Identifying Problems is the Key to Engaging Website Copy

Identifying Problems is the Key to Engaging Website Copy

Guest writer Joanne Costin brings practical tips for writers this week in her blog post on “Identifying Problems is the Key to Engaging Website Copy.”

When writing copy for your website, it’s important to identify the problems your products and services solve. You may not realize it, but they are a magnet for website traffic. Uncovering how your products and services solve problems is good for both business and drawing potential customers to your website. 

Listen in on conversations about your products and services on social media. Participate in discussions Forums and within LinkedIn groups to learn the language of customers. For example, I recently used a Reddit forum on layout robots to help me write a client blog post on the topic. 

Problem-focused web content can even lead to new applications for the product. Knowing what equipment works best in a specific construction application adds value, as does versatility. Take a lesson from WD 40 — a brand built around more than 2,000 uses of the product. In this post, they share applications for a new product, the WD 40 precision pen. 

Here are some effective ways construction marketers can find “problem” talk for their website:

1) Create your very own contractor forum.

2) Ask customers to submit new applications for your product.

2) Conduct customer interviews among diverse types of customer groups such as landscapers vs. building contractors. 

3) Monitor forums for questions related to your products. Start a Q&A column or blog on your website.

4) Develop an advisory board for your product comprised of people who use the product or service regularly.

5) Solicit product usage tips from the professionals and build community around information sharing.

6) Give fans reasons to interact with you. Find a worthy cause to unite you.

7) Celebrate your customers. Submit photos of customers using the product to feature on the site. Reward great photos as well as interesting product applications.

You can’t solve a problem until you fully understand it. Make uncovering problems part of your process and see where the inspiration leads you. 

Joanne Costin is an award-winning business journalist, content writer and content marketing strategist with more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry.

You can reach Joanne at Contentforbiz.com.

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Data Data Data

Data Data Data

Guest writer Andy Fanter writes this week’s blog post on the topic every business owner needs, “Data Data Data!”

I have worked for construction machinery dealers for 30 years now. They send me their sales data and make forecasts. They thrive on year to date, are we doing better than last year?   

Sometimes there are anomalies: maybe they sold a big package to a quarry, mine, or highway project that is not repeated often, or the service department had a number of large rebuilds. They happen, but not often, and this year over last year continues to rule.

Then there is construction data important to the dealers, and retail sales data, consumer spending, it is important to the lift truck dealers. For some reason both of these categories end up in this month versus last month’s comparisons. The latest example, US construction put in place—analysis of seasonally adjusted numbers—that makes me cringe and month over month comparisons. It had one of my great clients nervous. I dove into the data; US construction put in place is not my usual study. Find not seasonally adjusted data…first quarter adds up to $461 billion, first quarter 2023 adds up to $416 billion…10.8% over 2023. Client is up around +5% over 2023, too.

Retail sales:  all kinds of consumer confidence reports, month to month comparisons, stock market selling off retailers, has dealers worried, too. Unadjusted retail sales in Q1 2024 vs Q1 2023 are up 3%. This is a respectable number in a good economy. Consumers spent more in January sales, Valentine’s Day month, and Easter month than last year.

Fanter summary:  you operate your business on year-to-date comparisons, with no seasonal adjustments, and a rare “one time” occurrence anomaly. Why do you look at adjusted data with no year-to-date comparison?

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What Would You Have Done?

What Would You Have Done?

Guest writer Tom Barry is back this week to ask us to consider how we will approach our market and our leads in “What Would You Have Done?”

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

However, it is a long and lonely day sitting at your home or office as an order taker waiting for prospective customers to come knocking or calling! Especially, when you realize that customers either purchase logically and support their decision emotionally or purchase emotionally and support their decision logically. Either way, you must be prepared to cover both sides of these motivating drivers! The more you practice, drill, and rehearse… the better the odds of a favorable outcome! 

In what follows is a true-life portable mobile cellphone sales presentation story which shares insight of contrasting styles of differentiating value propositions, and the importance of strategy preparation. In our country which now boasts nearly three hundred million handheld cellphones, it is a time warp journey through a level of abstract reasoning for Generation Z to appreciate a past world where there was a need for investment justification for the availability, rental, or ownership of a mobile cellphone. Nevertheless, new technology is always a blink away and so are the strategies and skillsets required to be ready to gently lead prospects to the latest and greatest products in a manner that serves to illuminate clear recognition of existing afflictions/challenges so to desire a new improved reality! 

Preamble: By 1985 in the San Francisco, CA Bay Area, the first six (6) cell phone towers were constructed. The TV announcements began with local news coverage that related their completion and soon to come launch of cellphone services. Specifically, the event to showcase the technological event was for five (5) Site Seeing Air Touring Balloons to be launched from remote Bay Area locations. Each group of Balloon travelers were outfitted with a portable cellphone so that the ground-based chase vehicles, also equipped with same, could communicate via their portable mobile phones in order to coordinate the precise wind influenced landing spots for each Air Balloon trek. Timely retrieval, safety, and efficiency were to be showcased! Truth be told, a couple of Air Balloons full of passengers and an experienced pilot crashed and started fires, others landed far off the cellular grid and resultantly, the cellphones did not all perform as anticipated. 

