Anonymous Distributor

This past winter was the fourth warmest in the United States since 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That warmer winter weather has allowed the U.S. economy to continue to sputter along with some extra growth. Warmer winter weather has also meant about $30 billion extra in consumer pockets because of lower heating bills. This extra money has cushioned many consumers from rising gasoline prices, and meant more cash in their pockets to buy things like cars or even outdoor power equipment. Hurrah!


And with a record-breaking warm winter comes lots of spring-time ticks, ants and spiders. To offset that image of rampaging bugs, let’s focus on what appears to be a two- to three-week early spring season with warm days, quickly growing grass and the wonderful sound of lawn mowers doing what they do best. Put the odor of freshly cut grass and timely rainfall with all the above and you almost have OPE industry heaven!


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What have you done to bring more people into your shop or business this spring, or were you lucky enough to have them show up on your doorstep during the early warm weather? Did you try something different to market your business to potential new customers? Or, did you stick to what’s worked well for you in the past? The old adage of “The harder (and smarter) you work, the luckier (and more successful) you become,” has never been truer. You can’t afford to wait to make something good happen in your business. Ask some of the salespeople that call on you to share successful marketing ideas used by other businesses similar to yours. Don’t ever hesitate to copy someone else’s best ideas in your own business. What worked well for someone else might very well work for you too.


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I enjoy reading about relationships between businesses and their customers, and how those relationships have changed and adapted in the digital age. Aaron Shapiro, CEO of digital marketing agency Huge, wrote in an article in the April issue of the McKinsey Quarterly that consumers are increasingly interacting digitally with companies. Growing digital customer relationships means “the location of your businesses is no longer a barrier to transactions; brands alone aren’t a proxy for quality; and pricing is increasingly transparent.” Your digital customers may know as much about your product as you do. They may know your cost and selling price and your competitor’s selling price. Your digital customers probably don’t care if your run your business out of your bedroom or have a location that looks as nice as an Apple retail store.


To compete effectively, you must not only run your core business (operations) successfully, but also the software layer that connects the people who use digital media and technology to interact with your company. Most likely, your company wasn’t created to build and operate great customer-facing software. Ours wasn’t either. But you or a dedicated resource must make sure the way your customers are interacting with you digitally meets their needs, is easy to use, and strengthens your relationship with them.


The number of virtual consumers will only increase as people born after the Internet’s advent become the primary consumers and business decision makers. As time goes on, it becomes more and more critical to attract and win over digital-first consumers. You can accomplish this by making each additional digital interaction more frictionless and enjoyable. Otherwise, frustrated users will head straight to your competitors, even if their prices are somewhat higher.


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Here’s a good piece of business advice: “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”


Unfortunately, most of us learn this fact through our own experiences with this type of person. If you’re a quick learner, then I bet you haven’t repeated this mistake very often.


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I hope you are having a very busy and prosperous spring. I know our dealers and service center customers are. Be sure to keep one eye on your expenses. During busy times, we tend to watch the revenue line go up because it’s a lot more fun than making sure expenses don’t get out of hand. Exploding labor and overhead costs will quickly eat up the additional profits gained from great revenue growth. Don’t let expense surprises ruin an exciting start to your 2012 business year.


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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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