Anonymous Distributor

A few things happen consistently every year in the outdoor power equipment industry. One is that the weather is never the same — month by month or season by season — any two years in a row. Another is that the week that spring, fall or winter begins and the week each of those seasons ends is never the same any two years in a row. Inconsistency is the constant. Now build your business plan around that knowledge.


Next, tell your banker that you’re just like a farmer: If it rains, business will be good; if it doesn’t rain, business will probably be bad. And tell your banker that if the economy is booming, you may do well; but if the economy is bad, your service work may go crazy and you may do even better. Then, ask your banker for a loan. We should be pretty good at educating bankers about our industry after a while, shouldn’t we?


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Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


Deep down inside, you and I value safety and security, but the best life experiences come when we drop those notions and go after what we truly want, whether it feels safe or not. In the OPE industry, you and I have to be calculated risk takers. We work hard and take many risks, so that we can be successful today, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.


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Speaking of “not knowing what tomorrow will bring,” if you’re a service center performing in-and-out-of-warranty OPE service for the big multiple-store retailers, do you think the service model will change this summer? The giant mass retailers in the home improvement marketplace are never satisfied with the current state of OPE service. And that’s okay. But in their quest to improve their customers’ experience, and since buyers and vice presidents get moved up or out regularly, they consistently return to variations of past service models that ended in failure and dissatisfaction. And they don’t even remember they already tried something similar many years earlier. How do I know? Because I’ve seen it happen over and over again since the early 1970s and 1980s. Just when you thought you’d seen it all, and multiple reiterations too…the retailers in their infinite wisdom, try something new (to them). So, if changes to the mass retail service model do occur this year, hang on to your hat and be prepared to be buffeted about. And know that, in the end, they won’t be satisfied with what’s “new.” And that it will be different in another two years.


Why do I even mention this? Because the independent authorized service center is the one that always gets yanked around and suffers during these trials of new service models. The retailers and even the manufacturers can afford to invest large amounts to experiment with service models. Authorized service centers don’t have the same resources, and thus, have more at risk if they choose to participate and the model is short lived.


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Robert Brokamp, a certified financial planner and a contributor to The Motley Fool, recently said the following about college costs: “College is a big, fat, hairy rip-off! College costs too much, it saddles young people with too much debt, and it forces students to ‘learn’ things they’ll soon forget — and it won’t matter because it wouldn’t help them further their careers anyhow.”


We know today that students are graduating from college with $80,000 to $200,000 in debt, and can’t find a good job. Brokamp mentioned this alarming statistic: “Do you know that the value of all student loans now exceeds all credit-card debt?” And here are a few more: “Since 1978, the cost of living has gone up threefold. Medical costs, much to the horror of everyone in Congress, have gone up sixfold. And college education has gone up a whopping tenfold.” Brokamp added, “College costs lack the normal market-based price controls. If you’re told you need something, and someone is willing to lend you the money to get it, and you’re told it’s a great ‘investment,’ then you’ll do it, regardless of price.” I have to feel sorry for those youngsters leaving college saddled with huge debts. It’s a telling commentary on our culture.


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A man went to see a doctor after feeling out-of-sorts for a month. “Have you been treated by anyone else?” asked the doc. “No sir,” the man said, “but I did go see a pharmacist.” The doctor scolded him for seeking a layperson’s advice. “What kind of idiotic advice did he give you?”


The man thought for a minute and then replied, “He told me I should come and see you.”


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Contact the Anonymous Distributor at anonymous.distributor@gmail.com or read his blog at www.anonymousdistributor.blogspot.com.

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