When And Where Should You Spend Money?
Guest writer Jennifer Albright addresses the money issue head-on by asking the question “When and Where Should You Spend Your Money?”
As a supply chain professional, I pretty much had to buy this when I saw it on the sale table at a local museum. This topic actually comes up quite often in our consulting life – advising dealers on when to cut corners and when to spend. It could be anything from office supplies to personnel to software and anything in between, the dealers we work with are constantly asking us when and where to invest their time, money, and people.
While the answers will vary from dealer to dealer depending on a number of factors – company size, years in business, geography, the commodity in question, and many others, there are a few constants that are always worth the investment.
It is always worth investing in people. Hire the best folks you can, and invest in training and development. Your people are your brand, and they will make or break your dealership. Whether someone is answering the phone, turning wrenches, selling equipment, or paying the bills, invest in your people. While salaries can take a chunk out of your operating budget, it’s a lot less expensive to pay for a highly skilled employee than to train up someone with less experience or to clean up after someone who was in over their head – and much less than the cost of turnover.
This is another area where investment pays big dividends. Budgetary planning helps keep everything in check. We’ve worked with a number of folks who overspent in one area when they really needed investments in another and regretted it after the fact because they hadn’t taken the time to budget or plan for the expense. Facility planning, especially during times of growth, is huge. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve spoken with dealers who rushed through facility planning and had outgrown the new building before construction was even completed, or hadn’t taken the time to design the space appropriately and it didn’t fit their needs well despite appearing to be large enough on paper. Planning takes time which can be frustrating, and can seem expensive in terms of hiring design firms, financial folks, or investing in software, but it is well worth it.
There are so many choices available right now in every area of dealer business and many of them can bring efficiency and in turn savings to the dealership. If nothing else it can be a bigger challenge to weed through all of the options and decide which technology tools best fit your dealer size, complexity, and will address your biggest challenges versus chasing each shiny new tool that catches your eye.
At the end of the day, it’s about priorities and risk. Looking back at our raccoon friend Reuben in the photo, there will be times when a cheap plastic sword will serve your purposes because it’ll get the job done 90% of the time and you can have a plan B to handle exceptions. In other situations, investing in a metal sword may be the best tool for the job or the risk involved with the plastic sword failing is too great. By investing in your people, focusing on planning, and leveraging technology where it makes sense, you’ll be in a much better position to make these spend decisions effectively.