to figure out how to plan for this business you own, this department you manage or the equipment you have to sell. Not only do you have to plan for your business but your customer’s as well. What are they thinking? What needs do they have that they expect you to meet? What changes coming down the road will you need to deal with in 2015?

Need an aspirin, take two.

And to add to your anxiety, at the recent ITA meeting there was a discussion that “national accounts” are growing as the preferred method to do business, and those national accounts only like doing business with the bigger dealers. What that means for a “typical” MHEDA dealer I am not sure.

If you do not keep up with what is going on with the king of national accounts I suggest you get the latest United Rentals Investor (URI) presentation for the 3rd qtr 2014. Would it surprise you that 51% of their business is industrial? Well, it is, with one of their major goals to increase their national account business. And in case you are wondering, the other public rental companies are doing the same.

Maybe it should be three.

So what is your decision? Is it risk-on or risk-off? And who do you go to for guidance dealing with this crazy environment we find ourselves in?

Good question, and I hope you have an answer and a list of peers and experts that you can rely on who know your industry and have ideas or solutions to share should you find yourself with an issue you are now quite comfortable dealing with on your own. Your group of helpers should be easily accessible on your phone, email, contact list, by fax and mail. It should include professionals, peers, bankers, customers, OEM’s, other vendors, system experts, industry organizations and just good old fashion successful business contacts who know what they are doing.

I think we can all agree that changes are coming about on a faster and faster pace. Where in the past you had time to ponder decisions, today that is really not an option in most cases. Your markets and customer needs can changes significantly in a year’s time.

Do you really need to have these relationships in place? The answer is maybe yes and maybe no. If you find you are the leader of the peer group and are getting calls for advice on a consistent basis, you may not need as much coaching as those who are behind the curve. On the other hand if you sit down with your management team and come to realize things have not changed how you do business in the last five to seven years, you probably need to act as soon as possible or face being left behind, meaning the value of your company is at risk.

Let me provide an example of how one person deals with this issue. Jim Cramer, the stock market guru indicated that he has 20 people whose thoughts he likes to keep up with and does so using Twitter to review what they have to say on a daily basis. You could do something similar as I am positive it would help with the decision making.  

It is time to get that blank sheet of paper out (I know nobody uses paper anymore) and start generating the list of folks or companies that can provide insight and potential solutions to the business problems you are dealing with.

Since my goal in life is to help dealers realize the value of their efforts, I often find myself needing help that I can pass along to a dealer. So I have put together a list of people who can help me that can just about handle just about any issue a dealer of lift trucks, construction equipment and rental companies can come up. All I can say is, it works, saves me lots of time and is very cost effective. Not having to re-invent the wheel or spend hours researching a topic really helps get a lot of knowledge back to a dealer in time to react in a timely manner. 

So, put me on your list to get started and go from there.

Garry Bartecki is a CPA MBA with GB Financial Services LLC. E-mail editorial@mhwmag.com to contact Garry.

 
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