December '18

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76 THE SHOP DECEMBER 2018 In my experience it works best if you narrow your focus to just one or two new products or services. Don't try to introduce a dozen at once—it usually doesn't work because you aren't doing each new product or service justice by giving them the time and attention needed to make each one successful. Be picky and prioritize. Relationships Networking at shows can be just as valuable as gaining education and finding products. Only by surrounding yourself with the knowledge of others can you grow your own knowledge. So, make sure you take time to network at events. Talk to manufacturer's reps. Find peers that are going through the same things you are and take the time to talk to them. After the show is over, take a few moments to sift through the business cards you gathered and reach out to keep the relationships going. Even if it is just an email saying hello or thanks, that can lead to further discussions and an opportunity for collaboration or consultation someday when you need it. BACK HOME Leaving the trade show and heading back home with the best intentions of growing your business isn't enough. You now need to create a plan to make those changes a reality. Again, the steps may seem obvious, but they are important. Taking a simple approach and doing just a little bit at a time can keep things from becoming overwhelming. Here's how I handle my post-show process: Make a decision based on knowledge. After you have thought about an idea and know you want to move forward, decide what you need to do to get the idea up and running. Do you need more information? What's the next step if you're ready? Figure out what you need to know about the idea, the product or the service and then prepare to make it a reality. Set a goal. What would you like to accomplish and in what timeframe? If it's introducing a new product, then when do you want to bring it in and start marketing it? When do you want to offer it consistently enough for it to be featured on your website or social media? Set firm goals and then get started on the homework to make it happen. Set a deadline. We all work better with deadlines, but especially business owners! Our lives are deadlines—whether it's working with a demanding customer, finishing a project vehicle or doing payroll, there are always deadlines, and successful shops hit them consistently. Consider the goal you set above, and then set a deadline so you don't stray off course. We've all heard the old saying that Rome wasn't built in a day, and it's true. In fact, I don't think it was built in a month or even a year! So, patience is needed. Just begin the process and you will even- tually reap the benefits. Focus on just a few of the things you see at the show instead of overwhelming yourself and setting unreal- istic expectations. Even if you only partially implement one idea or product or service, you're still better off than before the show began. JOSH POULSON is the principal of Auto Additions in Columbus, O h i o , w h i c h wa s n a m e d Restyler of the Year, 2012-'13. Auto Additions offers a com- plete line of product upgrades, including 12-volt and appearance packages with a specific focus on the dealership seg- ment. Josh currently serves on the SEMA PRO council and was named 2015-'16 Person of the Year at the 2015 SEMA Show. Classes and seminars provide real-world information on running a better business. Attend those you believe might make a difference in your own company. Take the time to culti- vate relationships you make at trade events— many shop owners are facing the same challenges you are, and can offer opportunities for collaboration or consultation. Creating a Follow-Up Plan

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