Mike McGuire 2014-10-10 01:08:05
Yes, business is flat (or steady at best), and times are tough. The direction of the economy is unsure given conflicting numbers from the federal government, but it is a good time to grow your business by offering more valueadded services than your competitors. Target the differences (strengths and weaknesses) between you and your competitors to increase your market share. Know your strengths and your competitor’s strengths, and continue to evaluate them regularly. Determine what services you can perform better, or your competitor is unable to perform, and package them to your advantage to develop new relationships with customers and win your ever-increasing market share. When you start to evaluate your competition and the marketplace, include your own people first. Then, use other available reference and research tools like Google, social media, industry reference sites like Hoovers.com, and your valuable personal relationships with customers. When your research has reached a certain point where you feel comfortable, share your information and ideas with key managers and department heads. You might be very surprised to see the great ideas that come from within your company. The following are some ways to increase your value-added services. There is no single idea more important than another. Some might not work at all businesses, but you need to evaluate each idea to consider what might happen if it were implemented. If you have a devil’s advocate within your group who never wants to make changes because “this is the way we have always done it,” that might be your first value-added service change! 1. Maintain the correct breadth and depth of inventory for your market at the right time. 2. Evaluate how you handle returns, replacements and/or issue credits. 3. Stand behind all the fasteners you distribute and the manufacturers you represent. 4. Be the “source” for the hard-to-find fasteners. 5. Keep customers informed of NEW products. 6. Develop accurate, informative and attractive packaging and labeling. 7. Make sure your salespeople can demonstrate products and know about applications. 8. Offer customers email as an option for ordering or requesting information. 9. Be knowledgeable about various VMI services and how they all work. 10. Know your customer, and become more of a “one-stop source” of supply. 11. Offer qualified NEW customers a line of credit and the ability to use credit cards. 12. Be OPEN on Saturdays. 13. Have a 24-hour hotline and emergency delivery service. 14. Have fastener standards and suppliers’ catalogs or brochures readily available. 15. Have fastener manufacturers’ literature available as a handout for customers. 16. Have an established “sample” plan available to offer customers. 17. Use factory reps on site at a customer’s business to help with product-related problems. 18. Have current, timely pricing without a lot of delays for quotations. 19. Have a fastener reference library of all your product lines and those of your competitors. 20. Have an annual “trade show” at your location with your major product lines. 21. Assist customers with proper fastener descriptions and manufacturers’ part numbers. 22. Offer substitutions where appropriate. 23. Offer delivery options or staging on big projects. 24. Offer an easy and convenient “will call” counter. 25. Be a part of your local business community and charities. 26. Out-train your competition! 27. Add kitting service in-house, or find an outside source to meet your requirements. 28. Have an expert in fastening application problem-solving or trouble-shooting. 29. Clearly identify material specs and grades along with finishes on shipments. 30. Quote with the knowledge of future price increases, and inform your customer. 31. Ask your customers to grade your company to improve your value-added services. 32. Package fasteners or fastening systems together (e.g., socket screws with hex keys). 33. Use co-op advertising dollars to keep your customer informed of fastener product lines. 34. Help keep your customers competitive in their business! 35. Feature a website with product information, order status and your value-added services. 36. Be a dependable supplier; conduct your business in an ethical and professional manner. Those are 36 ways or ideas to increase your value-added services. You may have many of these in place now; however, have you evaluated them yourself recently? How well do they actually work for you? Are they costing your business and contributing to a loss of customers? Once you start this process, you can probably come up with another 36 (or more) ways to improve your business by increasing the value-added services you offer. One final thought: Bring The Rules for Brainstorming to your first meeting: • Defer judgment • Build on the ideas of others • One conversation at a time • Stay focused on the topic • Encourage wild ideas • Quantity, not quality
Published by American Fastener Journal. View All Articles.
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