I have a pet peeve that I feel compelled to share, particularly after having had the opportunity recently to attend two Automotive Service Association (ASA) affiliate meetings in Louisiana and Georgia.
Spending time with the outstanding shop members of our organization reminded me how much it ticks me off when otherwise bright people in our industry diminish the opinions of equally smart shop owners by characterizing them as “not the norm.”
This generally occurs at industry conferences when shop owners are invited to share their perspective on the independent service and repair segment of our industry, ostensibly to provide valuable insight to those who make their living serving the needs of these shop owners. All too often, what I hear is the standard disclaimer that these folks are not representative of “my customers.” Meaning, I suppose, that there are so few smart operators that listening to their opinions is a waste of time.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you expect to be successful in the long term, you had better be measuring yourself against the expectations of your best customers. If you want to target market the mediocre customers, don't plan on being around long.
If you are looking for a key indicator in determining who might be a great customer, you might consider this: They probably belong to and participate fully in a trade association such as the ASA.
Why? Because they are not content with being an average performer.
They understand that membership in the ASA will expose them to best practices and partners that will help them improve their business and ultimately become someone's best customer. You know—the kind who pays the bills on time, appreciates service and ultimately is more profitable for your company.
Now, if you are trying to grow your business and you want to do it without sacrificing profit, target the best customers and earn their business. When you do, you will help change the perception that these great shops are somehow “not the norm.”
Ron Pyle is president of Bedford, Texas-based Automotive Service Association (ASA). This piece originally appeared on the www.asa.org Web site in the “President's Blog.”