2015 has the potential to be a big year for both manufacturing and warehousing and thus a big year for material handling dealers ready and able to bring value to the marketplace.
Last month we discussed how fast “change” is taking place and some thoughts on a plan to get and keep industry experts accessible at a moment’s notice. The goal being to be able to react quickly as business issues both internal and customer related come to light, and thus showing how your company can offer products, services and solutions in a timely manner that add value to the customer relationship.
There is nothing new in the fact that customers are looking to become more efficient, want to reduce costs, increase revenue, all to improve margins and the bottom line. It is also expected that your company will help them do this. What’s new is customers now expect new ideas coming from you on an accelerated schedule, with the schedule itself on an accelerating schedule. Can’t or do not deliver and you will find yourself on the outside looking in when the next reorder
You noticed (I hope) that my opening remarks stated that 2015 could be a great year for dealers able to bring value to the market. Those dealers who have not changed their business plan to provide value added services and ideas on a regular basis may find 2015 to be another flat year.
Ideas and solutions could come in the form to lower equipment ownership and operating costs, ideas to increase residual values of units coming off lease, taking over portions of the customer fleet management process, ideas to find better and cheaper financing terms, tax planning ideas, training and safety programs and better communication to support company billing. Dealers may even want to consider topics their customers could use with their customers. There is no end to the list of solutions and ideas available from dealers and OEM’s if they just spend the time to cull them out of their employees to pass on to customers.
Making it easier to do business with your company should be at the top of your solution list. From paperless transactions to automated confirmation of transactions to simplified ways to pay for invoices all go a long way to making doing business with you easier. And guess what, these processes benefit both sides of the transaction, thus making you more efficient in the process.
Telematics also bring value added to the table. Being able to track the operating hours of both owned and rental units, idle time, PM schedules and “required repair” notices to avoid downtime help customers properly calculate the cost of equipment usage and ways to reduce that cost.
The basic telematic data points are basic equipment info (make, model, ID), locations, cumulative operating hours, fuel use and distance traveled. This list is being expanded to include 19 more data points to include such data as fault codes, idle time, load factors, max speed and load counts to name a few. My recent trip to the AEMP Symposium on telematics really impressed me when I listened to how OEM’s, dealers and end users are using telematics to manage fleet costs and related operating costs they incur. What was really interesting was the requirement of some end users that dealers provide this information on the equipment they rent and own. Can your customers be far behind?
In the end OEM’s are using telematics to find ways to better engineer their product to provide faster and cheaper solutions. Dealers are using telematics to manage both their rental fleet and customer fleets. Customers are using telematics to decide which equipment to buy and when to buy it, all based on the operating statistics they receive from the data points.
Getting back to dealers being able and ready to provide solutions to customers, I have to tell you about my recent experience sitting in on a Bob Currie 20 Group meeting. 18 people present, 10 dealers represented, in operation for nine years. The nine years speaks for itself.
The program, discussions, information and ideas exchanged was far above average. I have sat in and participated in such groups and on a scale of 1-10, this was a 12. The discussions were open and frank, the information provided very informative and practical, and the idea exchange very exciting to listen to as the 10 dealers professionally explained their idea and what it did for them in terms of customer satisfaction, cost reduction and revenue enhancement. There was not one weak presentation. Every dealer in the group had to come away with an idea to implement immediately in their operation. What a way to receive value added ideas to make available to customers and solidify the relationship.
A BIG 2015…..it all depends on what you bring to the table.
Garry Bartecki is a CPA MBA with GB Financial Services LLC. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to contact Garry.