Do you see things clearly in your industry? Often, it’s easier to see advancements that don’t challenge our own status quo.
A sector we’re gaining a good reputation in is agricultural equipment sales and service, which is no longer just about the machinery, it’s about the service. Whether that’s the finance options or the service level agreements, the legislation, the complexity, and the margins have all changed. Some dealers can see the new reality others are literally stuck in the mud. Why you ask? Because they don’t have the balls to accept that service (as well as product) is what keeps the customer happy, it’s what helps maintain prices and margins. Even worse, some do accept this, but they don’t do anything different to make their service better or at least easier and more cost efficient to deliver.
In this sector it’s not just about being first to market to seize an opportunity to improve, it’s also a case of not being last to realise things are not what they seem. Take the software used by the majority of main dealers (a competitor no less) it doesn’t offer half the functionality of other systems, nor has it been upgraded to reach the standard of most service management systems. Recognising changes in your industry means being open to new entrants, not just assuming that the one everyone uses, that’s hardly changed in years, is actually the leader – it’s yesterday’s leader. What motivation do they have to change when the market refuses to innovate?
But it gets worse, the integrated finance systems in the older systems are woefully inadequate by today’s standards; think about the capabilities leading systems like Xero, Sage and QuickBooks offer even a small business, all of these systems integrate with the best service management software for dealers. Some of these equipment dealers, where the finest of margins can mean make or break, are still using out of date ‘industry leading’ software because they’re frightened by the prospect of moving their finances onto the latest platforms – not the most exciting of tasks I’ll admit but surely a case of the longer you leave it the worse it is. So not only are they failing to make their service better and more productive they’re hamstrung by somebody in Accounts too stuck in their ways to brave the proven finance systems the rest of us take for granted.
So what we’re left with is a situation where only the intelligent business owners who recognise their industry is becoming service driven and see their systems are dated are those that will make changes, gain the efficiencies and customer loyalty as their great service delivery develops. The market will change quickly and those that are too late or just don’t have the balls to recognise what’s driving the value in their businesses will find things even tougher. Arrive too late to the party and customers will have chosen the better service of a rival, because it’s just equipment sales, right?!
Fortunately, I’m pleased to say we’re talking to some businesses that are seeing the light and proving the ROI has never been easier.
If you are in the agricultural machinery and equipment sales market I hope this article is of interest, you might not like my views but I can promise I’ll always be honest and straight-talking, anything else is a waste of time.