From The CEO - May - 2018

Wait a Second… I’ve Changed My Mind!

Much of our waking moments are spent with exchanging ideas with others. And much of that is trying to convince people of the merits of our thinking. That is, to try to convince them that we have a better plan. Depending on how vested a person is in their ideas, it might even lead to a heated argument.

Working with employees, chatting with friends, or having those talks with your “better half” all include the art of convincing others. Nowhere is this truer than when we get into political discussions, which is why most of us try to avoid those discussions during family get-togethers.

You see, everyone thinks their ideas are the best, right? I mean really, when was the last time you heard someone say, “I generally don’t have any good ideas and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone listen to my suggestions”? Or, “Can you tell me the right way to think about this? My ideas don’t even make sense to me!” You haven’t heard that, have you? And, chances are, you never will.

And yet dumb ideas are all around us. You get on Facebook and read where some knothead blathers on about the stupidest concept imaginable and wonder how he manages to make it through the day in one piece.

We all think our ideas are pretty good. If we didn’t, they wouldn’t be our ideas. But as much as we like to think we have things figured out and are ready for a vigorous debate, there’s one place that it doesn’t belong: with customers.

I’ve had discussions with a few people recently who had concerns over the changing market and how they’re losing work to competitors down the street or even across town. What’s interesting is that they were able to describe very clearly the business model of their competitor and even express why their potential customer left their shop for their competition.

As they shared one anecdote after another, they began to describe a business model that seemed pretty successful: People were leaving one business to come to theirs. Yet, after a fairly lengthy conversation, their conclusions sounded something like this: “I need a way to convince people why my solution is better than my competitors’.”

Take a moment and let that sink in. Here’s a customer who has plenty of information available (both good and bad) and, after going into shop A, they realize that shop A doesn’t offer what they want, so they go to shop B. You can take this process and move it to buying a television or washing machine or even something boring like tires or a roof on your house and it’d be easy to follow that same process of shopping for what you want.

It also begs the question: Is it easier for you to change your mind or for you to change the customer’s mind? That’s easy: You only have to change your mind once.

So what is it, exactly, that customers want and how can you better tailor your solution to their needs? It’s an important question… one that needs a clear answer. Which is why ATRA recently conducted another survey of consumers to discover their thoughts and views related to transmission repair. The results may surprise you: We’ll be sharing those results at this year’s ATRA Powertrain Expo in Las Vegas.

We’ve also surveyed shops across the country so we can get a better feel for what successful shops are doing, and compare it to how shops have adjusted their business model since the beginning of the What’s Working program. It’s sure be a great session and we look forward to seeing you there and getting your input on our results.

Now this doesn’t mean that you need (or should) compromise on your quality or be the cheapest shop in town just to keep a customer. It just means there’s more to meeting the needs of today’s customer than you may realize.

It may just be a matter of reevaluating what you think is important to customers, and redesigning your business model around what they’re really looking for. Sounds complicated, but those differences could be as simple as who has the cleanest restrooms!

One last thought: If you’ve ever changed your mind, then you’ve just admitted that at one point in your thought process you were wrong. That’s the first step in learning something new. See you at the show!