Know The Customer That You Don’t Have!

There are two categories of customers, those you have and those you want to have.  You may very well know your current customers, but in your role as a businessperson it is much more important that you “know” the customers in your target market that you do not have, but you want to have. In order to achieve your long-term wealth creation goals you, the businessperson, will need to 1) study the customer at the “big picture” level, i.e. at the industry level, rather than just at your level, 2) use “hard evidence” to form the big picture to develop knowledge of your potential customers, and 3) use that knowledge to either design your business model or modify your current business model to ensure that you are meeting the potential customers’ wants in terms of their overall experience, better than your competitors.

In the PDR industry the overall experience has not really been consciously designed. Though, more recently there has been a lot of lip-service given to customer centeredness, but, come on, usually this translates to, be nice to the customers so they will refer others (not unimportant, but not a game changer). The reality is that the product experience remains production process driven and the purchase experience being heavily driven the third party payers.  By the way, by not knowing your potential customers’ wants for their product experience and the purchase experience “, you contribute to your own victimization by the third party payers.

But the times, they are changin’.  Achieving your long-term business goals in the PDR Industry into the future is going to require a lot of change in how you do business.  Starting with innovating and design a business model based, among other things, your target market’s expectations for their PDR repair product experience and purchase experience. Which means you, the businessperson, must develop and keep current an in-depth understanding of what the potential customer seeks in their product experience and in their purchase experience. Then effectively use that knowledge to design a business model that fulfills their product experience and purchase experience better than your competitors. 

So how do you achieve this understanding?  It comes from market analysis and research.  So, I would start with determining who out there in the big world is collecting data from PDR repair customers and determine what you can get access to.  I have looked and have to say there is not much that I have found to be useful, but it is always good to start there anyway.  Next, identify your target market and its geographical boundaries; think big here and into the future.

PDR Mobile….It Keeps You Pushin’

Going For The Gold

My wife and I have been watching the Olympics and the thing that strikes me is the dedication athletes from around the world give to “Going for the Gold”.  As a businessperson, you also need to be dedicated to “Going for the Gold”, your gold medal is the long-term wealth you will have created at the end of the race.

goldI think at the core there are two characteristics that define the difference between the Olympian and the wanna-be-olympian; 1) willingness to seek, to listen to, and to use critical feedback and 2) persistence in practicing the skill sets based on the critical feedback until they have it mastered.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions of critical is “inclined to criticize severely and unfavorably” and another is “exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation <critical thinking>  So for me, critical feedback is data you receive that provides you with the opportunity to make careful judgment and a judicious evaluation of your performance of a skill or skill set, which you can choose to use to determine if you need to modify your performance in order to achieve your goal. To consistently improve the Olympian accepts the need to get unfavorable criticism and to be able to move past the “bad feelings” they get when they hear it and make the necessary changes to fix what needs to be fixed.  The wanna-be-olympian basically does not want to hear critical feedback, because they choose not to move past those “bad feelings”.  In effect they delude themselves into thinking they are performing the skill or skill set at the competitive level and do not need to make any changes.

Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas, and all of the rest of the Olympians have spent thousands of hours watching replays of their performances to see how they needed to change to be better, watching their competitors’ performances and thousands of more hours listening to their coaches tell them what they are doing wrong and how to change to do it better, and then spending hour upon hour of practicing that skill set incorporating those changes identified in the critical feedback in order to achieve perfection.  This is what it takes to “Go For the Gold”.

Just like athletes, business people are usually dedicated, focused, and determined to achieve their goals, the question is a particular athlete an Olympian or a wanna-be-olympian?  The same question holds for you as a businessperson, are you an Olympian or a wanna-be-olympian?  If you are going for the gold, creation of long-term wealth, like the Olympian you need to have a strong;  1) willingness to seek, to listen to, and to use critical feedback and 2) persistence in practicing the skill sets based on the critical feedback until they have it mastered.

