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Mastermind Advice: Crystal Ball or Mirror

Looking into the future of next year won’t take fortune telling, it just takes a good look in the mirror. The industry’s consultant masterminds encourage you to take charge of 2017 and think differently to achieve your goals.

Have you looked in the mirror lately? What is your management/communication/ownership style? At a recent Mastermind Session in New Hampshire, I handed out travel mirrors to all the owners and told them that their company is a mirror image of them; the good, bad, and the ugly!

By Paul D’Adamo, Recycling Growth
Do you agree? Are you shocked? The boss is tactical like a traffic cop, coordinating work flow and making decisions to ensure success. The owner should be more strategic, with an eye to the future. It is easy to take credit when everything is going well. That is the danger zone my friends. When business slows down, it is too easy to cast a wide net of doubt on our teams and not on the direction, communication, and decision making of our company. We, as owners, can become the obstacles since it is difficult to be critical of our own management/communication style.

As owner, you must ask yourself the following question: Do I give my employees the responsibility and authority to make decisions? If I asked your employees “Who’s the boss,” would they give me the same answer as you. Maybe it is the owner? Maybe it is the site manager or general manager? Maybe it is the delivery driver who has been there for 30 years … he knows everything.

We need to manage our business differently as our company matures. When a company is in start-up mode, you can bet most owners are in the trenches with their employees calling the shots to make payroll on Friday. But as your company grows and becomes more structured, owners must put people in place to manage departments and be willing to evaluate the decision-making process and transition to “coaching” mode to develop the best business on the planet.

Whether you are a six-person or 100-person operation, you must learn to:
1. Focus on ownership tasks
2. Coach and mentor your team
3. Back up your team – don’t meddle
4. Hold them accountable to goals/expectations
5. Celebrate the small victories
6. Periodically evaluate you and your organization
7. Repeat cycle …

And if you are adventurous, walk through your business some day and ask your employees … “Who’s the boss?”

Paul D’Adamo has been in the auto recycling business for 27 years. He and wife Lynn are the owners of Recycling Growth, a consulting, coaching, and training company that serves the auto recycling industry. Former owners of Bill’s Auto Parts in Cumberland, RI, they sold their award-winning business in 2013. Contact paul@recyclinggrowth.com or (401) 458-9080.

The Number One Thing
By Chad Counts, Robert Counts andJohnny Logel, Counts Business Consulting

The number one thing an auto recycler needs to know in 2017 is how to capitalize on as many sales opportunities as we can. In other words, make the sale!

In this industry about 70 percent of in-stock calls end in failure. The best salespeople succeed at least 50 percent of the time with in-stock sales opportunities. This is a 20 percent difference in close rate and has a tremendous impact. Why do we fail to achieve this close rate?

For many reasons. We don’t qualify the customer. We don’t ask for the sale. We don’t always even offer a part. For a wide number of sales staffs, there is a lack of professionalism. Most sales staffs in any industry train on scripts, set goals, and seek outside training.

Listening to recorded phone calls reveals this very quickly. No two calls follow the same path to a successful conclusion. A problem part or difficult customer is all it takes most times for the salespeople to lose their rhythm. How long do we go as a team or company before we realize a salesperson is off their game? A day, a week, a month, a quarter?

There is tremendous value available to any company that can unlock the potential of their sales staff. The time and energy it takes to do this right is costly. But, is it more costly than your missing sales?
We are seeing recyclers that are averaging an in-stock closing rate of 20-25 percent when this should be 40-50 percent; our brokered closing percentages are worse sitting around 5-10 percent, they should be at least 2 percent. Making these changes costs us nothing extra with the upside of more money in the bank and more buying power at the auction.

A key factor to closing more often is adding value to the product. You can do that by asking questions like:
• Have you been priced yet?
• How much were you priced?
• How many miles on your vehicle?
• What warranty were you offered?

By asking these questions you get an understanding of what our customer wants or has been told. We then start to add value based on our customers wants instead of just giving them a price and assuming that’s the part they want.

