There is always room for improvement in any situation. Below are three concepts that, when implemented or taken advantage of, offer great opportunities for enhancing your business.
In this day and age it might be difficult to imagine, but there are some who still are not reaping the benefits of an e-mail address. Having one offers a lot of advantages for you and your business. Not only is e-mail faster, easier and more convenient, it's also cheaper and more efficient than regular mail or telephone in communicating the same information.
Additional features and advantages can include:
- E-mail, unlike postal or "snail mail", can be delivered at any time.
- Incoming mail can be immediately printed, saved to a disk, replied to, forwarded or deleted.
- Being able to reach others by e-mail means that you can communicate with them at your mutual convenience.
- Outgoing messages can be carefully composed, allowing you time to think out your response or research a question.
- An e-mail message can be delivered at any time, without long distance charges.
- Your message stays on the recipient’s computer until he/she retrieves it.
- Messages can be sent out to dozens or even hundreds of people at once.
- E-mail is free. There are many options for setting up an e-mail address. Some of the most popular options are Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and MSN. Easy set up instructions are available on any of these sites.
- E-mail fits your schedule, and waits for you. The ability to check your e-mail 24 hours a day, 7 days a week allows you to better allocate your time. Instead of stopping to take a phone call, place an order or find a fax machine, you can respond as time allows.
- E-mail helps improve customer service. Customers can e-mail questions or comments whenever they come to mind, and you can wait to answer until you have the information they need.
- Avoids telephone tag.
- Allows for sharing files in a matter of seconds.
- A written e-mail allows for editing your response before sending it.
- E-mail users can also sign up to receive Mobile Dealer News, a monthly e-newsletter produced by the staff of Professional Distributor. Exclusively for mobile tool distributors, each issue offers insight on the industry and new information that can help you better service customers, manage your inventory and grow your business.
To sign up, go to www.pten.com and enter your e-mail address in the box that offers free newsletters.
Enhance Your Offerings
Fort Myers, FL-based Automotive Video, Inc. (AVI) is looking to work more closely with mobile tool dealers in bringing the company’s products and services to market. AVI specializes in shop management, technical and product-specific training for automotive repair. While the company holds seminars and workshops all around the country, AVI’s specialty is providing this information on VHS and DVD-formatted videos.
"We feel that we have two really unique offerings for the mobile tool dealer. The first of which are our video products, because of how they work in concert with the diagnostic tools and equipment mobile distributors sell," states company CEO Paul Louwers.
"We understand that most in this group either don’t have the time to explain these products in detail, or the technical background to unlock a tool’s full capabilities. That’s were we come in," he states.
Product-specific training materials include videos associated with Snap-on’s MODIS™ and SOLUS™, as well as the lab scope module and driveability tools for the Genisys™.
"Additionally," continues Louwers, "we want to work with mobile tool dealers in setting up, promoting and holding training events for their customers. This could mean working with the mobile distributor to recruit technicians for one of our seminars, or effectively playing the role of a third-party provider in training their customers."
AVI states that their products and classes are based on feedback they receive from the repair community. This is evidenced by new programs being developed for hybrid vehicles, Mode 6 diagnostics and general shop management.
"After all, the better a shop is operating, the more profitable it will be. So the mobile dealer not only benefits from selling our video or training session, but also from a more stable customer base that should have greater dollar amounts to spend in staying up-to-date with tools and equipment," adds Louwers.
This year marks AVI’s 10th anniversary, as well as the launch of a more user-friendly website (www.auto-video.com) that the company plans to upgrade throughout the year with additional downloadable video samples. For more information, call (800) 718-7246 x 246, and ask for either Michael Glorieux or Paul Louwers.
Improving Time Management
You've heard it before. We're all moving too fast and taking on too much responsibility, which results in not having enough hours in the day to get things done.
To that end, PD's associate editor, Kristine Giammattei, has assembled a number of possible options in helping you make the most of the time each day offers.
Spend Time Planning And Organizing
Using time to think and plan is time well-spent. In fact, if you fail to take time for planning, you are, some have said, planning to fail.
Organize things in a way that makes sense to you. If you need color and pictures, use a lot on your calendar or planning book. Some people need to have papers filed away; others get their creative energy from their piles. So forget the "shoulds" and organize your way.
Goals give your business, and the way you spend your time, direction. First you’ve got to decide what you want. Set goals which are specific, measurable, realistic and achievable. Your optimum goals are those which cause you to stretch, but not break.
Use the 80-20 Rule (originally stated by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto). It states that 80 percent of the reward comes from 20 percent of the effort. The trick to prioritizing is to isolate and identify that valuable 20 percent of your customer base, inventory, etc. Once identified, prioritize your time to concentrate on those items with the greatest reward.
Use A To Do List
Some people thrive using a daily "To Do", list which they construct either as the last thing the previous day or first thing in the morning. Such people may combine a "To Do" list with a calendar or schedule. Others prefer a running "To Do" list which is continuously being updated. Or, you may prefer a combination of the two.
Consider Your Prime Time
That’s the time of day when you are at your best. Are you a morning person? A night owl? A late afternoon whiz? Know when your best time is and plan to use that time of day for your priorities, whether it be more challenging collections, larger customers, or your least favorite aspect of the job.
Do The Right Thing Right
Noted management expert Peter Drucker says, "Doing the right thing is more important than doing things right." Doing the right thing is effectiveness; doing things right is efficiency. Focus first on effectiveness (identifying what is the right thing to do), then concentrate on efficiency (doing it right).
Eliminate The Urgent
Urgent tasks have short-term consequences while important tasks are those with long-term, goal-related implications. Work towards reducing the urgent things you must do so you’ll have time for your important priorities.
Eliminate from your life trivial tasks or those which do not have long-term consequences for you.
Learn To Say "No"
Such a small word — and so hard to say. Focusing on your goals may help. Blocking time for important, but often un-scheduled, priorities such as family and friends can also help.
But first you must be convinced that you and your priorities are important. That seems to be the hardest part in learning to say "no." Once convinced of their importance, saying "no" to the unimportant thinks in life gets easier.
Even for small successes, celebrate achievement of goals. Promise yourself a reward for completing each task, finishing the total job, or reaching the ultimate goal. Then keep your promise to yourself and indulge in your reward. Doing so will help you maintain the necessary balance in life between work and play.
The Power Of The Pen
A pen has more power than the keenest mind. Get into the habit of writing things to do down using one tool (a Day-Timer, pad of paper, Palm Pilot, etc.)
Your mind is best used for the big picture rather than all the details. The details are important, but manage them with the pen. Writing things down helps you to more easily remember all that you need to accomplish.
Concentrate On Your Strengths
It is also important to know what your talents and weaknesses are. A good way of doing this is to carry out a SWOT analysis.
This provides a formal approach to evaluating your Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as the Opportunities and Threats that you face. It makes a lot of sense to find an approach that suits your strengths, and nullifies any weaknesses.
Avoid Time Traps
These are some "time traps," that you should guard against:
- Spending a disproportionately high amount of time in shops with the most congenial people, as opposed to prospecting for new business or working with more challenging customers.
- Not bothering to make up a schedule for each day.
- Overscheduling, or scheduling each day so tightly that it is impossible to stay on track. The schedule quickly becomes meaningless, and ends up having a negative impact on customer service, and ultimately, your business.
Time Management Tools are about making better use of your personal and business time management skills in order to get more out of the day. The more you can get done, the more you will achieve, and the more success you will enjoy.