For those of you who truly seek to “Go For the Gold”, and I hope you all do, the first thing you have to do is to stop deluding yourself that you are doing your best at the skills of being a businessperson, none of us are. But here is what you can start doing to strive to really perfect your businessperson skill set:

Step 1: Identify what you perceive is your strongest businessperson skill, Step 2: Video tape yourself performing that skill, Step 3: Watch the video 3 times, the first time just watch it, the second time identify what you could have done better, and the third time, when the video comes to one of those micro-skills that you need to “fix” stop the video and figure out why you chose to do what you did rather what you have been a better way to perform that micro-skill.

Then practice-feedback, practice-feedback, practice-feedback until you have the skill set down cold.

PDR Mobile…It Keeps You Pushn’

The Best Kept Secret of Differentiation

By Dan Herman

A successful differentiation is not imitated by your competitors, even though it brings you unmistakable success with consumers. It seems impossible? Not quite so. I am about to reveal to you the unexpectedly simple and wonderful secret of successful differentiation: you must think beyond the core benefits of your product category. Think: Off-Core Differentiation.

“Core Benefits” are the benefits that the consumer already expects to receive from a product like yours. This is the list of “what’s important to the consumer” in your product or service category. “Core Benefits” are more than the essential product benefits. The core benefits of today’s cellular phones include much more than the possibility of conducting a conversation while you’re in motion. Everything that the consumer has already come to expect from the product is included in the core benefits. These are the benefits that all of your competitors offer, because they compose the essence of the product and it is impossible to compete in the market without them.

That is precisely the reason why if you really invest your efforts and are truly brilliant and make a major break-through in improving core benefits – do you know what will happen? They’ll imitate you as fast as possible. That’s what will happen. You must understand: in that case, your competitors can’t allow themselves not to imitate you. You’d do exactly the same thing.

Many companies have learned this the hard way. Volvo, for example, created its brand around a central core benefit: safety. They did everything humanly possible! They invested limitlessly! And they succeeded! They especially succeeded in convincing their competitors that it is very important to invest in safety. Today, no one will tell you (except for a few out-of-date marketers) that safety is Volvo’s differentiation.

In order to create a differentiation that won’t be imitated, you have to think beyond the core benefits that are (already or even just in potential) considered important in your market. Think about “what’s important to the consumer” in other product or service categories that you can be the first (or better yet: the only) one to supply in yours. It works time after time. The companies that have succeeded in maintaining their differentiation over the years and weren’t imitated even though they were making tremendous profits are those that innovated in qualities beyond the core benefits of their market. The farther you look, the more successful you can become.

What are they waiting for?

Let’s look at some examples of off-core differentiation.

Swatch decided to treat the watch face and band as a design area. What does this have to do with the core benefit of a watch? Exactly! So no one has imitated them. Not really.

Grey Goose vodka is the only vodka produced in France. This differentiation is so way-out of the core benefits of the vodka industry! No vodka connoisseur in his right mind would imitate that.

What about The Body Shop? There’s no place for another cosmetics chain that actively fights against animal experiments, for the environment and for the needy wherever they are. No one even thinks about imitating them.

The mob and the mobile

Sometimes an off-core differentiation can become eventually a core benefit. This happened to Nokia. It happens when the differentiation is not really off-core but is actually based on a deep insight into the direction that the market is going and of consumers’ future needs. Nokia took the global market with a seemingly off-core strategy. While Motorola was busy developing better and better mobile phones, Nokia predicted that mobile phones were going to be a popular product. When people will start carrying their cellphone around with them as they go about their everyday life, it will become an apparel item, a fashion statement. And thus the idea that helped turn Nokia into the world leader was born – the idea of the exchangeable panels that let you match the phone to your clothes. It didn’t seem like a core benefit of the category back then. Totally not connected to what a mobile phone is supposed to do.

But when the technology of most mobile phone manufacturers became similar, they began to compete over design. Samsung, Sony Ericsson and yes, even Motorola, started to beat Nokia, using its own weapon. As I am writing, Nokia’s share of the market is still double that of Motorola’s (do you realize what a lead Nokia was able to open?). But Nokia has lost its differentiation.