Counts Business Consulting provides sales management services to the automotive recycling industry. Whether it is training your salespeople or training your sales manager we have the experience and expertise to increase your company’s sales performance. Contact Chad Counts at 512-963-4626, crcounts@countsbusinessconsulting.com or Robert Counts at 512-653-6915, Robert@
countsbusinessconsulting.com or visit www.countsbusinessconsulting.com.

Strength & Weakness
By Andy Latham, Salvage Wire

Great leaders know their strengths and concentrate their effort in that area rather than trying to do everything.

Motivational speaker and writer John C. Maxwell explains this as the 70/25/5 principle – focus on your strengths 70 percent of the time, spend 25 percent of your time on areas that need to be improved, and 5 percent to areas of weakness.

One of the best entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson, was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young man yet he has been very successful as a business owner, leader, manager, and as a husband and father.

Why? He concentrated on what he was best at and got trusted aides to help in his areas of weakness.

He is excellent with ideas and relationships. He is an innovator, knows the value of a brand, a leader and one who learns from mistakes and setbacks.

The year 2017 will be as good as the effort put in to make it successful, and knowing strengths and weaknesses are an important key to this success. Working hard at a task you do not enjoy or find difficult is the surest way to demotivate and demoralize you. Working hard on something you love doing will energize you, so follow the 70/25/5 rule.

Work out where your strengths lie, what you would like to improve upon and where your weaknesses are, and then plan.

Plan to bring a trusted colleague alongside you has strengths in areas where you are weak, who can take those weaknesses and transform them into their strengths. Plan training and development on those areas that you would like to improve and … the rest of your time will take care of itself because you will be working in your strength.

Don’t let 2017 be another year of frustration, hardship and struggle. Make it a year of development, growth, reaching targets, achievement and satisfaction – play to your strengths 70 percent of the time, improve 25 percent of the time and only give 5 percent of your time to areas where you are weak.

Andy Latham is Managing Director of Salvage Wire, a unique Auto Recycling consultancy with a focus on Safety, Ethics, and Profitability for all clients. With over 30 years of experience in the automotive industry, Andy shares his knowledge, experience, and wisdom garnered as an engineer, manager, and leader. For more details of Salvage Wire Training please contact Andy Latham on andy@salvagewire.com, or visit www.salvagewire.com.

Tips for Being Productive in 2017
By Mary McDonald,
The McDonald Consulting Group

With the presidential elections in the United States, the turbulent weather (hurricanes and twisters, worldwide coverage of the damage to the Caribbean and eastern U.S. seaboard, and earthquakes) on the rise globally, and senseless killings that seem to be escalating, it’s sometimes difficult for me to keep focused on the tasks at hand. Is it really more important that I proof-read a sales order for accuracy than to get involved in minimizing climate change? Shouldn’t I be activating for human and civil rights instead of activating for better understanding of changes to my process? Why is it difficult to stay focused on what needs to be done?

The truth probably lies somewhere between “ignore everything and work with laser focus” and “abandon everything and just work on your passion.” We all know that there has been strife in the world forever – at least since we have recorded word – and there will unfortunately be tragedy as long as the world turns. And for most of us, we do have to work to make a living.

Yes, we can do something, we can make a difference, whether it be at the local level or on a larger stage; however, we also have a responsibility to use our talents wisely, which may include earning a living and providing for a family.

So how do we stay focused during upheaval?

Tips to Improve Concentration

Here are a few ways that I’ve found helpful:

1. Act where you can. You may not be able to solve the world’s hunger problem, but you can volunteer at the local food pantry, give healthy snacks to the homeless at intersections, and donate to worthy causes worldwide. Stay focused on what you can impact, what you can change. Where can you make a difference? Is it sponsoring the local kids’ ball team, or helping a family in sudden need? Do something that allows you to help (time, resources, funds) and embrace it.

