Exiting My Business – Why Should I Plan?

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I talk to many business owners and I always ask the question, “How and when do you plan to exit this business?” It never ceases to amaze me how many people tell me, “I am never going to leave my business; this is my life.” Let me put that myth to rest immediately. Every business owner WILL leave their business. They may leave it vertically or they may leave it horizontally, but they will leave it. That being said, it is obvious that exit planning is very critical to business owners, but especially small business owners. Why? Let’s look at some statistics from the Small Business Administration. There are approximately 23 million businesses in theUS. Of these businesses, 99.7% have fewer than 500 employees. In other words, small business! Over 65% of these businesses are family owned or closely held businesses. Over 50% of small businesses are owned by individuals over 50 years of age. What does this say? There will be more businesses hitting the market for sale in the next … [Read more...]

When it’s Time to Hang it Up

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What does Mick Jagger, Rickey Henderson, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre and Chris Chelios have in common?  Give up? - YES!  All were (are) legends in their respective professions and - YES - neither appeared to have a well thought out  exit strategy.   One could even argue, all stayed in the "game" a bit too long. What is a Exit Strategy? Wikipedia has a pretty good definition:  "An exit strategy is a means of leaving one's current situation, either after a predetermined objective has been achieved, or as a strategy to mitigate failure.[1][2][3] An organisation or individual without an exit strategy may be in a quagmire. At worst, an exit strategy will save face; at best, an exit strategy will peg a withdrawal to the achievement of an objective worth more than the cost of continued involvement." Why you should have an Exit Strategy? As much as you would not like to admit it, you can't keep doing what you are doing forever.  No one in the history of man has been able to pull that off … [Read more...]

Automotive Seminars & Update to RTS coming soon!

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Hi All ! Its been a busy few months!  I just wanted to update you, and let you know what I have been up to and what you can expect from RTS in the near future. Last October, I left TCi/Michelin to help out a Co-op up in Portland called NW Tire Factory.  Tire Factory is a group of  fantastic Independent Tire Business  owners located mostly in the Pacific Northwest.  Tire Factory is owned and operated by tire and service dealers just like you.  I made short work of building a sales team, developing a recruiting and value add program for their membership and even made a few friends along the way (Hi Steve, Andrew and Rob!). Prior to my detour in Portland,  I was working on a program called "The Complete Winning Strategy".  CWS is a comprehensive retail operations workshop and coaching platform inspired by my 18 years of  leading and assisting retail tire and service  teams.    The program assists store leadership in defining roles, setting goals as well as providing ownership … [Read more...]

Announcing Tire Dealer Support Services

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Its been a couple of years in the making, but TireDealerSupport.com has officially launched.  Tire Dealer Support is billed as "Home Office Support" for the Independent Tire and Service Dealer. Why TDS? Over the past six years, I had the opportunity  to work with hundreds of Independent Tire and Service Dealers.  I learned a lot!  Especially how hard an Independent Tire Dealer  has to work to compete and win in today's extremely competitive tire and service industry. Having worked most of my career for a national retailer, I know first hand what a huge advantage  it is to be able to focus all of your attention on taking care of customers and running  your daily operations. I think Home office support is a pretty big deal! Tire Dealer Support was founded to level the playing field. To help dealers focus on generating revenue and growing rather then wasting time shopping for support services and meeting with vendors. Ultimately - Retail Tire Support will  provide the … [Read more...]

People

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People - It really is all about People. Yes we fix cars and trucks - install tires and wheels. But in the end,  its about People solving Peoples problems working with People. A few question to ask yoursleves as we prepare to start another day as automotive tire and service professionals. Do my people know what is expected every day? Do they understand their role? Do my people have goals? Do my people have the tools (training) to meet expectations? Do I keep score every day? Track important stuff like (Customers Serviced, Sales, Service Sales, Payroll, COGS .. etc) Do I provide regular (daily) feedback to my people? These are basic questions that mean everything to the success of your business, but easily overlooked. Need Help? Here are a few articles to get you going in the right direction. Five Qualities of Remarkable Bosses Keeping Score in Retail Tire & Service Retail Tire and Service Tracking Tools As always - Im here to  help!  Contact me … [Read more...]

12 Factors of Successful Managers

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If you were to ask any owner or key employee of any business what their average revenue per employee is, chances are they would scratch their head and give the same look that we get when asking our teenagers whether they've cleaned their room. Now, this doesn't mean that they're not effective at what they do, it just reinforces our negligence when it comes to what I call "Workforce Optimization." What do we expect of employees, do we communicate those expectations effectively to them, do they know why the company has those expectations of them and do they have the tools to meet or exceed those expectations? Whether front line, back office, white, grey or blue collar, employees must know how their efforts contribute to the overall success of a business. Although this tends to be one of the most significant factors impacting employee performance, let's take a look at 12 indicators that resulted from Gallup interviews across the world, representing various industry and organization … [Read more...]

Why its a good Idea to Offer an Inspection to Every Customer

I live in Arizona where there is no requirement to have an annual  safety inspection performed on passenger and light truck vehicles.  According to Info.com only 26 States now require regular inspections of automobiles "to rid the highways of dangerous vehicles with bald tires, wobbly suspensions, smoke-filled exhausts, and defective brakes and lights."  You can find that list of States here. If I owned a Tire and Service business in a State that doesn't require regular safety inspections, I'm not sure that I would need another reason to recommend a full mechanical inspection on every one of my customers vehicles at least once a year.  I would charge for that inspection as well. If you do need another reason to offer (sell) inspections to every customer, here is another one!  It has to do with identifying customers that are interested in having a safety inspection performed on their vehicle.  Believe it or not, there are lots of customers that are interested in having a safety … [Read more...]

The Post-it Note Philosophy for Improving Customer Satisfaction

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I read an interesting article over at Smashing Magazine entitled: Taking a Customer from Like to Love: the UX of Long-Term relationships.  Give it a read when you get a chance!  What struck me most about this article; was the mention of a survey, conducted by the Rockerfeller Corporation that answered the question, why customers leave one company for a competitor.  The top answer:  Customer's believe that you don't care about them.  WOW! 68% of the  customers that leave you for a competitor feel that you don't care about them?   Why there may be many reasons for a customer to feel that they don't matter, here is way to improve YOUR PEOPLES perception of  YOUR CUSTOMERS.  Yes especially the $9.99 oil change customer ;-).  Its called the "Post-it Note Philosophy" What is the Post it Note Philosophy you ask? Work with your people to imagine that every customer that walks into your store has a imaginary pack of Post-it Notes on their forehead.  The first couple of notes may have $20 … [Read more...]

Retail Trends – Every Time Discount for Using Preferred Customer Card

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Here is a picture I snapped yesterday at my local Lowes Home Improvement Store.  It Seems that Lowes is also promoting their in store credit card as a "Preferred Customer Card" by offering a 5% discount off everyday prices for Lowes Credit Card Holders - "everyday". I don't know about you, but I just replaced my Home Depot Credit Card with my new Lowes "Preferred Discount Card". Are you using a Preferred Customer Card to attract and retain your customers?       … [Read more...]

Car Dealers Get More Aggressive – They Want your Customers!

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I took this picture while traveling through Duluth, MN a few weeks ago.  This Car Dealer leaves little doubt, as to what he is trying to communicate to his prospective customers. "I want YOUR oil change & tire business."  More and More car dealers, as well as tire & service shops are willing to give away oil changes and sacrifice tire margin for customer growth and increased service sales.  Let me ask you ... what's your strategy to compete against this car dealer? … [Read more...]