You may say that only a few companies have become leaders by means of an off-core differentiation. Let’s not argue what is “many” and what is “a few”. By the way, most companies never become leaders, nor need they become. However, if you are in a competitive market and trying to make a living, an off-core strategy is the best chance you have to give a group of consumers a good reason to devotedly prefer you and even create a private monopoly for you.

Open a window

I’m not trying to argue that differentiation within the core benefits is a bad idea, if you can do it. It opens a window of opportunity for you, until they start to imitate you. For a man like Michael Dell, that was enough to become a billionaire. Dell changed the way in which personal computers are sold. Michael Dell understood that from the moment that personal computers became standardized (thanks to the IBM clones on the one hand and to the foresight of Microsoft in the 1980’s, on the other hand) – people would buy them over the phone and later, over the internet. Dell also understood that since personal computer components are standardized anyway, you can put them together to suit each user’s needs. That wasn’t an Off-Core Differentiation. Dell simply saw where the trends are leading to. Today, everyone sells computers this way, but the period of time in which he had this shining differentiation made him one of the richest people on the planet.

PDR Mobile…It Keeps You Pushin’

Looking Without Seeing

In my quest to get my garage/shop organized I am constantly moving things around.  I have three corded drills that I do not use that much, cordless drills are so much more convenient, and as part of my mission to organize, several months ago, I put them in a container so that they would be away and easily found when needed.  I bet I have searched my garage, storage area, and the back patio where I have the overflow, oh 5 or 6 times looking for those corded drills. I mean I searched, looking in every nook and cranny, every box or storage container, and those unlikely places using a flashlight, nothing.  This morning I again did a search to no avail, but I thought ok I will look one more time in the storage area and walk in the door and there in plain sight sitting on a shelf at eye level are the drills. I must have walked by those drills 20 to 30 times.  They are in a container, alright, but it is an open container and I was looking for a closed container.

When you stop chuckling, note that this is normal, we all do it, in fact our brain is hardwired to do this in the name of efficiency, if we actually processed (thought) about every piece of sensory information that we continually take in we would literally melt down.  So our brain filters, in effect we only readily see, hear, feel, taste, and smell what we expect, which greatly reduces the brain’s processing load.

I call this dad’s-vacation-road-trip thinking, i.e. no side trips or unnecessary stops, the shortest distPicture1ance between two points is a straight line, the goal being to get there with the highest level of time efficiency possible.  Dad’s-vacation-road-trip thinking may work for your family vacation (at least for dad), but when you are fulfilling the businessperson function it is very risky.

The primary responsibility of the businessperson function is to “see” those opportunities that will enhance your ability to achieve your long-term wealth creation goals and to “see” those threats (obstacles) to your achieving your long-term wealth creation goals. But if you are using dad’s-vacation-road-trip thinking you stand a good chance of “not seeing” either the opportunities or the threats, until it is too late.

In other words, as a businessperson, you have to consciously override your brain’s efficiency protocol to in order for you to “see” what you might have otherwise missed in the big picture. In fulfilling the businessperson function it is critical that you hone your “seeing” skills to be able to accurately observe the big picture. Unfortunately, most of our schooling and experience has focused on dealing with the small picture (detail) thus, as Sherlock Holmes told Watson in “A Scandal in Bohemia”, “You (We) see, but you (We) do not observe.”

So in my quest to find my drill, what might I have done to override my dad’s-vacation-road-trip thinking?  There are two things I could have tried; first I could have consciously decided to stop and observe, to “see” all of the possible places the drill could be hiding, rather than just relying on (being fixated) my preconceived notion of how I had stored it, secondly I could have asked my son to look for it, to get a new “set of eyes” on the situation.  Both of these are viable options for you as a businessperson, it is up to you to use them to your benefit.

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” John Lubbock

PDR Mobile…It Keep You Pushin’

How To Read People

It is not only FBI profilers that read people – you have to read people in order to figure out how to get from thePicture1m what you want and the better you are at it, the more likely will you be able to achieve your business goals. As a businessperson you have to read, customers, employees, potential employees, vendors, lenders, investors, etc. in order for you to figure out how to get them to choose behaviors consistent with achieving your business goals. So what is the secret to reading people?

