I recently learned that at one of my dealers in small-town rural Alberta one of the two principals retired, selling his half in the business to his partner.
Since most of my dealings were with the now-retired principal, and I didn’t know the other all that well, it seemed like a good idea to drive out there and spend some time getting to know him.
And it was a good thing that I did.
Because the two partners focused on managing different sides of their business the remaining partner knew almost nothing about his company’s relationship with me and the distributor I represent.
In fact, his understanding of things like how our warranty programs work was seriously outdated, based on the way we used to do things a long time ago.
The good news is that he was pleased to learn that the things he thought he didn’t like about us had changed for the better years ago.
I’ve learned over the years that you cannot take for granted that your customers know everything that you know. A large part of my job involves asking my contacts at my dealers probing questions, looking for gaps in their understanding, so that I can ensure that they’re well informed.
A few years ago two other dealers of mine in a town about three hours away both had new people take on the inventory manager roles. So I scheduled a road trip to drive out there, meet the new people, and make sure they were well-trained on what they needed to know from me.
One week later, I kid you not, they both quit their jobs, and two new people stepped into the inventory manager roles.
So I drove out there again, a six hour round trip, to ensure that the new people who do all the ordering are on-board and equipped to do their job, ordering products from me.
A company is its people, and its memory is dependent upon them. People come and go, and with them crucial information can be lost.
So, go out and visit your customers. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you with questions, go there and find out for yourself what they know and what they need you teach them.