Note: Portable Cell Phones at the time ranged in MSRP from…$2,000 to $6,500. There were two models to choose from. The lower priced unit was akin to a car battery with a carry handle and a phone handset with a keypad (approx. weight of 20 lbs.). The higher price unit was a transportable unit that was designed to be installed in a car with the transceiver in the trunk and a portable handheld handset mounted near the dash which could also be detached and carried in a purpose designed suitcase (approx. weight of 8 lbs.). Both units had handsfree speaker capabilities. The limited battery portable life technology of the day required overnight charging for generating just hours of standby or call usage.

The fixed service fee cost to have the mobile phone access the tower grid after purchase was $45/mo. and this came with 60 minutes of ‘FREE’ talk time. Beyond this price and free included minutes… the cost was .45 cents per minute irrespective of the call being an outgoing or incoming call. It added up quickly!

I worked for a startup affiliate cellular phone business distributor. Their sales protocols were that their telemarketing department generates two leads per day for each Communications Consulting Sales Rep. It was a 1-Call-Close scenario with no follow up opportunities permissible for that sales associate on that generated lead. The prospect was called by a telemarketer and told someone was going to be in their area and could stop by to answer any questions they may have on the new cellular services available in the Bay Area. That was it!

One Call Close:  On a Friday @5:00PM a Telemarketing Lead came through… ‘The last one for today’ – stated the Telemarketing Manager (TM) of a 20+ person Telemarketing Pool to a group of six of us in sales who were already heading towards the exit door. We were off to meet up at the local bar to catch up with the other 12 or so that were already heading that way from the field… ‘California Style’ as I came to learn… as the General Manager (GM) bought the first and last round to end the week so to celebrate a favorable group sales tally.  

‘Who wants it’ – the TM shouted? ‘Who and where is it’ was heard back from our group. Quickly, it was established that two very capable sales reps had already called on that specific lead in the prior months and were rather convincing in relating with brevity that it would be a colossal waste of time.  Even the GM listening in was agreeable that it was likely a waste of time. 

New to this business, I was on the job just 60 days at this point. As the GM was expressing his skeptical view, I noticed the TM’s facial expression reveal a bit of  dejection and so I instinctively grabbed the lead out of the TM’s hand and stated in a self-confident tenor… ’There are no weak leads only weak salesmen’ –  my borrowing a line from the Glengarry Glen Ross book (1984).  Adding as I looked at my watch… ‘it takes me 15 minutes to get there… and only 10 minutes to get to the bar we all are to meet at from that spot. Have my Molson Gold poured and ready and I’ll be there with a check in 2 hours’. My GM thought it was the coolest thing he had ever heard, as my peers were only confirming in their minds that I was just another all-knowing pompous ass from U.C. Berkeley. 

While enroute, I knew that I had to find a way to do something that two very competent sales associates – each with at least a decade or more experience than I in sales did not get done. What did I know? I knew that the other two more experienced sales associates would have covered every nuance associated with the templated presentation on the cellphones, pricing, options, value proposition, etc. They knew how to manage objections and close 1-Call-Close deals. They had at least six months more experience in the industry than I did. What am I to do?

As I neared the appointment location, I assessed if I’m going to sell a mobile phone on a 1-Call-Close… The customer must have the ability to afford it. If he can’t afford it… which only takes a minute to determine… there’s not much that I can do… right? 

This prospect had no idea that I was aware that two other sales associates from my company had already pitched and failed with him. As I parked my car, I convinced myself that this prospect wanted a cellphone and wanted to be both informed and convinced prior to making a final decision. Although, still in the back of my mind I wondered if perhaps he was just lonely and couldn’t bring himself to hang up on a telemarketer. I was about to find out either way.

As I assessed the nuances of what might be relevant to address, I suspected there was a possible lack of warm up or enthusiasm with the other two sales associates. Beyond their both being the top monthly sales associates, I only knew one was a former professional football player and the other was still very British. 

Therein, I decided to establish a connection with this prospect so to foster an amicable rapport. Forge enough of such, so that I could speak directly with personable likeability. I endeavored for the prospect to ride my upbeat enthusiasm to inspire his confidence to invest in this technology in a manner whereby he could sense the favorable aspects of a new reality of what this functionality could deliver. After all, I needed to get to the bar on a forecasted timeline – tick tock. 

Upon arrival at the place of business, I spent 20+ minutes just with the banter exchange and warm up with my prospective customer. All was good and so I began… skipping 90% of my presentation as I knew he had heard plenty of it prior… 

‘Mr. Customer, it is clear to me from our conversation and my observations here today that you are a very successful business owner. I’m sure that when it comes to matters such as making new investments in (his service business diagnostic tools that I had observed) that you do your homework so to make the very best decisions. I don’t have any doubt that you would allow me to be here to waste your time to discuss the prospects of buying a mobile cellphone if you did not already do your due diligence and make the decision that you want to own one for the very same reasons you wouldn’t come to work and try and make money without the use of the phone on your desk.  Am I correct? I got my first ‘Yes’ reply! 

Mr. customer, I know my products and I’ve gleaned from your sharing about your operations here to make the appropriate best model selection for your needs. Aside from the investment price of the equipment, take that completely out of the conversation for the moment, if you are 100% convinced that this is the right decision to proceed and invest, is there anything that stands in your way of approving this decision now? 

