Traits of the Great - Part 2
What great business owners do
Last issue we were answering questions from an owner who was asking what was missing with regard to success in her business. The response given was that we would share a list of the traits of the best owners. The traits we had already recognized were focusing on the customer; being able to create a marketing message so that the customer would give the business their, ‘top of mind awareness’ when making a decision about where to buy a part.
Along with that was the ability to identify the customer that would spend the most money and bring the most profit. In today’s market a business cannot be everything to everybody. The adage was, ‘the better you niche, the more you get rich’.
The third component was utilizing technology for many aspects of the business; sales trends, merchandising and staffing to name a few. Following technology was the ability to understand the financial information of the business. A part of this is not becoming reliant on the accountant for everything, but instead being able to actively participate in a conversation so that the financials become a tool for making decisions.
Picking up where we left off, a key trait is the staff of the business. Just like in sports, the coach can only be as good as the players. The same is true for our businesses. The staff is essentially the face of the business; they are who the customers see, talk with and do business with.
The business that does not have a quality staff is quickly going to find itself looking for business based solely on price.
The last four traits we have to share are all about the owner of the business. The first of these is an owner that is always working to improve the business. Regardless of how modern the business, the products and the systems that operate the business, there is a need to always be working for that next competitive edge.
There have been, and continue to be, too many who think that the parts business today can be operated as it could twenty years ago; some think they can be even more antiquated. Today’s customer is younger and there are different things that matter to them. With this modernization, our business becomes a museum or a place of last resort.
A very important trait is that of the effort for self-improvement by the owner. One of the true tests is that of an owner that is reading books and attending educational sessions to learn more. A bit blunt, but this writer’s father was known to repeatedly say, ‘I am just smart enough to know that I am stupid’.
Another expression is that the average owner in the industry does not read business books; perhaps that is why they are average.
Personality is a trait that you cannot hide. It is all about having people skills; the skills to work with your customers, your employees and the vendors you do business with. This type of personality attracts people as they want to be with the individual who radiates warmth and interest in other people. Ask a few sales reps about some of their accounts.
When they say, ‘He’s OK; you just have to get to know him’, you know immediately that this person does not have the personality type we are looking for.
Our final trait is the ability to pace yourself. This person actually takes vacations and time away from the business. Part of the reason for this is their having a staff they can depend on; the other reason is this person understands the need to be refreshed.
All of these together, from the last issue and this one, provide an answer to the question first posed by the owner; ‘What am I missing?’.
Here’s our best effort for a list. They are our traits of the great.