Even the speed of change is changing!

Aug. 16, 2010

Achieving excellence is a process. A process is an act of moving forward, requiring many changes.

Achieving excellence is a process requiring change, and change is happening at a phenomenal pace; therefore, it stands to reason that achieving excellence is going to require constant effort, extra effort, and fast results. Change is more demanding than ever. Change is unceasing and relentless.

The world is changing, technology is changing, even the speed of change is changing. As a result, we as an industry must crank up the effort and demonstrate an unwavering commitment to change. We must engage change at every opportunity. Our staff must improve, our services must improve, our customer skills must improve, and we must improve. We must have a mind set that focuses on change as something to be embraced and integrated into our operations.


We must set reasonable, measurable goals in adapting to change.

We must achieve real results in a hurry.

We must not wait for change to force itself upon us.

I know tire dealers who cannot send nor receive an e-mail. They are tech-adverse, and are on a very slippery slope. They prefer to talk about when the business was easier and less complicated. They deceive themselves. Things are going to get very complicated for them really soon. The world is going digital and to attempt to ignore this fact will be disastrous.

Moving in new directions

This month I’d like to frame my comments on counter intelligence with an example from outside our industry.

I like to read about companies and businesses that take new approaches, new directions to improve their products and/or services. This results in greater customer satisfaction, which leads to more customers, more sales, and more profits.

While I was waiting at the car wash last weekend I read an article about “The Invincible Apple.” You know, Apple Computer, the computer maker, and the world’s largest music provider, the company that makes the hottest-selling smart phone, and now a thing called the iPad. In 1997 Apple was broke and received $150 million from Microsoft to stay in business. Well, today Apple has changed, reinvented itself, and is the world’s leading tech company. For Apple to remain a recognized leader it had to create change and master change.


Our industry is changing at a phenomenal rate as well. We are going to see more change more quickly than ever before. For us to remain or pursue excellence we must remember that counter intelligence is a combination of “high-tech” and “high-touch.” Counter intelligence is more than a fast, friendly greeting, professional phone answering skills, or effective listening skills. We must connect all the dots.

We must properly service the customer’s vehicle. Where is the real value if we greet the customer in a friendly manner but don’t fix his car?

Recently I read an online article. In the article an automotive industry leader remarked that we are on the verge of “Automobile 2.0.”

We are not talking about MacPherson struts, disc brakes, or tire pressure monitoring systems.

We’re going to experience significant/radical changes in service and functionality in the automobile, and this will translate into rapid change in the aftermarket.

My dad used to tell me to, “Work smarter, not harder.” Well, Harvey Williams was right. But in this case we are going to have to work smarter and harder.

Electronics and on-board computers are radically changing the automobile, as predicted by Alan Mulally, CEO of the Ford Motor Co. Several years ago at the Computer Show in Las Vegas, Mulally made a reference that electronics were going to play a huge role in the design, function and ability to meet government-mandated regulations. Ford has subsequently introduced the sync voice activation package, which allows for hands-free phone usage, among many other features.

Recently in an interview with “All Things Digital,” Mulally commented that the electronics business is experiencing change at an incredible pace, and that the modern vehicle is right behind. The pace is slightly slower to market, as developmental time for car development is slower than consumer electronics. His point was that digital changes are coming to the auto industry more quickly. We are now seeing the changes, and much more is on the way. I believe that when it hits — this electronic automotive revolution — it’s going to hit with a vengeance.


Dealing with more, more, more

To add to the complexity, unlike when disc brakes or MacPherson struts were introduced, and the Big Three — GM, Ford, and Chrysler — enjoyed a much greater market share, there now are more types of vehicles, more vehicle manufacturers, more government regulations, and more demanding customers. There is no doubt that this trend is going to continue, and accelerate. This change represents the greatest opportunity for those who get it and prepare for it.

Those who connect the dots, those who prepare for change, and those who determine their niche will succeed and capture the market share, and enjoy the sales and profits that are necessary for a sustainable aftermarket tire and service business.

Those who try to be too many things for too many customers will likely be swallowed up by the unrelenting speed, pressure and unforgiving characteristics of change.

Remember this: Even the speed of change is changing; it’s not slowing down. Therefore, as an industry, you as a business owner, you and I as participants in this industry do not have the luxury to ponder these points. We must determine our roles, set our goals, and strive for excellence amidst rapidly changing conditions.

Lastly, remember, achieving excellence is a process. A process is an act of moving forward, requiring many changes! We are all going to have to work smarter and harder! If we focus on the goal and pursue incremental change, then we’ll make progress and, like Apple, enjoy continued success.

Until next month, when we take a look at how our fast changing digital world is affecting counter intelligence!    ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected].