The people business

Over the last month, I’ve done interviews with a lot of different sources in the aftermarket on a multitude of topics. I’ve talked to distributors, service providers, dealer principals, suppliers, aftermarket advisors. I’ve talked to managers, company presidents, sales and marketing managers.

We’ve discussed business management techniques, day-to-day operations and service. Almost every area of this industry has been covered.

And yet despite that wide range of topics, and all of those different sources and questions, there was still one answer I received at least once in every interview. It came from separate questions. It came at various points in the discussion. But it always was mentioned, and each source emphasized it as a key driver to success in the given topic of discussion.

People drive this business.

It’s so true. No matter where you fit in the aftermarket, if you want to succeed, you have to have people on your side.

Distributors need good people who know how important their customers are, and understand what it means to do ‘whatever it takes’ to help. Suppliers need good people who can receive requests and concerns from customers and provide solutions.

Dealers need salespeople who know how to sell customers on their ‘total package’ solutions. Service providers are only as successful as the motivated, dedicated service techs in their bay. It goes on and on.

We call this the aftermarket, but it’s really the people business.

For proof, just look at the articles in this month’s magazine.

Our cover story provides a guide for aftermarket businesses considering expansion. While there is a lot of operational and financial planning that can be done to maximize expansion success rates, ultimately it is up to the staff at a new location to properly execute the expansion plan.

The same can be said for our feature on core management and recovery. The most important step in maximizing core return rates is assigning dedicated employees to oversee the operation.

And our Distributor of the Year profile of Long Island Truck Parts? Go check it out. Company President Bobby Naples is extremely complimentary of the staff in his business.

“You can’t underestimate how important it is to have the people that we have,” he says on page 12.

Your business is what it is today because of the people working in it.

They make everything go, and you can never forget that.

So as summer winds to close, I advise all the managers and business owners out there do something fun for your employees to thank them for all the work they do. Maybe have a picnic on a Friday afternoon, or an evening barbecue. Just try to get everyone together. Invite families or spouses; tell everyone to bring the kids.

Try to show your employees you understand and appreciate how important they are to you, because it’s true, and they deserve to know that.

If there’s one thing I learned when employees came up in this month’s interviews, it is how much people truly appreciate kindness and respect from employers, and how businesses can strive from that.

Good pay makes loyal employees, but good relationships make great ones.

“You have to treat people right,” says Edward Neeley, president at Truck Supply Co. of South Carolina, and fellow Distributor of the Year nominee, discussing his business for an upcoming article. “We view our employees as family and offer them our utmost respect.”

He adds, “You have to treat them the way you’d want to be treated.”

Oh yes, the Golden Rule. True when you learned it in Kindergarten and still to this day.

In a people business like the aftermarket, it’s an absolute necessity for long-term success.

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