Five Dealer Resolutions for 2017

Simple Goals Every Dealer Can Tackle in the New Year

A new year represents new opportunities. And every year, we make resolutions in our personal life to improve ourselves over the course of the year. They might be financial, mental, physical or even spiritual. 

If we do it for ourselves, why don't we do it for our business? As the year closes, we want to encourage our dealers to consider how everything you've learned over the past year can be used to strengthen your business even more in 2017, positioning you for growth over the next 12 months.

We've compiled a few of our favorite dealer resolutions, based on insights we've gleaned meeting with people across the industry:

  1. Resolve to Do It Now: 

    There's that change you've been wanting to make. The goal you've been wanting to meet. The problem you've been wanting to address. You keep telling yourself it can wait—that it's not as important as the more immediate things you simply have to address right now. The thing is, you were telling yourself the same thing last year. 

    Every dealer—every business, in fact—knows the best time to start solving a problem is yesterday, not today. So what steps can you take to make it happen? What are the immediate action items you can put on your list? Which to-do's can you start checking off first? If you don't start asking yourselves these questions now, you may find that you're asking them again next year.
  2. Resolve to Be a Resource: 

    As part of We Love Building, we've said again and again that it's the people who make the building industry so special, not just the finished result of our hard work. And believe it or not, the most important part of your business as a dealer isn't simply moving product, it's understanding your customers' needs and fostering that relationship so they consistently look to you for advice and support, no matter how the industry changes.

    What can you do to support your builder and remodeler customers? What value-add services do your customers need from you that they can't get anywhere else? What products are your customers looking for that you don't yet carry, and how quickly can that change? It's not enough to keep your ear to the ground, making an educated guess based off of a "sense" of your customers. You need to get out on the floor and in the field and talk to these people in-depth to understand their challenges and how you can help, asking pointed questions that will help you provide answers.
  3. Resolve to Train Often and Train Better:

    One constant in building is that what we knew to be true a few years ago is not necessarily true today. Your salespeople need to represent you and your business well, which means they need constant training about the latest products, trends, promotions, innovations, etc. As stated above, 2017 will be a year when builders and remodelers look to you more than ever for what they need to not only stay competitive, but to grow. That can't happen unless your people are capable of being the resource customers need.

    What can you do to give your team even more training information? Are there resources from distributors and manufacturers you aren't taking enough advantage of yet? What can you do to incentivize and motivate your team? Have you considered the different ways in which employees of different generations perform best, and how playing to their strengths may benefit you? Remember: if you want your customers to trust you, they have to trust your people, too. That starts with empowering your people with education and motivation. 
  4. Resolve to Embrace Something New: 

    It's the thing many dealers have been avoiding for years, but it's now staring them in the face: technology. Many of your customers are getting older, and the younger generations are starting to have buying power they never had before. This younger generation will one day become your core customer base, and you will need to speak to them in the way they have become accustomed to. That means you will have to get involved in new channels and new ways to market and sell your products. Social media, email and other digital tactics are finally going to become unavoidable. The good news is that implementing them is not nearly as difficult as some may imagine. 

    Many dealers are already seeing success by using some basic tools to more effectively convey information about products, announcements, promotions and events. Some are even taking advantage of social media sites like Pinterest to showcase exciting projects where their products can be used. With a very minor commitment in time and money, dealers can achieve huge ROI in establishing themselves as a resource for knowledge and a key business relationship to remember and stay loyal to.
  5. Resolve to Take a Risk: 

    In an industry with as many peaks and valleys as ours, it can be intimidating to do anything to rock the boat. This is especially true after the past few years, in which dealers, distributors, builders and virtually everyone in the housing industry had to make some tough decisions. But as the economy has stabilized itself significantly from where we were, many dealers (and others) are beginning to look for opportunities to grow. Risk is inherent to the proposition of doing something new, and risk, of course, is scary. But customers are seeking new services, your customers have new expectations of their dealer partners and R&R is presenting new areas for dealers to capitalize on. 

    Having learned from the recent economic downturn and recovery, what lessons can guide you before making any new and potentially intimidating decisions? Are there any small enhancements or additions you can make to your product lines or service offerings that could reap rewards while still constituting a reasonably "safe" risk? If you take on a business challenge by coming into the situation armed with facts and well-informed with research, that means you're playing it smart, not just safe.

Resolutions are tough, but worthwhile. And though most of us won't hit every resolution we set out to accomplish in 2017, it's important to focus on the ones we can achieve. In doing so, we may find opportunities for growth and success we didn't know were there.

Articles in Better Business, Forecast, Marketing, Sales | December 01, 2016