‘No…if the price is right, we are good.’  

‘Great! The price is the easy part of this conversation. Mr. Customer… please help me help you on this point…I see you have a 10 key calculator there… let’s look at this from the perspective of big animal pictures… you have four service vehicles plus your own as you stated… and that they easily average 18,000 miles per year each. I’m not that good at math… if you would be so kind… please help me. That’s what… 5 x 18,000 = 90,000 miles per year across your fleet. With all the stop and go in the Bay Area… the avg. speed is 30mph at the highest. So, as a worst-case scenario, divide 90,000 miles by 30mph. That equals what? A few keystrokes later and 3,000 hours a year – was his response.’  

I asked him to divide that 3,000 hours by 40 hours a week. I answered, ‘Yes,’ to his reply that ‘75 weeks’ of possible time savings where the most important user of the portable phone within his business has access to it to be more productive. Mr. Customer, can you imagine coming to work for the next 1.5 years and running your business and trying to optimize productivity and profitability without access to the phone on your desk? His eyes lit up a bit. 

Lastly, if you would be so kind… multiply the value of either your serviceman’s time or your own (the amount you pay or earn in a week) by seventy-five. I don’t need to know the answer…just plug it in for your eyes. As he entered his keystrokes, I shared – ‘The investment in this portable phone that can go with the person with the greatest need for timely and safe operations, not to mention the time outside of work for you as well, makes a lot of sense, wouldn’t you agree?’  

The entire time I am writing up the order and by the time he punches his calculator and gets his answers – I’m turning the paperwork around for him and say …I’ll just need your authorization right there at the ‘X’ (as I laid down a pen upon the agreement) and a check for $2,000 made out to GTE MobileComm.

 (keep in mind that generally, nobody wants to purchase or sign anything… however, they are more than amenable to authorize plenty). 

Without hesitating, and before he picked up the pen, I added…I’ll deliver your phone tomorrow morning by 10:00AM personally and show you all the features. Is 10:00AM best for you or do you prefer the afternoon? If he answers the question about 10:00AM or afternoon…in a favorable manner…he just purchased a portable mobile phone. 

Fifteen minutes later, I walk into the bar with a somewhat hurried/tired look only to find 12 of my co-workers (11 salesman and the TM) and my GM at the edge of their dining seats wondering who was going to win the bet on my sales call outcome that they collectively had been debating and negotiating over the prior hour.  They all looked up as I entered the room, and they greeted me with a collective “WELL – Did you get it”? 

Dejectedly, I uttered… let’s look at this with positivity in that at least the good news is that I’m two minutes early as I looked at my watch… my boss drops his head thinking that he is buying everyone’s dinner and drinks and says ‘and the bad news’? I replied… The bad news is that parking was hell! As I slammed the signed agreement and the customer’s $2,000 check onto the table in front of my GM! My GM jumps up and screamed ‘bullya’ – extending a high-five! 

The prior two sales associates that called on the same customer prior simultaneously launched from their chairs as they walked around the table to see the signed paperwork and inspect the check as they were both in disbelief. 

The Company, Telemarketing Manager, Telemarketer, and I made money as a result and my GM, Telemarketing Manger and I ate for free! From that point forward, I received what I assessed to be the best qualified lead opportunities that came out of the Telemarketing Dept. The Telemarketing Manager used my success story on this call to motivate his department to always give their best efforts. I’m not saying that this preferential treatment was the way it should be – it was just the way it appeared to work out!

In the months that followed, I went on to shatter the company record with twenty-eight consecutive 1-Call-Closes. The GM assigned the nickname of “The Machine” to me during my remaining time there. You would have had to have read the aforementioned book or have seen the movie circa 2001 to fully appreciate!

“There are many people who think they want to be matadors, only to find themselves in the ring with two thousand pounds of bull bearing down on them, and then discover that what they really wanted was to wear tight pants and hear the crowd roar.” – Terry Pearce

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Marketing Isn’t Here to Just Make Things Pretty

Marketing Isn’t Here to Just Make Things Pretty

Learning Without Scars is pleased to introduce our new guest writer, Stephanie Smith. This week marks her debut blog post for LWS, with “Marketing Isn’t Here to Just Make Things Pretty.”

Stephanie Smith, a seasoned marketing strategist with over 15 years of experience across blue-collar industries like manufacturing, agriculture, and heavy equipment. After serving these industries, she identified a crucial need for strategic marketing solutions across all blue-collar industries. 

With a proven track record of developing collaborative sales and marketing strategies that drive new revenue growth by leveraging new technologies Steph’s passion for supporting blue-collar workers and their businesses led her to a pivotal point in her career to launch a startup marketing community. Dedicated to delivering go-to-market strategies specifically crafted for small to mid-sized business structures in these industries, The Grind Marketing Collective helps companies navigate digital transformation and thrive in today’s business landscapes.

As the Founder of The Grind Marketing Collective, Steph leads a team of talented professionals responsible for developing and executing innovative and impactful marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, customer engagement, and revenue growth for the companies they serve.

Stephanie is always open to connecting! To contact Stephanie visit thegrindmarketingcollective.com or email her at stephanie@thegrindmarketingcollective.com

Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of serving many blue-collar industries from manufacturing to agriculture to heavy equipment – While all seem different on the surface, there have been many overlapping themes that linked each of these experiences together. 

