From The CEO - July - 2019

See it As it Is!

I recently gave a management presentation in Vancouver, Canada. I’ve presented a few of these so far this year and it’s something I really enjoy; mostly because I get to see the people that make this industry work. I covered the results from ATRA’s 2018 customer survey as well as the industry survey from shop owners across the US and Canada. We do surveys of this type from time to time to get an idea of what consumers think and what shop owners are doing to be successful – or not.

It started out like any other seminar except, for one thing, there were three “twenty-somethings” in the front row. That in itself was interesting but on top of that, they were engaged and alert. They asked questions and after the program, they gave me their contact information so I could send them additional material. Here was an example of people relatively new to the industry and they were as excited as so many of us used to be back in the 80s.

It supports something we discovered from our industry survey… younger people have an easier time adapting to our changing industry. It’s not that they’re so good at adapting, but rather, it’s that they haven’t had to adapt. They’re not comparing today’s industry with what it was like 40 years ago. They simply see it as it is!

As I was going through the program I had a side thought of what a terrific opportunity I had been given… right there. I was able to help shape the ideas of people who would lead this industry long after me and my friends are gone. How exciting is that?

You see, there are opportunities all around us. but unless we recognize them and are open to receiving them, they just pass us by. It’s sort of like watching a football game with your favorite team. You’re having a great time and don’t even realize that your wife has been calling your name. Not once, not twice but three times! You’re oblivious to everything around you.

As I thought about these three guys it occurred to me that I’ve missed similar opportunities; it just hadn’t occurred to me at the time. Sure, I’d chit chat with anyone at a seminar, and I can be pretty talkative, but there’s a difference when it’s purpose-driven.

Whether you’re new to this industry or you’ve been around so long that you think you’ve heard it all, let me share a few high points from the program.

  1. The most successful shops create evangelists out of their customers.
  2. I was surprised to learn that several of the most highly-successful shops do no traditional advertising at all… it was all word-of-mouth. This really shouldn’t be a surprise once you consider that most people ask their friends and family for referrals when they have a transmission problem.
  3. While many don’t see millennials as their customers, they will be one day, perhaps years down the road.
  4. One last thing, people don’t use social media to find transmission shops, they use it to ask for referrals from their family and friends.

If you’ve been in this industry for a while, your experience may be an obstacle to seeing a bright future. Instead, pass on your wisdom and knowledge to the next group of forward-looking, future shop owners… perhaps at the next seminar or when you go to Powertrain Expo this October. See you there.