The role of dealer groups is simple in theory: assist members in growing sales and increasing profitability. Everyone wants to sell more, and if this can be done at a greater margin, then what is there to stand in the way of world domination? Time.
Be honest, we have all used the excuse (and usually, it is an excuse rather than a reason) of “not enough time”, but it should not be left at that. Questions need to be asked. Why is there not enough time if the task at hand is vital in achieving your goals? Is it time management? Unnecessarily time-consuming marketing? Cumbersome administrative processes? Probably a combination of them all.
The key message is to find the time to effectively expand your business – without working longer hours. It means working smarter, shifting your mindset and subscribing to an alternative view of time. In one of his finest moments as Doctor Who, David Tennant said: “People assume that time is a strict progression from cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, time-y wimey stuff.”
Unlike the Doctor, we cannot manipulate the ‘time-y wimey’ stuff to introduce time travel, but here is the next best thing – quality, relevant and effective training to win dealers time to focus on their business.
Using time wisely
Our industry has traditionally underinvested in educating personnel, failing to translate the time and cost paid into significantly improved working practices. When people hear the word ‘training’, heads instinctively drop and thoughts turn to a young trainer who looks like they are straight out of school, with no frontline work experience, presenting you with a bunch of tips from the sales book of the bleeding obvious.
“Great. Thanks. I know all that, but as soon as I’ve finished this course, I’ll be back at my desk catching up on the emails I have missed and making up for the time lost while you have been talking to me.”
We know this to be the case because we have all been there, seen it and got the T-shirt. Undoubtedly, there are useful nuggets to be found in this style of coaching.
Our own team has been on courses, and members have attended professional, globally qualified sales workshops. The feedback? It was good, but I don’t have the time to follow up. That magic word once again!
At this point, you can imagine the training coaches tearing their hair out in frustration. Understandable because they know what is being taught is right and they fail to understand the non-reaction. They do not appreciate the manic working day of the typical business products dealer and cannot empathetically overcome the ‘I don’t have time’ barrier presented to them.
As you would expect, there are plenty of marketing tools available and sources of supply to break into new categories and offer customers hundreds of thousands of products. If a dealer, however, is too bogged down in the everyday activity of running a company, then the opportunity is being overlooked. This is where the training requirements arise.
To use Nemo Office Club as an example, we recently launched a training programme to address this issue. The course focuses on key areas and mirrors the core support objective for independent dealers – finding the time to grow.
Available to members, the content is tightly focused on their business and has been developed by a team with over 120 years of combined industry know-how. It is headed by our Group Training Lead, Nick Wilkinson, who has 30 years’ experience managing both sales and operational teams, and has created and delivered training for the likes of Spicers and Highlands Europe.
The specific modules are not about telling dealers how to run their business – we would never be so bold – but do provide advice, current ideas and processes, and introduce best practice from our and other industries.
It is all too easy to get set in our ways and make decisions based on ease and speed rather than necessity. Before you know it, you are on the conveyer belt of routine without any time to pause and reflect on whether you are doing the right thing. The seminars are about challenging that routine and suggesting different ways of working. Most importantly, there is a follow-up with attendees of the course to review how the changes implemented have impacted operations.
Time for change
One of the modules, ‘Finding Time’, specifically looks at re-evaluating where time is currently spent in order to create the time to work on company growth. As Coco Chanel once said: “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” You need to move along and go searching for the door, and all signposts point towards relevant quality training.
To quote Nemo Office Club Managing Director Tim Beaumont: “Focused training in the right areas is a game changer for dealers. By putting time into planning, marketing and developing teams and systems, dealers will find sales and profitability quickly grow.
“In addition, new accounts will open, customer retention will improve, employees will perform better and staff turnover will be lower. All in all, a pretty good return for investing in the time to make time.”
Far be it from me to contradict a 900-year-old time traveller, but to us mere mortals, time is more than just a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, time-y wimey stuff. It is a dealer’s most valuable asset and finding time will help them to achieve more of what they are already good at – being a successful workplace solutions reseller.
Alan Calder is Marketing Manager at Nemo Office Club