The top reoccurring theme has been the misconception of what marketing is and how it can benefit their overall business. 

If an organization did embrace it initially, marketing was frequently considered a task to be tackled only if time and resources allowed. In many organizations, it was even delegated to whoever had a spare moment, often falling into the lap of administrative assistants as an additional duty alongside their primary responsibilities.

While it’s true that basic marketing tasks can be learned by almost anyone, effective marketing requires a combination of creativity, strategic thinking, analytical skills, and domain knowledge. It’s a specialized field that benefits from dedicated professionals with the expertise to navigate its complexities.

That’s typically where I would come into the organization.

At some point, the organizations I’ve served recognized the need for integrated marketing strategies. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for more progressive organizations that have understood the power of embracing new marketing strategies and that customer buying behaviors change over time.

Marketers are no longer just responsible for generating brand awareness, creating flyers, planning events, and running the company website. They need to think carefully about each stage of the buyer’s journey and work collaboratively with the Sales Team to create go-to-market strategies that help to break through the noise to capture the minds of potential customers.

As business landscapes continue to evolve and competition intensifies, the importance of marketing cannot be overstated. It’s no longer sufficient to simply offer a great product or service; it’s equally important to effectively communicate your value to potential customers. In today’s digital age, where consumers are bombarded with a constant stream of information and choices, effective marketing is the key to breaking through the noise.

Mobile devices, apps, machine learning, automation, and much more allow customers to get what they want almost exactly at the moment they need it. The point of difference for your company will be you providing answers to your customers’ questions in a way that they can access and empower them to take action.

We are living in a day and age where access to information and solutions are endless.

Changing the status quo for our industry.

Recognizing this need for adaptation, and that many blue-collar companies need assistance navigating the challenges of digital transformation is why I decided to leave my traditional marketing role. Leading me to embark upon the journey of establishing a marketing consultancy dedicated to aiding companies in this transformative process.

Moreover, the allure of helping businesses unlock their full potential in the digital realm is a powerful motivator. This is more than a career—it’s a calling! There’s a unique joy in witnessing a client’s transformation—from finding their digital footing to confidently navigating the online landscape with finesse.

The heavy equipment industry has always been based on relationships and handshakes. That hasn’t changed, however, the landscape in which the relationship is built has.

At The Grind, our mission is simple: to help businesses identify gaps in their go-to-market strategies and implement creative marketing tactics that benefit their bottom line.

In this new venture, I look forward to continuing to push boundaries while introducing game-changing strategies to blue-collar industries and running alongside a team driving digital transformation, helping businesses adapt, and ensuring they not only survive but thrive in today’s business landscape.

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What Is an Industry Analysis and What Can It Do for Your Business?

What Is an Industry Analysis and What Can It Do for Your Business?

Guest writers Debbie Frakes and Steve Clegg are back with another resource available to businesses in “What Is an Industry Analysis and What Can It Do for Your Business?”

Equipment dealers only have a limited number of resources at their disposal. The key to being successful is allocating those resources in the most productive, efficient way possible. When it comes to your marketing and sales efforts, it’s impossible to target everyone. You must make important decisions about who to go after based on who will produce the most value for your business. 

The key is to target potential customers who are most likely to work with you. An industry analysis tells you who those people are. 

What is an industry analysis?

Zintoro conducts your industry analysis by determining which industries are most prevalent in your customer list. By looking at Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes, you can identify which industries your different customers are in and which industries you do business with most often. 

Part of the industry analysis is looking at the customer count, sales volume, revenue, number of potential customers, and a variety of other key metrics for every SIC code found in your list. That way, you can understand the market potential for each segment of your current customer base and how much value they can produce for your business. 

Armed with the knowledge of your customer base and the revenue potential of different industries, you’ll be better informed on which new prospects to target with your limited resources. An industry analysis helps you focus your time, money, and effort on increasing your market share in the industries that you know have the most potential for your equipment dealership. 

Use what the industry analysis tells you.

Conducting a Zintoro industry analysis gives you a better understanding of your customers and how valuable different segments of your base are. Once you know who will deliver the greatest return, you will know where to invest your marketing and sales resources. More than just giving you directions, an industry analysis also helps you tailor your messaging, exclusive offers, and even inventory to appeal to the most valuable segments in your customer list. 

For example, if you sell excavators, but you find out that most of your customers exclusively oversee demolition projects instead of digging jobs, then you can change your marketing and sales messaging to match that. In your emails you can use pictures of excavators demolishing a building and highlight features of the machine that are most useful on demo jobs. The more targeted you are at the customers that produce the most value, the fewer resources you’ll waste going after customers who are less likely to work with you.

Start better understanding your customers and your business by contacting Zintoro for an industry analysis today

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Perpetual Growth of Leaders Through Lifelong Learning #MondayBlogs

Perpetual Growth of Leaders Through Lifelong Learning #MondayBlogs

Guest writer Virginia Cooper returns this week with another look at ongoing education in “Perpetual Growth of Leaders Through Lifelong Learning,” our contribution to #MondayBlogs.