2. Stop beating your head against a wall. You can’t change people’s minds. Politics comes to mind here. “I’m going to change my vote based on a Facebook meme,” said no one ever. Choose not to engage in a battle where the other side is equally entrenched in their beliefs. It reminds me of the story about wrestling with a pig – you both get dirty, but you realize that the pig is enjoying it! So take a step back and focus on places you can agree. Build bridges, not barbed wire fences.

3. Understand what you can, and cannot, affect. I can spend all day tracking the hurricane – but it’s not going to change course no matter how often I check its path. So instead, make some progress on something that you CAN control, like cleaning your desk or house, or getting some work done, or even preparing for extreme weather.

4. Work your to-do list. Get distracted with something that needs to be done, like your to-do list. Write down things that need to be done as you think of them, and then start working on them. One of my favorite techniques is the Pomodoro technique. – work on your to-do list without interruption – laser focus – for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. Do this as many times as you can during the day. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish during these bursts of focus! (Hint: that’s how this article was written!)

Laser Focus vs. Big Focus

Yes, we all should be aware of what’s going on outside our four walls. Yes, we can make a difference – no matter how small or large – by contributing outside (and inside) our industry. However, when the weight of this seems to become all-encompassing; when you feel as though you can’t concentrate on anything else, when it becomes distracting to what you are doing at work – step back. Assess what needs to be done. Assess where you should be spending your time, and focus in using the Pomodoro technique to knock out some deliverables, make progress on some to-do list actions, and complete some chores.

Although life often intrudes on our concentration, by keeping these tips in mind, you will complete more and feel better about everything at the end of the day – a sense of accomplishment is never a bad thing!

Mary McDonald is the CEO/CTO of The McDonald Consulting Group since 1995, working to help clients improve processes to positively affect the bottom line. She is a Certified Quality Auditor and a RABQSA Certified Lead Auditor in several standards, as well as an author and speaker on systems integration and strategic business planning.

Get More Business You Already Have
By Jon O’Malley, Business Coach

The auto recycling world is one in which some players are still winning. There’s a lot of “b-ing and moaning” out there in this industry right now, but there are still companies out there doing well and making money. But they’ve modified their focus to be sure they’re going after the right things now. There’s always opportunity in business if you keep open to reacting to the changing environments.

One area that’s still possible to make good money in is used parts. Something to consider: this is a high volume business. Many of your might be trying to figure out how to get more people calling. I’d argue that many of you already have enough people calling, you just need to sell more to those already calling you. What if you had an 8 percent increase in the average dollar amount on your used parts every month? That would normally add 8 percent to your bottom line. That’s a good bump for most companies.

Your question should now be: Okay smarty, how do we increase our average sales amount by 8 percent? Well, how are you incentivizing your sales people? If it’s not at least partially based on their overall average sales amount(don’t do it only on this or they’ll stop trying to make the $5-$30 sales knowing they’ll bring down their average), there’s something for you to implement. Do you offer cash spiffs? I recommend using brand new, crisp $100 bills for the winner of this or that sales category (be sure to pay all the appropriate taxes, of course). Rich and poor alike, everyone gets a thrill from a $100 bill. And the other reps will get jealous when they don’t get it. It drives competition and will help everyone up their game. Or offer a monthly reward of some other sort. But get them focusing on adding on little things to each sale to get their average up. They don’t normally need fluids, accessories, etc. that go along with what they’re buying. And often they don’t think to buy them from you so they buy them down the street! Every extra dollar of gross profit helps, and you’ll be amazed how fast 5, 10, even 15 percent average increases can happen!

Remember, there are only three ways to grow your business: get more customers, increase your average sales amount, or increase the number of times they transact with you. Focus on implementing strategies around these areas and you’ll do well in all economies!

Jon O’Malley is a Business Advisor who works with small business owners to grow their profits, build better and more productive teams, and more systematic companies. He’s helped hundreds of companies over a decade in the industry and has helped many become millionaires. He and his wife have also adopted six kids from Ethiopia and have two biologically, so there’s never a dull day for him, which is just the way he like it.