If you’ve ever studied business management or have gone to any type of business or motivational training, you’ve most likely heard some of these tired, old clichés. Think outside the box. Give it 110 percent! Or one that’s really worn out, Take your business to the next level.
The phrase, think outside the box has been with us for about 35 years. Its origin came from the solution to the “9-Dot Puzzle.” It’s been used by many management trainers without much in the way of definition, but it sounds good. Okay, we’ve all gone through that “paradigm shift” and have been thinking outside the box for over 30 years. We’ve given it 110 percent and have taken our business to the next level. And we’re all the better for it, right?
While our business environment has changed and the challenges have gotten more complicated, there are still opportunities out there if you’re willing to look for them. Let’s look at a couple of simple things, I mean really simple, that you can do to go beyond the next level.
Based on the What’s Working Study, we know that every town has at least one transmission shop that dominates the market. They have a mix of repeat and new customers – many of them are referrals. They don’t worry about low-ballers and are getting paid well for their expertise. They may or may not do some types of general repair. However, if they do, it’s not out of desperation or because their business is falling off; it’s by choice. Your town has one of these. If it’s not you, then find out who it is.
Start by doing an internet search of transmission shops within a radius appropriate for your area’s population density. Write them down and then go visit them. Find out what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and what they, or in this case, you can do better. Then commit to providing better service and a better product (not cheaper) than any other business in that radius. Then expand on it.
Next, change your perspective of your business. The image you currently have has most likely been corrupted by a small percentage of complainers’ negativity. As the shop owner, you hear the complaints from your customers. They’re generally a tiny percentage of your customers. Still, this small group can shape your opinion and, worse, cause you to create policies and procedures in reaction rather than thoughtful response. The defensive reaction can be destructive to your relationship with good customers.
Think about the policies and procedures you have in place now that limit your ability to provide best-in-class customer service to your good customers. Were they implemented because you’ve had a bad experience with one or two people? The antidote to this is to reach out to your customers to find out what they think about you.
Try this. Pick out 5 or 10 customers you’ve done business with over the past month and call them. Ask them how your service was. Ask them what you could do to improve your service. Ask them if there was anything specific that they liked and found of value. Don’t spend too much of their time, and make sure you thank them for sharing their thoughts with you. You’ll be amazed at how much people love to share their thoughts and how positive many of them will be. This has the power of changing your whole perspective about your business. The few people who complain will have less effect on you because of the positive feedback from so many customers. You might even throw away those damaging policies you’ve created over the years as a defense mechanism.
Forget the next level; go beyond it. Find out everything you can about your business from people who like your service. They’ll also give you constructive ideas on ways to improve it. Commit to providing the best service and product possible, based on customer feedback from the people you’ve called, not the complainers. Establish a perimeter, an area to dominate, even if it’s only your block. Then gradually expand it. Remember, every city has a shop that dominates. Go Beyond the Next Level and be that shop.