In an ever-evolving world, the concept of lifelong learning stands as a cornerstone for community leaders. It’s not merely about the accumulation of knowledge but rather a continuous journey of personal and professional development. This article from Learning Without Scars aims to underscore the significance of lifelong learning for community leaders, focusing on how it can shape their skills, perspectives, and effectiveness. By embracing a culture of perpetual growth, leaders can better serve their communities and foster environments of innovation and resilience.

Enhancing Leadership Abilities

Strong leadership is not an innate trait but a skill honed over time. Lifelong learning plays a pivotal role in this process.

  • Adopting New Leadership Styles: Exposure to diverse perspectives encourages leaders to adapt their leadership style to different situations and individuals.
  • Strategic Decision-Making: Continual learning fosters the ability to make informed, strategic decisions in the face of complex community challenges.
  • Emphasis on Self-Discipline: The essence of leadership lies in self-discipline. It enables leaders to model the values and work ethic they wish to see in their community.
  • Conflict-Resolution Skills: Learning about and experiencing various conflict-resolution strategies equips leaders to handle disagreements constructively.

Furthering Your Education

The pursuit of formal education, at any stage of life, can significantly enhance a leader’s expertise and credibility.

  • Online Computer Science Degree: When a person works to complete your online computer science degree, leaders are empowered with digital literacy, which is crucial in today’s technology-driven world. 
  • Interdisciplinary Studies: Engaging in interdisciplinary studies broadens a leader’s understanding of various sectors, promoting a holistic approach to community development.
  • Cultural and Ethical Understanding: Courses in cultural studies and ethics enhance a leader’s ability to navigate and respect diverse viewpoints and moral considerations.

Networking and Collaborative Learning

Lifelong learning often involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone to connect with others, fostering a network of collaboration and support.

  • Joining Professional Groups: Engaging with professional networks offers opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and shared learning.
  • Attending Workshops and Conferences: These gatherings provide a platform for exchanging ideas and staying abreast of current trends and challenges.
  • Community Engagement: Participating in community events and projects helps leaders understand the real-time needs and dynamics of their constituents.

Staying Abreast of Technological Advancements

In a rapidly changing technological landscape, staying updated is key for effective leadership.

  • Regularly Attending Tech Webinars: This keeps leaders informed about emerging technologies and potential applications in community development.
  • Hands-on Experience with New Technologies: Experimenting with new tools and platforms enhances a leader’s ability to integrate technology into community initiatives.
  • Promoting Digital Literacy in the Community: Leaders can advocate for and implement programs that increase the community’s engagement with technology.

Personal Development and Wellness

A leader’s personal well-being is integral to their effectiveness and resilience.

  • Mindfulness and Stress Management: Learning and practicing mindfulness techniques can help leaders manage stress and maintain clarity of thought.
  • Physical Fitness: Regular physical activity contributes to overall health, energy levels, and mental sharpness.
  • Lifelong Reading Habit: A habit of reading not only expands knowledge but also promotes empathy, imagination, and cognitive flexibility.

Lifelong learning is an indispensable tool for community leaders. It equips them with the necessary skills, knowledge, and perspective to navigate the complexities of leadership effectively. By committing to continuous personal and professional development and furthering their education, leaders can inspire change, foster community growth, and create a lasting impact. In this journey, the pursuit of knowledge becomes not just a professional obligation but a personal mantra for growth and resilience.

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Effective and Affordable Lifelong Learning Strategies

Effective and Affordable Lifelong Learning Strategies

Learning Without Scars is pleased to introduce a new guest writer and fellow educator this week. Virginia Cooper is a retired community college instructor. She always encouraged her students to see the real-world value in their education, and now, she wants to spread that message as wide as possible. Her hope is that Learn a Living will be a go-to resource for adult learners embarking on starting, continuing, or finishing their education. Her first blog post for LWS is this week’s “Effective and Affordable Lifelong Learning Strategies.”

As we grow older, learning new things can fuel fulfillment, boost cognitive agility, and ensure lively social connections. This guide, courtesy of Learning Without Scars, delves into cost-effective approaches for integrating continuous learning into daily life, thus paving the way for sustained success and personal enrichment.

A Gateway to Adaptability and Progress

Lifelong learning transcends acquiring new abilities; it’s a mindset that nurtures adaptability and resilience. It not only facilitates career enhancement and intellectual growth but also enriches personal life, fostering a sense of achievement and adaptability in an ever-changing world. By embracing this mindset, individuals position themselves to navigate the complexities of modern life with agility and confidence.

Embrace Online Learning

The digital era has transformed the landscape of education, presenting an abundance of online learning platforms. With these available programs, individuals can delve into new areas of study and enhance their skill sets without a hefty financial burden. Their flexible and user-friendly nature accommodates varying schedules and learning styles, making education more accessible. For example, if you wish to become well-versed in IT, you can explore this further by pursuing an online degree that provides deep knowledge of programming, coding, and cybersecurity. 

Open Educational Resources

The realm of Open Educational Resources (OER) presents a cost-free avenue for accessing a tremendous range of educational materials. From comprehensive textbooks to in-depth lectures and interactive modules, these resources offer a no-cost solution to high-quality education. They cater to diverse learning needs and interests, facilitating the exploration of new academic territories without financial constraints.

