Editorial/Denise L. Rondini

Denise Untitled 1What to do With Lemons

It is no surprise that the results of the Truck Parts & Service mid-year survey show that an overwhelming number of distributors and repair garage owners finished 2010 in the black and that many of them expect to see higher sales in 2011 as well. (For more detailed survey results see article on page 26.)

In part, this is the result of some cost reductions, but it also reflects movement in the general economy. People are optimistic about the year overall, however there are some concerns about business in the second half.

Several people I recently spoke with are very concerned about the anemia of the construction segment in particular, and about a disturbing pattern of firms stretching out payment of invoices for longer periods.

Concerns over government policy decisions also have some aftermarket players worried.

So is it going to be a good year or a bad year? I think that depends in part on where you are located and the types of customers you service. But I also think it may depend on something less concrete.

In reading the comments of survey respondents, I noticed that while some of them focused on all the things that could go wrong, others took a different approach. They chose to reflect on being successful in spite of the challenges.

Does seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty give you an advantage?


I read comments like, “We have become very aggressive and are doing what we have to do to please the customer.” Or, “We have added two product lines and are searching for more profitable lines to increase our sales.” Or, “While it takes longer for (manufacturers) to fill orders, this gives us an opportunity to expand our inventory and be the distributor with parts on the shelf. You can’t sell from an empty wagon.”

Or, my personal favorite: “It is a combined effort in all our departments to make it successful. If you’re given lemons, make lemonade or lemon pie. Be positive and most of all don’t be lazy.”

I can’t help but wonder if the distributors and repair garage owners who are more upbeat and positive are going to end up having better years than those who are negative.

Will having an optimistic attitude make them more open to opportunities that may be out in the market? Does seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty give you an advantage?

Attitude is contagious and I have to believe that owners and managers with negative attitudes are going to transfer that negativity down to their employees. Those employees may then not make the extra effort to get the sale because, after all, what’s the use. Business is going to be bad for the balance of the year.

Maybe I am off base. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong.

On the other hand, what have you got to lose by turning those lemons into a lemon cake? It surely will taste better than the lemons themselves.

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