You Can’t Get There From Here

The first time I heard the statement was near Newport, Arkansas and I had stopped to ask directions from a local farmer. Three times he started telling me how to get to my destination, then he stopped, and, just like in the old joke, he said, “You know son, you can’t get there from here. You’ll have to go back into town to get there.”

It occurred to me that the same principle applies when it comes to converting your operation from the old “scarcity” mentality to a success mindset. Scarcity thinking says, “There is not enough to go around so you have to take whatever you can get.” Success thinking says, “There’s enough for everyone and whatever you go after, you’ll eventually get it.”

Tradition and experience teach us to use only what we consider to be “reality” when we do our planning or problem-solving. We say, “It’s always been like that” or “That may be true for you but it’s different here.” In other words, we say that what we have known is clearly (to us) the only true reality.

But the truth is; there is MUCH more going on around us than we ever see or hear about. For example, we know from research that there is an abundance of customers out there who are willing to hire an expert for their needs and who have the money to pay us. Others see them all the time but many of us are so accustomed to thinking small that we never even go after these desirable customers.

For example: Why do people with the money to pay for their repairs go first to the auto dealerships? That’s been studied for years now and it’s clear that they go there because:

·       They think the dealer is more qualified to help them

·       They know it will cost more but they trust them to do it right and to guarantee their work

·       They fear that going to an independent shop will mean compromising     quality or reliability of the repairs

·       They don’t think the independent shop will have the right technology or training for their specific car

·       And, in many cases, the dealership looks more professional.

So if you’re in auto repair how do you compete with that?

Well, first; you become every bit as professional and reliable as your competition…more so, if possible. That means that your people need to be certified or highly trained professionals, and your shop needs to be clean, well organized and impressive looking, inside and out.

What about price? Should you compete on price and even advertise that fact? Yes, you probably should, BUT…not by positioning yourself as the “lowest bidder”. Instead, you should be letting people know that your professionals are specialists. You don’t have a full dealership to support and so ALL your time, attention and money goes into Repair…only. You are the best at one vital thing that your team does and that is why you can do as well or better than a dealer at a lower price.

How about you? What market segments are you appealing to today: price shoppers or value shoppers? Those buying primarily on Price will be ‘high-maintenance’ buyers. Those seeking the best Value will be your best customers.

Ask yourself, “Do I spend my time helping customers figure out how to pay for our service, or do I spend my time actually providing our service?” “Am I constantly having to urge customers to take action now?” If this is your usual experience then maybe you are going after the wrong customers!

A lot of your colleagues think like little shop owners, not like Professionals. They assume that they must deal with customers who are left over after the major providers have skimmed the best ones. But that is just not the case. There are plenty of great customers out there who need your product or service and can pay for it. It’s a proven fact. They are there…but they haven’t been coming to you. Why?

Albert Einstein said, “A problem cannot be solved with the same kind of thinking that created it.” In other words, we cannot follow the same road of lower income customers and expect to arrive at a place where we gain more upscale customers. People who are on top of their finances don’t go seeking a ‘cheapest’ solution. They aren’t willing to tolerate unprofessional behavior or go to a place that doesn’t look impressive. They go where the floor is clean, the technicians are well trained and well groomed, the staff is cheerful and friendly, and where they will be treated with respect.

My son works for one of the world’s top hotel chains. He’s the Director of Human Resources and oversees a staff of 600 people. He tells me that when he’s hiring, the first thing he looks for is hospitality professionals; people who seem to belong in the upscale, elegant hotel environment. People who look, sound and act like they belong there. He’s not seeking skills first. First, he wants Attitudes and Habits. If the person has the right mindset and personal work habits then he knows he can train them in the other skills they will need. And, if they don’t have the mindset and self-discipline, he knows it’s unlikely they will acquire them without a lot of supervision.

So, who are you hiring? What do you look for first? How about seeking someone that you will look forward to working with each day? If you don’t enjoy them then it’s sure that your customers won’t. Find workers that like people and love your business. Find problem-solvers who gain real satisfaction from making things work again. Ask them to tell you about a time when they solved a problem and see if their eyes light up as they describe it. Ask what they find the most satisfying about working in this field. Then hire the folks who your customers will be proud to call “my specialist”.

The folks who are generating more and more business among the upscale customers are consistently focused on upscale markets, not desperate people. They don’t waste time seeking the cheapest sources of parts. Instead, they spend their time serving customers amazingly well and marketing to the best referral sources. They get active in the community and look for ways to earn a reputation as a dedicated business professional. Start with the professional mindset and you’ll find that you CAN get there from here!

~Jim Cathcart professional speaker and founder of the Cathcart Institute