Libraries and Workshops

Public libraries and community centers are unsung heroes in the world of lifelong learning. Beyond their traditional roles, they offer a plethora of free learning materials, workshops, and educational programs. These community resources are pivotal in providing accessible learning opportunities, fostering a culture of shared knowledge and community-driven education.

Free Webinars and E-Resources

Webinars and other electronic resources, often shaped by industry experts, are a treasure trove of knowledge and insights available at no cost. For everything from proper welding techniques to how to code, they offer perspectives and information that can be pivotal for both personal and professional development. These options, accessible in various formats, are a testament to the accessibility of quality education in the modern age.

Listen and Learn

Podcasts have revolutionized the way we consume information, offering a convenient medium for learning during otherwise occupied moments like commuting or exercising. They cover a diverse range of subjects, providing insights on everything from historical or scientific research and findings to learning how to diversify your portfolio through real estate investments. This format makes it possible to stay informed and inspired, turning routine activities into opportunities for intellectual enrichment.

YouTube: A Visual Learning Adventure

YouTube has emerged as a powerful educational resource, highlighting a vast array of channels dedicated to topics ranging from science to the humanities. These channels provide compelling and educational content, appealing to learners of all ages and backgrounds. 

By regularly tuning into these channels, Sophie Pomme notes individuals can continuously enrich their knowledge base, effortlessly blending education into their daily digital routine. This practice not only enhances learning but also encourages a culture of curiosity and lifelong education in an easily accessible format.

In today’s dynamic world, a commitment to lifelong learning is indispensable. By leveraging these affordable and accessible strategies, continuous growth and development become an attainable goal for everyone. Whether through digital platforms, open resources, community involvement, or multimedia content, the learning opportunities are limitless. Embracing lifelong learning as a lifestyle choice opens doors to a world of personal and professional fulfillment.

For training solutions for heavy equipment dealerships, visit Learning Without Scars today!

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Equipment Dealer Strategies for Growing Sales

Equipment Dealer Strategies for Growing Sales

Guest writers Steve Clegg and Debbie Frakes return with their blog this week covering the ways you can create lifelong customers in “Equipment Dealer Strategies for Growing Sales.”

The key to sustained success in selling equipment, parts, and service is to create long-term customers. And creating long term customers comes down to following several equipment dealer strategies that show your customers you care about their businesses and are invested in helping them grow their businesses, and that you know what works. Here are the golden rules for dealers that you need to follow:

  1. Never make your problem the customer’s problem; they have enough problems of their own, which is why they are calling you.
  2. Always say YES! Then, the question becomes when and how much.
  3. Be proactive and contact the customer before they contact you.
  4. Manage your customers’ expectations. Customers often don’t remember what you told them; they only remember what they expected to happen.

In this article, we’re going to cover these rules and strategies, and how they make you more effective at selling equipment, parts, and service, all while developing more loyal customers. 

Be positive with customers and say YES! 

When talking with customers, you should always be finding a way to solve their problem. For example, if one branch doesn’t have the part they need in stock, find the part at another location, and tell the customer when they will receive it. You don’t want to tell a customer that you can’t do something, you want to tell them how you can. If you start with a positive reply of what you can do, there’s a 70% chance of closing compared to a 50% chance if you start with a no. If you’re the dealer that can effectively solve their problem, then you will continue to be their source for equipment, parts, and service for them. 

How to respond when a customer needs a product or service from you. 

Being positive and solving the problem shows the customer that you understand their needs and care about their problems. Here is an example of the hierarchy of responding to customers: 

  1. Tell them you have exactly what they need and when you can get it to them. 
  2. If you don’t have it at a particular branch, check other locations and give them options for delivery or pickup. 
  3. If you need to order a part, figure out how long it will take for delivery, and provide options for delivery. 
  4. If the timeline of receiving the product or service doesn’t work for them, suggest other options that could work for them. 
  5. Always tell the customer the next step and provide details of how you can solve their problem.

Stay on top of communication. 

It’s your job to keep customers informed of service updates and order status proactively. If they must call and ask about something to get an update, it’s too late. One of the most important dealer strategies is to anticipate their questions and stay ahead of them. You also need to understand which forms of communication they prefer, and when is the best time to contact them. Communicating with customers on their own terms will make it easier to reach them and shows that you respect their time.

Answer the phone every time. 

Answering the phone is critical for effective customer communication. Your team should be picking up on the third ring or sooner. The reason is that the call drops off rate is 20% per ring after three rings, and customer frustration is exponential for each additional ring and every missed call. Because only 2% to 4% of callers will leave a voicemail, answering the phone is an important first step in understanding what their needs and problems are. If you’re consistently not answering the phone or a customer has several bad phone experiences, they will start to look for another company they can work with for their equipment needs. 

Managing expectations. 

Managing expectations at every point of contact with your customers opens the opportunity to create a raving fan or to lose the customer. One of the most important equipment dealer strategies we can share with you is to always undersell and over deliver. Customers will eventually leave you for the competition if you are consistently falling short of your promised timelines. In fact, the number one reason for losing customers is mismanaged expectations. Be honest with them about when they will receive equipment and parts, when service will be completed, and your rental availability. Honesty and managed expectations will develop trust and strengthen relationships.

Our partner, Zintoro, can help. 

