Of Pumpkins And Success Selling Truck Parts
By Denise L. Rondini, Executive Editor
I was on a webinar the other day listening to Mike Michalowicz, author of a book called The Pumpkin Plan. Michalowicz was talking about ways for small businesses to grow and made an analogy to a pumpkin farmer who grows enormous pumpkins.
It is an interesting premise that has business owners concentrate on their top customers. He calls them the strongest sprouts.
I have talked about this idea in the past in the context of firing unprofitable customers. Michalowicz takes a more positive spin, suggesting that you evaluate your customers based on how much business they bring you and what he calls the cringe factor, how difficult they are to work with.
Then he suggestions you try to find more customers who are like your best customers and that you make sure to give proper attention to them.
During the webinar I could not help but think about the businesses that have been nominated for the 2012 Truck Parts & Service Distributor of the Year: Inland Truck Parts Co., Midwest Wheel Companies, Parts for Trucks, Point Spring & Driveshaft and Six Robblees’ Inc.
I do not know if the owners of these businesses subscribe to Michalowicz’s theory, but after interviewing them, I do know that all of them are passionately committed to their businesses and are taking actions and making changes to make their businesses even better.
In chatting with the Distributor of the Year finalists a couple of themes emerged: make sure you are executing well on business basics and don’t underestimate the power of your facilities.
I think Point Spring & Driveshaft’s Bill Ryan summed up the importance of business fundamentals to overall business success best: “If you are not doing the basics correctly, you don’t have a foundation to build on. If you try to build on a weak foundation, you just don’t go anywhere.”
If you want to grow the biggest pumpkin, you need to make sure the environment is right.
That means things like managing inventories, managing cash flow and collecting receivables must get proper and constant attention so they can then be the strong base on which to build your business. And by excelling in business fundamentals you end up putting your business in a stronger position to weather any economy slowdowns.
During my interviews, I was surprised at the number of finalists who either had finished building new or remodeling existing facilities or were in the process of doing so. Two different reasons were cited for doing so.
Some of the distributors like Inland’s Dave Scheer and Parts for Trucks’ Andy and Paul Raymond say they did so because they view their facilities as part of their brand. “A store that is pleasant to do business in is part of who we are,” Andy says.
Others like Six Robblee’s Andy Robblee and Midwest Wheel’s Mike Callison and John Minor did so to expand parts showrooms. “The showroom allows you to show off everything you have and [let’s] us display items customers might not know we stock,” Robblee says.
I think the thing that ties all these ideas together is that even as business picks up, you can’t take your eyes off the fundamentals nor can you afford not to bring some new and different ideas to your business.
If you want to grow the biggest pumpkin, you need to make sure the environment is right. That includes having your accounting house in order, operating first rate facilities, having highly trained employees and utilizing state-of-the-art technology.
Do all that and your pumpkins will bring home the blue ribbon.