By Kim Rominger, Executive Vice President, United Equipment Dealers Association
I would be surprised if you have not heard the old saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” It may be tired but it is so true. Whether in your business life or home life, planning is critical to get to the spot you wish to be. The other part of planning is that it must be constant. As you attain or reach the milestones of your plan, tweaks or adjustments must be made to continue on your path of success. Nothing is static and targets we are seeking with our plans are constantly moving.
As dealers, I know your manufacturers are constantly asking for what your “business plan” is for the next year, 5 years or more. They want to know how you will improve in the areas you are weakest and how you will capitalize on the areas you are strongest. Will you embrace new technology, new markets or expand your product offerings? Will you improve facilities, take on additional locations or territory or remain static? Will you bring on additional employees, specialists or promote key staff to positions of greater authority?
All of this is quite expected. You are a key cog in the manufacturer’s distribution model and are critical to the success of the sale of the products produced by said manufacturer. You are the one that services the customers, takes care of warranty, fixes equipment in the field and provides key product support for the equipment supplied by the manufacturer. After all, it is a partnership . . . right?
If that is the case (and I am not disputing the point by saying this) it is more than appropriate that you request what the manufacturer’s plans are for their business relative to your business. As a partner, it is critical in your overall planning that you know what the volume bonus plans are going to be for the next 2, 5 or however many years you are planning for. What facility demands, technology demands or training demands are going to need to be met during this planning term? Will there be changes in warranty procedures or policies that affect your dealership or employees? What new product training will be expected to be provided and paid for?
Sometimes we need to ask the questions we may not like the answers to. Is your dealership in the long-term plans of the manufacturer? What does your manufacturer see for the territory you now serve in the next 2, 5 or how every many years you are planning for? What I am saying is, if you are the only one sharing the plans you have and not taking into consideration what your manufacturer is planning, you are not factoring in all of the information necessary for your success. I would also say, if your manufacturer is not willing to share their plan for the term they are asking you to plan for, there is likely an issue. If they can’t tell you their information critical for your plan, questions should be asked. After all, it is a partnership . . . right?
Reprinted with permission from United Equipment Dealers Association, the new entity comprising the Ohio-Michigan Equipment Dealers Association (OMEDA) and Mid-America Equipment Retailers Association (MAERA). Appeared in the May 2017 United Voice Newsletter’s “Executive Corner.”