By consistently providing value and outstanding service, you can build long-lasting relationships with your customers and increase their loyalty to your brand. Zintoro provides you with the monthly analyses of your invoices that show your customer retention rate, which customers you’re in danger of losing, customer purchase behavior that will help you anticipate their needs, and much more. They give you the tools and data you need to keep customers, improve communication, and increase your sales. 

Schedule a Zintoro demo to find out how to boost your customer retention, track and accurately forecast business performance, and better communicate with customers. 

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Struggling to Find the Right Employees for Your Dealership?

Struggling to Find the Right Employees for Your Dealership?

Guest writer John Dowling has a timely blog post this week. We are always hearing about the difficulties employers face when trying to find quality employees. Read “Struggling to Find the Right Employees for Your Dealership?” to learn more.

Are Recruiting Firms a Good Investment? Well, it depends on the firm. Do they have an excellent reputation? Are they 5-star rated? Do they have a guarantee? Do they know your industry? Do they embrace technology to drive efficiency in their process? If the answers are “yes” to all the above questions, then there is a good chance the recruiting firm will positively impact your ROI. A better question is, “Do I need a recruiting firm to be successful?” We could also ask, “Why should I use a recruiting firm to staff my dealership?”

It doesn’t matter what business book you read or what successful owner you talk with; they will always indicate that what drove their success was their people: the company’s human resources. Having the right people is more important than having the right product or business plan. People drive your business’ success. The right people and culture fit is paramount to your dealership’s success. It doesn’t matter if a candidate is qualified, if they are not a good culture fit, they can harm your company.

I worked at a dealership that had explosive growth. When I started, we were about 110 employees; in less than six years, we were over 220. That’s adding over 100 employees, and that does not include recruiting for turnover. A couple of years into it, we realized we needed a full-time HR manager, and I was tasked, on top of all my other responsibilities, to recruit and hire the HR manager. I had taken some HR classes for my degree and was familiar with HR, but I had to do more research to determine precisely what qualities and skill sets are required for a successful HR manager. I posted the job on an online job board. I continued reading articles and HR blogs and reaching out to people I knew in the industry, trying to prepare myself to source, screen, and hire an HR manager.

Well, I was successful, at least at acquiring many resumes. I remember one day, I had over 60 resumes that I had to read and decide if I should set up a phone call or not. About halfway through the stack, I started having resume fatigue. Do you know when all the resumes start looking the same, and you don’t even remember the name of the person you just read? It all just becomes a blur. For the sake of time, I began looking for things to disqualify them versus asking whether they were qualified and would be a good fit for our company. I am sure I passed over some good candidates.

A good friend and successful businessman recommended a recruiting firm to find us an HR manager. After convincing the dealer’s owner that the placement fees would be an investment in our business, they sourced a great candidate within budget. We hired him, and he helped us get to the next level. The HR manager brought years of terrific value to the company, especially compared to the placement fee we had to pay the recruiting firm. It was some of the best money we ever invested in the company.

Recruiting is a full-time job; you will get sub-par results if you try to do it part-time. One of the most significant values of using a recruiting firm is freeing up capacity. Your managers only have so much mental capacity. When asking a busy sales manager, branch manager, or service manager to recruit employees, something will slip off their plate, usually customer service and profitability. It would be difficult to calculate the exact loss of potential income and customer satisfaction because the manager focuses on recruiting rather than their primary responsibility.

You may say, “We have an HR manager,” or “We have a full-time recruiting staff.” That might be true, but Jay Lucas, President of JSA, always says, “Recruiting is like a pineapple.” HR managers are juggling compliance, compensation, and employee satisfaction, similar-sized fruit. Then the company president throws in a pineapple, recruiting; it just doesn’t fit. What usually ends up happening is that the pineapple hits the ground, or the HR manager tries to juggle the pineapple, and everything else stops. Recruiting is a full-time job, and a company should always continue recruiting. Would your sales associates be recruiting or working in the shop? No, the sales associates must keep their sales activity funnels full, and I say the same for recruiting: you must keep the recruiting activity funnel full. There is not an on/off switch. Recruiting is a process.

I know some companies have a whole department of full-time recruiters. If you’re large enough, this may be a workable model. However, I would challenge you to determine your actual payroll cost, benefits, oversite, and additional office space for a service that could be outsourced and performed more efficiently. We must focus on what we’re good at.

Heavy equipment dealerships are skilled at selling and servicing equipment. However, recruiting employees for an equipment dealership is different from selling and servicing equipment. Focus on what you’re good at, managing a heavy equipment dealership. Partner with a trusted recruiting firm that specializes in recruiting top talent for the heavy equipment industry. This will be a win-win scenario that will return an excellent ROI for all parties involved.

At Jordan-Sitter Associates, we have an excellent reputation and literally hundreds of five-star reviews to prove it. We have been in the heavy equipment industry since 1978, and we are so confident that we can find top talent that we have a money-back guarantee. We have dedicated recruiters who specialize in different subsets of our industry, be it Dealer, OEM, Sales, Product Support, Operations, or Technicians. Our sophisticated technology stack allows us to source passive job seekers, ensuring we deliver you a qualified candidate who is the “right fit” for your company! To learn more about JSA, visit our website at  https://reputablerecruiting.com/

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The CSIs in the Tire Shop #technogeek

The CSIs in the Tire Shop #technogeek

Our guest writer Bob Rutherford is back this week, along with a new hashtag (#technogeek), to talk technical about the CSIs in the Tire Shop.

