One of the most important things I have learned over the years is the power of being first.
Take the space race for example; the U.S. was the first to land and walk on the moon. We even left our flag there to prove it. It was more than 40 years ago and today, the U.S. is still considered the leader in space exploration. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does because we were first.
What about being the first to start a new type of business? How many businesses with an original idea survive? Just because a person has what he or she believes everyone wants, does not mean he or she will succeed. There is nothing more powerful than starting ahead of the game.
Starting ahead can happen by purchasing an existing business. After all, the best part of a franchise is the duplication of best practices that have been proven to work. Maybe not being the first to open a business is a blessing.
Let’s get back to being first. If you don’t have a marketing plan, and you aren’t implementing one, what will happen? You will be the second call, maybe the third for customers. Yes, you’re getting calls but, you will find the types of calls you get are different. The customer who just wants it done and is okay with paying full price will be the one who only makes one call. If all the calls you get are from customers who have already called other shops, you must be cheaper, friendlier and better at everything to survive. If there is a secret to business, it is to be the one customers call first.
If you aren’t marketing to your customers, you may get to say, “I am saving money,” by having lower rent and little or no marketing costs. You also are being paid less top-line revenue because you’re not the first call. Who is the most visible in the auto glass market today? Yesterday, I was talking to a technician from, arguably, the most visible auto glass company in the country, and he reaffirmed this idea. They don’t want every customer. In fact, they are more than happy for customers who are price shopping to find other glass shops. Harvesting the insurance and top-end work pays the highest dollar amounts. This creates a situation where the secondary marketplace is competing for the second call customer with very little margin.
So how can anyone ever win? It is simple: be the best! I have been around this business long enough to know if a customer wants something done right it will be done by the locally-owned shop with trained employees who care about being first in service. Take the customer back by having customers call locally first.