From The CEO - September - 2017

Has It Been That Long?

This issue is GEARS Magazine’s silver jubilee. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since we first started publishing GEARS.

It’s common when someone celebrates an anniversary, whether it’s a wedding, a business, or anything else for that matter, to ask, where did the time go? I can’t believe it’s been that long. It’s the same for ATRA. I started working here during ATRA’s 35th anniversary; now here we are at 63!

It’s fun to reminisce, and we’d like to share some interesting stories and photos from years past. Check out the article on page 40.

Something else happens at anniversaries, especially wedding anniversaries: Someone inevitably asks, “What’s the secret for lasting so long?” People want to know how they made it through 25 years… even more so when it gets to 50 and beyond.

So here are some thoughts about what we do at GEARS and ATRA that, I think, keeps us at the top of our game. There’s no big secret, nothing all that special, but it’s important, and something you can put to use in your own business.

The first thing you need to do is identify your purpose. We’ve covered this before, and it’s something I’ll be talking about at this year’s Expo. It’s an important part of keeping your company focused.

Why? Because without a defined purpose, your employees will wind up defining your business as a series of task-oriented points: “We do this, that, and the other thing.”

Those points might describe what you do throughout the day, but they don’t define why you do it. They don’t provide a “big-picture” idea that people can relate to and remember. So what’s the purpose of GEARS?

The purpose of GEARS is to create a reader.

Notice there’s nothing about sales or advertising, nothing about the financial part of the magazine that pays the bills. It’s simple: Create a reader.

Creating a reader means being in touch with what the reader wants. In our case, they want to fix cars and get paid. They want their customers back on the road. It’s the test we use with each article we publish. We ask this throughout the process, and yes, we’ve tossed more than a few articles because we didn’t feel they met that goal.

Taking this to the next level, the new GEARS Magazine web site now tracks the number of “reads” for each article, providing even more feedback about what readers find interesting.

It’s no different than you getting feedback from your customers on social media and review sites. It’s what keeps you on track with what your customers want and it’s important that you get that feedback, good or bad.

In the end, though, GEARS is a business and has another group of customers: its advertisers. For them, we have another purpose, another “big-picture” idea:

Access to the industry.

Seems simple enough, right? After all, that’s why advertisers place ads in the first place: to reach their potential market.

What’s interesting about that is that it feeds right off of our other purpose: create a reader. Those readers are the industry. By creating a reader, we’re helping attract the industry that advertisers want to reach. So creating a reader provides access to the industry. Perfect!

Of course, providing access to the industry also demands that we remain focused on circulation, to make sure GEARS is reaching our market. Who’s receiving the magazine? Is it a good address?

That means access to the best and most accurate mailing list available, while continually adding new subscribers and deleting old addresses that no longer exist.

But think about this: By maintaining our mailing list, we’re making sure we reach working industry professionals… the very professionals we want to reach to create a reader. The two goals are symbiotic, each supporting the other, working together to make sure we’re meeting our two purpose statements.

The same is true about operating a transmission repair shop: By identifying your purpose, you’ll be better able to serve your customer base, and earn better reviews and more referrals. The purpose isn’t about profits or tasks; it’s a big-picture idea. These simple ideas have kept GEARS Magazine on track for the past 25 years.

I’ll be talking about creating your purpose at this year’s Expo. If you’ve never thought about it, or aren’t sure where to begin, you need to be there: Reserve your spot at this year’s Expo, and we’ll see you in Vegas!