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"Post 2020: Where Do I Go From Here? A Panel Webinar for Dealers."

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Wow, what a year! Please join us November 17th at 1:00 EDT for this panel discussion on specific ways your dealership can benefit from best practices in 2020 and proven strategies for 2021. Our panelists include Sara Hey, VP of Business Development at Bob Clements International; Paige Wittman, Owner at Miller Wittman; and Trevor Allred, VP of Business Development at Kenect. They will address industry questions such as:

  • What have we learned in 2020? What should we expect in 2021?
  • How do I best address inventory management (supply and demand)?
  • Based on consumer behavior, what can I do to best retail and merchandise my space?
  • How do I best communicate with prospects and customers?
  • How do I maximize lead production, sales conversion, and revenue?
  • How do I maximize Service and Parts efficiency and capacity?

The panel will also respond to open questions from the dealer audience at the end.

To join us Tuesday, November 17th, 1:00 EDT, register now by clicking the below link.

Register Now

INTO THE WOODS NOW

I spent 10 years working in building materials, specifically in the window and door industry for Andersen Corporation. An industry most definitely affected by the housing crash and recession that started at the end of 2007. The effects of managing through a crisis is something we can all relate to now. We’re in the woods; and we may go deeper before the path to get out is clear enough to follow.

At Andersen during that time, CEO Jim Humphrey would say we (us and our competitors) are going into the woods now. It is a place we haven’t been before and some of us, but not all, will come out at the end of this. We will be different companies than when we went in. He was right. Some of the competitors didn’t come out of the woods at all. Andersen Corporation came out of those woods changed, but stronger for the experience.

Coming through the woods stronger wasn’t an accident. It took new strategies, pivoting to new markets, different selling skills, new relationships with customers and effort on top of effort. More than anything, it took a willingness to admit that everything was different and was never going to go back to what it had been.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the same experience as a recession, but companies, big and small, will come out of it differently.

This time, instead of being a corporate executive, I am a business owner. My business partner, Scott, and I own Miller Wittman Retail Design Group. The decisions, good and bad, are ours alone. Thus far, we think we have made a myriad of the right decisions on what actions are needed to continue to navigate the business’ future.

As business leaders grapple through the unpredictability of a global pandemic, a lot of questions and ambiguity is swirling around the future making difficult to stay focused.

Ask yourself:

What immediate actions should be taken right now to ensure my business can continue and thrive?

What decisions am I delaying that I should be dealing with right now?

What investments in my future should be taken right now? (This doesn’t have to be a financial investment; it could be time, effort, skill sets, etc.)

Our foundation or business charter was, and is, clear. We demand hard work from ourselves, and diversity among our clients, but still focus on industries related to our core strengths. In the past, we were primarily known as a store design house. Today, with our retail design work, distribution, sales and brand strategy, product launch capabilities and training, we’re able to work with our clients in more meaningful ways to connect all these disciplines so they work together. Our expertise and big-picture thinking helps to deepen client relationships and gain new clients in the process. For our part, we are constantly checking ourselves to maintain discipline, and thoughtful insight toward the market ahead.

As businesses approach the future, keep a steady dialogue going about business growth.

Ask yourself:

Have I developed the right adjacencies to grow my business or are we stagnating under the weight of current circumstances?

What are the right adjacencies or extensions of my business to help me grow?

This situation came on fast. The last time, I felt like we knew we were entering the woods, this time, we got dropped in the middle of the woods, like on the Discovery Channel’s, Naked and Afraid. It’s uncomfortable, unfamiliar and scary. Did I bring the right tools with me? Last time, I fought the battle in my office or in the field, surrounded by my co-workers. Today, I fight the battle at home, surrounded by my grade schoolers. The connections I have made out in the world help me every day and I am grateful that I have a strong network. However, without being out in the world, am I communicating enough? Is our website and lead generation doing as much as possible for us? We are taking the time now to ask ourselves these questions and do the work to update our tools.

Ask yourself:

Am I reaching out and communicating enough? Do we have a communication plan that works within these circumstances?

Is my online image or website compelling and descriptive of my business?

What can I update now that better reflects my business?

Can I be of assistance to anyone and provide needed solutions and skills they need right now?

Thankfully, we’ve been busy. I am grateful for our clients, and focused on giving them our best work. As a business owner, I can tell you, it is not just business. It is personal. And it’s not business as usual. I am thrilled because the planned diversity of our business has begun to take hold in meaningful ways. I am also deeply disappointed about the timing of these circumstances for the same reason. So, I have to remind myself not to wallow in what could have been, and instead remind myself that this is a time for what will be: new ideas, new priorities, new solutions.

For the future of our business and through this welcome work, we have to show discipline and use our knowledge and tools to continue asking ourselves;

What might be next for our business?

How are we prepared to be better for it?

How can I provide more value to the customers I already have?

Am I prospecting enough day after day?

What can I do today to come out of the woods stronger, smarter, mightier than when it all started?

Paige Wittman has been a key note speaker at numerous client sales and channel meetings as well as a featured writer for Rural Lifestyle Dealer and Dealer News

Paige is the co-owner of the Miller Wittman Retail Design Group, a company that builds strong distribution channels and captures dealer mindshare to grow the retail sales and footprint for their clients.

She has 25 years of sales, marketing and channel development experience; dedicating her career to developing winning sales teams, powerful distribution channels, and retail programs for leading brands. She started her career at Malone Advertising, an agency focused on retail. She then was recruited to The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company as an advertising manager, followed by Polaris Industries where, in her last role, was director of Retail & Dealer Development and on to Andersen Corporation where her roles included vice-president of Sales Operations and vice-president of Sales. In 2016, she joined the ranks of her favorite entrepreneurial customers and bought 50 percent of the now 25-year-old Miller Wittman Retail Design Group.