We form an opinion about people we meet in the first 3 or 4 seconds of interaction with them, much, if not all, of this initial reading of a person is based on their physical presentation and body language, the rest on the first words out of their mouths.  In this time period we are assessing the person in terms of 1) threat level, 2) power hierarchy, 3) compatibility factor, and 4) malleability factor.  After we have the first impression we then, albeit mostly unconsciously, decide on how we will go about getting this person to choose behaviors that are consistent with our achieving our desires.

But do not forget and you should always be aware of is the fact that the person you are reading is also reading you and for the same reason, to figure out how they can get you to choose behaviors consistent with achieving their desires.

The other thing to remember is that we humans are complex critters; we do not just have one story, in fact we are like a section in the library with multiple books (stories) to be read.  The section of library is determined by our core identity which provides a template for every role we use in our lives.  The specific book you will be reading is determined by the role the person you are reading is enacting at that time. A role, in this context, is like a set of policies and procedures that a person has developed to guide their behavioral and attitudes choices in a specific area of their life. When you read a person you will need to do so based on the role they are using for a particular situation. Think about all of the roles you have, which may include being a spouse, a parent, a friend, a businessperson, manager, a customer and so on, for each of these you will have a set of policies and procedures unique to you, but to some degree shared by society in general.  And, for each role your story to be read has a different genre. Therefore to be accurate in your reading of person, means knowing the section of library and which book from that person’s library section (role) you are reading.

There are four ways to enhance our ability to read people:

  1. Have a real theory of human behavior,
  2. Improve your listening and observation skills,
  3. Use empathic thinking, and
  4. Use inductive reasoning.

PDR Mobile…It Keep You Pushin’

Pro Plan Update

In the spirit of our commitment to be a super value added partner, we are committed to FREE updates for all plan level feature releases. That is a promise. Not to mention, we will never the raise the price of any of our subscription plans. With that said, below is a list of our most recent Pro Level app update:

  • Full-vehicle price estimating: Super-fast way to write single price estimate
  • Additional vehicle colors: Added additional colors to the drop down menu
  • Official iPad/Tablet support: Download the app on your ipad or tablet with no additional cost
  • Support for company logo on PDFs: Customize your documents with a company logo
  • “Antenna” added to roof parts: Additional R&I and REPL part types added
  • Vehicle stock# added on PDFs: Stock number displays on your documents
  • Insurance info added to estimate: Easy to process insurance claims
  • Option to include/exclude photos on PDFs

Please note:
Some of these changes may require you to logout and log back into the app to take effect.

PDR Mobile – It Keeps You Pushin’

I Don’t Need No Stinkin Plan..

Yeah, you do.  Granted, it does not need to be a formal written document, but there is overwhelming evidence that having a plan increases the odds of achieving business success.  As we are all well aware of, striving for business success in the auto collision repair industry is difficult. So why make it even more difficult by not having a plan for your business success?  Your plan can be in your head or you can put it on paper, the real point is that you have done real planning.  As former president Dwight Eisenhower said, “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Planning has two primary benefits, first it forces you to think ahead (being proactive), rather than rPicture1esponding to things as they arise (being reactive), and secondly, and this is where a written plan comes in handy, it helps to keep you on track.  “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Alan Lakein

Success in business is driven by proactivity; while being reactive often means that you are like the ball in a pin-ball game, bouncing from one thing to another, having no control over your own destiny.  But to be proactive means you have to do your homework and in my experience this is why we humans are really not very good at planning, we are most often not willing to make the necessary investment of effort and time to do the homework.  It is easier to react to events and use our intuition to make decisions about what to do on the spur of the moment. “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” Alan Lakein

Planning means that you have defined a specific goal to be achieved (long-term wealth creation goal), that you have identified the obstacles to achieving that goal, and the possible ways to overcome those barriers. Thus, if you use the “murder board” technique you can put your goal in the center, post the barriers to achieving that goal, and identify those ways to overcome the barriers.

Yes, this will take time and effort, but the investment is small compared to the long-term return on that investment.   “Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.” Alan Lakein

PDR Mobile…It Keep You Pushin’