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Wash counts are increasing, the housing market is recovering and consumer confidence is on the rise again. Even high-profile suppliers are stepping up their game, too. Based on your decision-making skills, the next 12 months could well determine who the “winners and losers” will be in the industry.
Magic Johnson creates a formidable presence. He is bright, articulate, flamboyant, imaginative and extremely likable. His quick, brilliant smile exudes confidence, and is highly contagious.
His credentials are impeccable, his successes are legendary.
Elite athletes like Magic are popular in part because they have so much in common with many business owners, including carwash operators. Their success stories typically include inspiring tales of hardship, goal-setting, making great sacrifices, overcoming obstacles, and learning valuable life-saving lessons during their incredible journeys.
Many high achievers agree with the premise that fate always favors the best prepared. In a few cases, however, top performers will also acknowledge that, at least early on in their careers, they were blessed by a big, and some would say, lucky break.
Magic Johnson is best known today as a skilled, award-winning player on many NBA Championship teams, no small achievement.
Yet I am intrigued by a troubling “what if” question. How high would Magic have risen, I wonder, if he had labored as a superb player on what was otherwise a mediocre basketball team?
Johnson’s big break occurred early in his basketball career, in 1979, when he and Larry Bird battled on the national stage in what is still the highest viewer-rated NCAA championship game ever.
Magic won that amazing contest 34 years ago, primarily because he, and not Bird, had the better team to support him.
The critical lesson is this: fate does indeed favor the highly skilled and the best prepared, but it also helps immeasurably to have a strong team behind you!
Great players and top producing business owners certainly can succeed in very competitive contests, yet breath-taking individual performances frequently can be overcome by great teams which win national championships and capture more customers.
Many carwash owners and operators display valuable skills, and possess laudable personal qualities, yet if your DNA does not include a “team building gene,” you could, unfortunately, be placing a low ceiling on your eventual success.
For this reason alone, I encourage operators to seek out and build stronger relationships with experienced suppliers. Their input and instincts can be invaluable.
The best suppliers, of course, provide many important services, not all of which are fully appreciated by many operators. In fact, the industry has changed dramatically since most operators originally bought their first washes, and now, suppliers must contribute more than simply selling, installing and servicing carwash equipment. (See sidebar on page XX)
In truth, to take the industry to a higher level of achievement, equipment suppliers must become much more skilled and adept at working with operators in the field.
For instance, during a typical buy-sell cycle, there can be hundreds of phone calls, emails and meetings between an owner and a selling organization.
As you can imagine, the chances of an accidental and faulty miscommunication happening during this lengthy and sometimes disjointed process are quite large.
Recently, a frustrated operator called and voiced to me his intense upset with an experienced and qualified equipment supplier; he would not even consider my offer to work as a mediator to resolve his concerns. In a huff, he had already decided to take his next three equipment orders to another carwash company.
In an effort to reduce the chances of confusion and miscommunication, Professional Carwashing and Detailing has developed a Supplier Checklist which can be used to your great benefit. (See sidebar on page XX)
No system or tool is perfect, of course, but hopefully this Worksheet can help you bring together the final details of your installation and start-up which sometimes can be overlooked or misunderstood.
Moving soon into the second half of an important year, carwash operators can improve their bottom lines by making conscious decisions on two vital matters.
First, you must decide to do whatever you can to build a stronger team to support your own efforts.
Next, operators must decide to evaluate your equipment supplier as closely as you would evaluate the carwash equipment itself.
Operators will discover, I believe, that many best-in-class equipment suppliers are poised now to add value in new ways to help you build a larger customer base.
In a recent interview for Professional Carwashing and Detailing, Ryko Solutions CEO Steven L’Heureux set a very high bar for an industry which has been slow to adapt to a stagnant economic environment.
“Ryko takes its responsibility to help customers build profitable carwashes very seriously, and has the products and programs to back that commitment up,” he said.
Though he is new to the carwash industry, as an experienced executive, L’Heureux has thoroughly understood and appreciated the time-tested conclusion which Charles Darwin made almost 200 years ago.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change,” stated Darwin, whose evolutionary ideas on the “survival of the fittest” apply to slowly evolving animals and businesses alike.
For savvy operators, change creates more opportunities, to be sure, but especially so for those who commit now to making the smart decisions necessary to build better teams and wash more cars.
Mike Perry has more than 30 years’ experience in retail marketing and in business-to-business sales. He can be reached at 770-330-2490, or at firstname.lastname@example.org