Paige Wittman, Co-owner MillerWittman

pwittman@millerwittman.com

low density Retail High Customer Involvement

Rural Lifestyle dealer Fix My Problem Paige Wittman posted april 3, 2020

Fix My Problem

Emerging from winter and preparing for the spring and summer seasons is a whole different ballgame this year. You have an advantage in that most of your stores are not high density, but high customer involvement. You can be a valuable resource in your community and naturally provide the social distancing necessary today.

There is a great unknown for all of us, but what is certain is that people are spending a lot of time at home. With much of the population spending the vast majority of their time in their houses, I think there is an opportunity to talk to your customers as the experts you are.

Right now, there are countless videos posted on YouTube or sent to the local news teams of people cleaning, organizing, doing yard work and home projects during the quarantine.

If you are so inclined, make a video showing what you have available to help customers with their projects and how you can safely make those products available to them. Email the video link to your customers with guidance regarding how you are conducting business now. As a person who is used to working from home, but now has 2nd and 5th grade kids with me during the day, I would appreciate some ideas of projects that I could do with my kids during breaks from my work and theirs that don’t involve making another craft. I would like to get real work done on the property and teach them skills.

Keep each video short and keep to an individual topic — 1-2 minutes is fine for a simple topic. You know what your customers have purchased and what they need. Talk to them about ideas you have.

If your store is open but you cannot have customers in your store, reach out via email or call your customers with their typical needs at this time of the year. People appreciate the touch and are interested in helping their local businesses succeed in challenging times. For example, you could arrange “contactless” pick up and drop off of equipment that needs to be serviced or new purchases. You could put together a number of packages that could be purchased or pre-paid services.

If your store is closed or has limited hours, take advantage of the time to get organized and do those disruptive projects that you usually don’t have time for. You will improve your store dramatically and be prepared for welcoming customers again. We are hearing from many family owned dealerships that they are doing the projects together and asking for plans from us that they can start now.

Declutter: It is time to purge all of the old literature, posters, service manuals and general clutter from the dealership. If you need to keep any of it for reference, create a specific area on a shelf in back. This will ensure that you and your employees have space to work and that your customers have space to shop.

Get Organized: This is an excellent time to tackle the part’s room project that is always on the back of your mind. If it isn’t that, you have another one in mind. This goes hand in hand with decluttering. Think about time and motion efficiency. How does your work flow? What makes sense for you and your employee’s roles and responsibilities?

Deep Clean: It is important to create a clean slate. Customers are more apt to trust that your dealership is clean if you deal with those challenging spots; woodwork, ceilings and corners to name a few. This is important all of the time, but in today’s environment, you have to have an effective, standardized cleaning regimen.

Lighting: This is an excellent time to replace those mismatched or burned out bulbs. While you are up there, clean the ceiling and the light fixtures. This is a typically ignored area, but makes a huge difference.

Do those disruptive projects, too.

Paint: This is an excellent time to patch and paint your walls. Keep it neutral and complementary to your dealership.

Floors: Your floors get a lot of tough use. This is a great time to clear the floor and deep clean, refinish or replace your floor. Clean, polished concrete is perfectly acceptable in this retail category. This is an excellent time to get that paint that is flaking and chipping off the floor.

I would be irresponsible if I didn’t mention COVID-19. Depending on what state or province you are in, you may be operating under different guidelines, so please understand and follow the guidelines governing your area before you act.

We know that customers will feel better about an environment that is clean and clutter free when they are welcomed back in your stores.

Grapevine Powersports

Grapevine Powersports

Miller Wittman congratulates Grapevine Powersports on their new facility. It was a pleasure working with Aaron and his team on the design of their new store. We wish them great success!

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Retail Showroom Remodels: When to Know it’s Time

By Paige Wittman posted on May 20, 2019

Do I need to expand the retail space in my dealership? That’s one of the first questions we hear when we work with dealers. You realize that a first-rate retail experience boosts the customer experience, sales and even loyalty. However, you’re not quite sure when, why and how to modify your own space. If you are talking to me or one of our designers, we interview you extensively about this.

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Tune in to Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s Dealer Success Academy for expanded comments from Ryan Dohrn, www.DealerSuccessAcademy. The summer issue of RLD will also launch a regular column from Dohrn. Watch for it and find new ways to improve your sales success.

A first step is to critically evaluate how you are using your existing space. For instance, what is occupying your showroom that is not generating revenue? Sales desks, customer seating and brochure holders may be necessary, but see about how you can unclutter them. For instance, family photos or stacks of files on desks shouldn’t block interactions with a customer.

Next, look at whether you have ample space to display “fast movers” like lubricants or accessories. Can you move out any non-revenue generating items to make room for these products and make it easier for customers to purchase them. Can you merchandise more effectively in the existing space?

Do you have the necessary space to display the current products for the lines you carry? Are you working closely enough with your manufacturers to understand what may be coming in the product pipeline so that you can prepare your space?

Are you thinking about carrying a new line or category? If you see opportunity for growth through line expansion, don’t let square footage block that opportunity. Start developing a facility plan along with the business plan to understand if this is the right opportunity for you.

Finally, what problems in your space are detracting from customer satisfaction or causing issues for your employees? How would you specifically fix those problems through an expansion?

Click here to read the full article on Rural Lifestyle Dealer and to let us know what your building changes you are planning.