The Best Question

In times when business is down, or when business is up; in fact, anytime is a great time to consistently ask the best question: What can I/we do to improve my/our business?

Have you ever heard the phrase, "you're either growing or your dying"? It is a really good phrase to remember. Here's the main reason it is good to remember: because it's true. I'll give you some examples.

Mervyns. It is dead. It has been dying for the last ten years. They just didn't know well enough to fall over until late last year. Circuit City. It's been dead for years. Now almost gone completely. The current economy was just the straw. Their lack of asking the best question every day is what killed them. They had an idea and just kept repeating it. Reminds me of the story of the 20-year veteran car salesman. I've known quite a few. He had one year experience repeated 20 times. Just doesn't know enough to fall over, but he's dead. The lack of the best question every day killed him. It kills them all.

I go to a certain place to have my oil changed, minor repairs and even some major repairs on all my vehicles. I've done business with them for well over 25 years. I love the people. If it weren't for the fact that their property is probably paid for and they keep their expenses low, they would already be gone, but they are absolutely dying. I had a meeting with one of the owners to discuss some things they could do to improve business because I don't want them to go out of business, but it falls on deaf ears. They don't want to know because they have one years experience repeated 30 times. Great ideas are all around them--indeed, even offered up in person and they pay no attention. Less and less repeat business, very little new business. Competition just sucking them dry. Why? They are standing still. It's not the competition, it's their complacency. Sad, don't you think?

I just heard of a Chevy dealership being sold off today. Know it well--used to know it rather. Dying and going to another contestant. It's been dying for a good while. Could have been a contender! At one time it was a market leader. So many ways to improve, so little time and so little interest. One year experience repeated again and again. This person owns two stores, and I'm sure the other is going the same way soon. Head in the sand. Old ideas repeated with less results. Running ads in the paper doesn't do it now and hasn't for a lot of years. What hope have they? Just one: Pull their head out and start asking the tough and best question: What can we do to improve our business? Start getting some fresh, talented people in on the answers to that question. That will change everything.

So, I can hear it now. . . what has this to do with me? I'm just a fleet/commercial manager--just one person, this doesn't help me. Wrong. The question still applies. How can you improve your business? What can you do differently that will make a positive difference? How can you get new customers? More important than that is, how can you keep the highest percentage of the customers you already have and to sell their relatives, friends, business associates--in fact, everyone they know? How can you work your business so that you never have to prospect again? What tools will you need? Who can help you brainstorm this topic? Who can you partner with? How can you expand your inventory without running up the costs? How can you close more sales? How can you take more time off and still improve your business? How can you have a whole lot more fun everyday and build a better business at the same time? How can you become a real leader in your market? How can you add so much value that your customers will never want to go anywhere else ever again? What can I do to improve my business?

Questions are the catalyst and the answers will change your world. So, what are your questions?

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