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Writer’s Block

Much like the current temperature here in northeast Ohio, my brain has gone into a freeze. I’ve become dysfunctional, struggling to come up with some thought provoking subject matter for my column this month.


Writer’s Block

Much like the current temperature here in northeast Ohio, my brain has gone into a freeze. I’ve become dysfunctional, struggling to come up with some thought provoking subject matter for my column this month.
It’s not as though the tire industry doesn’t provide me with enough to talk about. It’s just that, well, all I’ve heard for the past week from the editor is “Where the hell is your column?” And the managing editor, trying to be a bit kinder, adds ®I’ll give you until Friday, then I might have to kill you.®
I just can’t stand that pressure to perform. That’s the problem! It’s these two jokers needling me to death. They fall asleep and wake up with 30 pages of written text. It takes me a bit longer. Now I find myself trying to shake the two of them like a bad habit so I can get a moment’s peace to collect my thoughts.
And then it comes to me when my son showed me his report card. A report card, that’s it! I’ve got it now! Thanks Geoff. Good job. Way to pass everything. Off to bed now, I’ve got a column to write.
A Report Card! Not that it’s a novel approach or technologically advanced. But it cuts right to the chase and offers a dose of reality.
So, the question is: have you done one? Have you evaluated your business recently? Have you graded the components of your business like the hard-nosed teacher you had in school? If not, it’s time, and it’s a simple but effective method to get a handle on the health of your business. Use any scale you want — 1-to-10, A-to-F or Pass/Fail ®” and take the time to grade your business on a regular basis.
You probably already walk around your dealership and file items and issues in the back of your mind that you’d like to improve upon. But they are often forgotten, displaced by more urgent matters.
If so, take the time and work up a list of the issues that are important to you. After all, you’ve built your business. You have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. So critique your company, then focus your sights on improvement.
What I’m saying is that you can’t afford to neglect the things you like or dislike about your business. Competition is simply too intense and will continue to come at you from all angles. You need to track and evaluate the issues that you know make a difference in your company’s performance on a month-to-month or year-to-year basis.
Keep your report cards and compare them. Post them if you feel its necessary so your employees can see how they’re doing and understand what’s important. And don’t be afraid to let your customers see your grades. They might offer a few good tips on how you can improve.
As I said, a report card system is not a novel approach and it doesn’t even have to involve a computer. It’s not just for mega-corporations, its works for businesses of all sizes!
I recently returned from the TBC annual meeting, where Larry Day, president and CEO of the tire industry’s largest private brand tire company, offered the TBC dealers his own version of a report card assessment on his company’s performance.
Larry graded TBC on a pass/fail basis before a room full of his dealers — who could easily be some of his greatest critics ®” applying a reality check that offered room for improvement in a few areas. He graded things like fill rates, marketing support, and territory exclusivity.
The point was that the president of this organization committed TBC to increase its awareness and performance where there was room for improvement based on a simple evaluation. Overall, I’d say that any stockholder would have been impressed with TBC’s marks. However TBC’s goal is nothing less then perfection.
In the case of your dealership, you might want to grade items like store appearance, employee appearance and knowledge, customer turn around time, the effort that goes into each sale, your product offering, extended capability programs.
At the very least, this exercise could be eye-opening, and give you a firm course of action for your future.
Well I think my “writers block” has passed. At least until next month.®′

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