Will your product continue to sell so well?
Tuesday 1 December 2020
Do you remember why you became an entrepreneur? You saw an opportunity, you felt that you could do better, you took the plunge and went for it! You did that on your own, so why would you change that approach?
Focus on your product
As long as you only make and sell physical products, your focus internally is on producing as cheaply as possible and selling as well as possible. You can do that yourself, because that is your core business. But does your product always sell well?
An entrepreneur with an installation company in irrigation units sold all over the world in the horticultural sector. He was very successful and one of his success factors was that he always met the specific needs of each customer. He had developed as a sales force and always convinced customers that his irrigation units were the best.
What about your service?
When I asked him about his service, he said it was at a very high level, because an irrigation unit requires a lot of maintenance and therefore service. Curious, I asked the entrepreneur if I could spar with his service manager, because, I hoped, maybe this entrepreneur has his services arranged!
The service manager was able to free up fifteen minutes, because it was all stress again: "We are heading for the first heat wave of the year this week and it is always noise! Because whenever the irrigation units are used the most, malfunctions occur. The annoying thing is that no two units are the same, which means that I cannot just send the first technician to a fault. With that heat a crop can be damaged so it is now all hands on deck! In addition, I also hear my director complain that customers get angry with him and threaten to switch to another supplier if they are not helped quickly enough. "
"But heat waves are no longer an exception, are they? Don't you have that at least once or twice a year nowadays? Why are you still surprised by that? "
The manager said, somewhat irritated: "Have you seen how many customers have called in the last few days? I can't help that! "
Perhaps that was a bit too clever for me, so I asked: "How many services do you have on average per week and how much room do you have for calamities?"
"You really don't understand, do you! The circus starts again here every Monday. Then I start with an empty diary and within a few hours the week fills up with fault reports and questions from customers that I have to get rid of. Every week it is a struggle to get everything planned, which often does not work out completely. And they keep calling! "
Only now it became clear to me, this service department was 100% reactive to solving malfunctions and questions. Every week, even every day, it was a struggle to schedule twelve mechanics and buses ad hoc. This service manager was lived. He did as he was told, but was never able to get ahead of the expected flood of disruptions.
The boss decides?
"Suppose you could redesign your service department tomorrow, what would you do differently?"
"I would first like to make it clear to customers that they must perform preventive maintenance as we prescribe, so that they have fewer failures, incur less costs and we can plan our work better and thus create a supplementary revenue model. Then I would like to have a good conversation with our sales and engineering department, because why does every unit have to be different? Finally, I would like to make an annual plan to preventively inspect and service the irrigation units, so that the chance that everyone calls at the same time is reduced in extreme weather conditions! ”
I was impressed how sharply the service manager saw the opportunities for improvement. So I asked very cleverly, "Then why don't you do that?"
Then the service manager started to laugh: "The boss is only looking at the sales and we have to keep our customers low. It's always been that way, so he thinks it's going very well. "
Start with a good conversation
The service manager has a point. If you focus on sales, the other departments must connect. But what if sales decline? And what if the customers become dissatisfied? How long will this go well?
You can of course hire a professional to hold up the mirror to you, but before you do, it might be useful to have a good conversation with your service manager first. Give them the space to talk to customers about maintenance during a quieter period. It is even possible to earn money from that preventive maintenance, so that the equipment at your customers will function fault-free for longer and at the same time you incur less service costs!
Do you also want to know how services can boost your business?