The collaborative nature of the independent aftermarket is one of the industry’s biggest strengths. Suppliers help distributors. Distributors help each other, and their repair garage colleagues. Nearly everyone shares best practices. It’s an industry that was built and subsists on cooperation.
But as useful as that is for established professionals, it’s equally daunting for newcomers. How does one break in? What’s the best way to make connections? How does someone unfamiliar with the aftermarket capitalize on its support network and make the industry their own?
Though he’s no aftermarket veteran, Thomas Nestor knows how to develop relationships. The entrepreneur turned professional speaker and business owner has built his career on his ability to meet and engage with people — and he’ll share that knowledge later this month at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) in Las Vegas. Nestor has been pegged by event organizers to discuss the Partners aspect of this year’s People, Partners, Profit event theme during Aftermarket Briefings.
“I don’t think it matters [what you do], everyone understands how vital working together and building partnerships can be for a successful business,” says Nestor.
But Nestor says acting on such a concept isn’t as easy as identifying it. There’s more to building valuable long-lasting relationships than saying hello. For anyone seeking to expand their professional network, Nestor says it’s best to have a strategy.
He plans to provide a blueprint for one at HDAW, with a presentation that will show the importance of building strategic partnerships within the aftermarket, allowing companies to see the hidden value of working together to provide targeted products and services to customers to improve their businesses.
Nestor will also share his best practices in building strategic partnerships and the six human needs that must be met for success. Regarding best practices, Nestor teases his presentation by mentioning how important it is for anyone relationship building to first identify what they want from a new relationship. He says questions such as ‘What do you (and don’t you) already know?’ ‘What are you trying to learn?’ ‘Who are the people who can help you?’ are vital to determining how to attack relationship building.
“It’s not about trying to meet everybody,” Nestor says. “You need to identify the people with whom you want to make friends.”
Nestor also plans to share his personal experiences with the HDAW crowd. A hard drinker and partier in his early 20s, Nestor says he had an epiphany at 24 that allowed him to turn his life around. By 29 he’d become a millionaire, and in his early 30s he embarked on a professional speaking career — using his unique life experiences to offer encouragement and motivation to crowds nationwide. Nestor says he likes to refer to his past as an example for his audiences. That with planning, hard work and commitment, long-term change and success is possible.
“Everyone deals with a lot of the same challenges. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in,” he says. “Once you get to talking to people, you realize none of us are that different.”
Please be sure to check back next week as Truck Parts & Service previews all of this year’s Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) speakers.