At the last TMC meeting there was a lively discussion about the shock absorber and the role it plays in vehicle safety. As with most things trucking related, correct answers can be hard to come by. This is one example. The answer is totally dependent on what type of suspension system the shock has been incorporated into. 

From the textbook* on the subject, here are the various categories of suspensions: 

  Leaf spring 

  Equalizer beam:  leaf spring and solid rubber spring 

  Rubber block and torsion bar 

  Air spring:  pneumatic – only or the combination of pneumatic/leaf spring 

*Above from page 814 fifth edition Heavy Duty Truck Systems by Sean Bennett 

This white paper is concerned with only the air spring only system at this time (in bold above). The reason for this is explained in detail on page 826 about the air spring only system: 

“The primary disadvantage of the air spring is a ZERO ability to dampen suspension oscillations. For this reason, they use auxiliary dampening mechanisms such as shock absorbers.” 

Further research needs to be conducted to draw conclusions about the role of the shock in the other suspension systems listed above. One thing that is known for sure, a monoleaf spring design is very dependent on a working shock absorber as opposed to the multi-leaf spring packs have a self-damping capacity. It looks like the monoleaf design is gaining in popularity for the advertised weight savings of up to eighty-five pounds in some applications.

The more leaf springs in a spring pack the more self-damping against suspension oscillation the system will have. This reduces the need for a working shock absorber in this type of system.  

My conclusion is that on the air spring (AKA air ride) system the lowly shock has been crowned the King of Safety and needs to be recognized as such by all concerned with safety. A properly functioning shock can make the difference between a tire having the proper footprint or merely only having the equivalent of a toe print on the pavement. 

From a braking standpoint, how good is the braking system if the tires are rebounding off the pavement because the shock is worn-out? The shock is the key to keeping the tires on the road. 

Based on comments received on my prior published works I know many in the trucking industry think a shock, even on an air ride system, is not a key safety component. I am sure this is because in their mind’s eye they see an 80,000 GVW just bouncing down the interstate without a care in the world. I don’t look at that scenario; I see the last thirty seconds of an accident where a distracted driver cuts off the big rig and the driver is jamming on the brakes and turning the steering wheel with all the might the driver can muster. At that exact moment, the shocks had better be keeping the biggest and baddest tire footprint on the highway. 

So why would a truck driver drive on bad shocks? As stated, when I quoted the list of suspension systems, if the truck driver and mechanics were used to a vehicle with a leaf spring suspension, maybe worn shocks were never an issue; and that could be a very big “were never an issue.” 

In my research I have found that many tire dealers are not in the shock business and actually benefit in more tire sales when a customer brings back a cupping tire that is not covered under warranty because of a bad shock, other suspension problem, or an out-of-balance wheel end assembly. 

I have found those tire shops that see the future are using the ABC’S system (explained below) for wheel end management and so are fighting an uphill battle. 

Many drivers see a conversation in a tire shop with a CSI tone as the tire shop attempting to pull off a dreaded up sell of an unnecessary shock absorber just to pad the bill. 

Explaining the ABC’S and the CSI conversational tone with the truck owner 

It should be no mystery to anyone who has watched TV during this decade that CSI is short for Crime Scene Investigators. The ABC’S will be explained next. 

Michelin Tire Company has been distributing tire wear analysis charts to tire shops for years. The charts are titled “The Usual Suspects.”  I assume (and hope to verify someday) that someone in the Michelin marketing department saw the relationship between a tire that is dead on arrival (DOA) that like the TV show, there are always certain suspects that the death of the tire can be pinned on. 

The premise of the movie is that every time there was a crime they would round up the usual suspects, perform a crime scene investigation and figure out who done it. 

It is to the advantage of tire manufacturers to showcase the usual suspects as a troubleshooting tool for several reasons. First, they don’t have to warrant the tire and second, they might solve the mystery and have a happy customer in the future. 

I named the usual suspects the ABC’S gang. It is up to someone in the tire shop to look at the tire corpse and figure out who done it. The simple version of the gang members: 

  • Air pressure is not correct. 
    • Alignment issues 
    • Balance issues 
    • Bearing issues 
  • Centering/mounting issues 
    • Shocks & suspension issues 

It is my belief that every tire shop should have a whiteboard near the usual suspects’ chart and use it to explain what happened to the tire. 

I think every tire shop should have a whiteboard to help communicate with the driver about the wheel end system. The whiteboard could start out like the illustration, then be erased, to explain the Usual Suspects chart as it relates to the tire that arrived dead on arrival (DOA). 

As far as explaining that a shock needs to be replaced for safety reasons, the following steps need to be considered. 

First – Know how to identify an air ride suspension that needs good shocks. 

Second – Every new tire that was replaced because it was worn-out should have a new shock, again, depending on the suspension system.

Third – Further research into the cupping issue needs to be done. I think this can be a big tipoff that the shock was not replaced or there is some other unsafe condition, such as an out-of-balance wheel end that is not allowing the tire to have the proper footprint as it rotates down the highway. 

Fourth – I believe once the word is out, most tire shops will be interested in implementing the ABC’S and CSI system for their customers; the problem will solve itself.

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