Counter intelligence: I love tigers!
As a kid, my dad had a nickname for me; he called me “Tiger.” It was just a nickname and didn’t mean anything in particular. But it was nice, and I especially liked to hear him say, “Come on, Tiger, get in the car.” I knew that meant we’d be off on some adventure.
My dad, Harvey Williams, was a man of action. He worked for General Motors for 42 years, starting on the assembly line and retiring as a plant manager.
Over the years, he also developed a nickname. His peers across the country referred to him as the “Big Cat,” probably because he had tiger tendencies. He was a strong, powerful innovator, always looking for quality improvements and cost savings, always ready to make something happen.
Tigers are the largest of the cat family, certain sub-species often weighing over 650 pounds. They are muscular, powerful and able to conceal themselves as they stalk their prey. They commonly feed on large animals, and they are not afraid to prey on other predators.
I met a man this week that I would categorize as a “tiger” as it pertains to business.
You know when you’re in the presence of a tiger, you can feel it; there is an energy, a feeling that something is going to happen at any moment.
This man thinks and moves like a tiger. He gets things done, and he has formulated a plan, a plan to sell more tires for the purpose of retaining customers while at the same time selling more alignments, brake services, etc.
The tiger in action
This dealer had been thinking about how to accomplish his goals and was open to my suggestions, so open that he welcomed both my ideas and criticism. He quickly pounced on a few of my ideas. He immediately was introducing me to key people in his location, his team.
He was ready to invest the time, money and effort to spring forward and take advantage of new opportunities. It’s refreshing to watch a tiger in action. I just knew that something was going to happen, and it did. Without hesitation, he marshaled his employees.
Clearly, calmly and with conviction, he outlined his immediate plan of action. His team responded so well, not begrudgingly or passively, but with genuine enthusiasm. This was a thing of beauty to watch.
With so much negativity floating around about the economy, and so many people operating in slow motion with that same-thing, different-day mentality, I was charged up myself. Here’s what he did, and what you can do:
• Create the want: His tiger attitude is contagious. He expressed his plan and gave all participants a vested interest in the success of the plan. Everyone has the opportunity for monetary gain.
• Connect the dots: Several departments would need to work in unison to accomplish the objectives; so he gathered the players and gained quick consensus, outlining the big plan once again.
• Commit the resources: During the communication of objectives, the need to spend some money on minor equipment upgrades was identified and the expenditure quickly approved, thereby solidifying the commitment to the desired result. Tigers move quickly and decisively because there is no time to waste. In today’s economy, it’s time to hunt it down and kill it; we all have to eat!
• Convenience, convenience, convenience: Our tiger reminded everyone that time is money and he expected cohesive execution that would lead to satisfied customers and the goal of customer retention. He stressed the importance of selling convenience over price, and the benefits of their location over possible less expensive prices elsewhere.
• Communication is 85% of everything: Training is very important. Increased tire sales are a matter of preparation and execution. The three most phone-shopped items are oil changes, batteries and tires. Do you know how your employees handle phone inquiries? Do they make negative comments such as, “We don’t have them, but we can get them”?
This type of response gives the customer the option to check elsewhere. A reply that assures the customer that you can have the car ready by 5 p.m. is much better. After all, does the customer care if you had to pull them off the shelf or order locally, as long as the vehicle is ready when promised?
• Comfort, comfort, comfort: A big part of what we sell every day is peace-of-mind — new, safe tires, repairs done correctly. Can the customers get more peace-of-mind down the street or around the corner at your competitor? If they can, then you need to make a concerted effort to ratchet up customer service.
As an example, I’m a Costco member, and when I go there I can see and sense that Costco customers feel special. There is an air of confidence with Costco members. They trust the company.
To compete, you also must be building your customers’ trust... always!
So my advice to you is be a tiger, make something happen!
It’s a jungle out there, so make sure your team is trained to pounce on opportunities when they come along. ■
Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. Williams can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.