Last week, I was fortunate to go on my first overnight work trip in 18 months. Also — and these two things are related — that trip was the farthest I’ve been from home in almost two years. One of my biggest dealers held their first Customer Appreciation Day in over two years, and I was one of the vendors they asked to join them and support their festivities.
As I’m sure you can imagine, it was fantastic to connect face to face with people I’ve known for years for the first time in what feels like forever. Unfortunately, my first taste of freedom may be my last for a while. When we were out for dinner Wednesday night, the phones of everyone in the restaurant went off at the same time. Siren noises and flashing notices from the Emergency Broadcast System told everyone that a state of emergency had been declared and new public health restrictions would be enacted the following day.
It was a very cinematic moment. And sad.
All of that is kind of tangential to where I want to go with this post, but I needed to get that off my chest. I don’t know anyone who isn’t fatigued by the ongoing state of affairs, and I’m no different. Where I am going with this is that, while I was there, I had the chance to catch up with people I’ve known forever and meet the new people they’ve brought on board. We had some insightful discussions.
One of the things we touched on was the importance of having the right people in place. No matter what your business is, what segment you’re in or what technology you work with, it boils down to who’s on your team. My dealer’s management is happy with the recent new hires they’ve made, some of whom come from outside the channel and some from within. In fact, I can attest to the success of their hiring because the people they’ve hired from within come from some of my other dealers. I can say I’ve noticed a shift; the company I was visiting with has outpaced some of their peers. Order volume has increased at the locations that have acquired hires from elsewhere.
That’s reminiscent of what the principal of one of my other biggest dealers told me a few years ago. When one of their locations was in the weeds, they would send one or two of the company’s top salespeople to work there for a day or two. Suddenly, that location would become the top store in the company. It’s a mystery — or maybe it isn’t.
The lesson the company learned was to emphasize the value of the people on their team in their equations. They also learned the importance of hiring better, ongoing training and development and focusing on compensation that encourages higher retention of top performers. The results of that kind of investment become immediately apparent when companies institute them.