Many of us had the opportunity to attend the WQA Aquatech USA conference and trade show in Orlando, Fla. during the last week of March. While our May issue will offer a detailed overview of key industry trends and new product launches revealed at the show, this month, I would like to discuss the importance of staffing.
Unlike manufacturers and distributors, water dealers often work with a very small staff. Many dealers don’t have time to recruit, train and supervise new employees so they rely on themselves or just a few other people to do all the work. This is not a new problem, and it is true for many small businesses across various industries.
The main concern is that instead of focusing on key business issues, most owners are out in the field in crawl spaces installing equipment. It’s true that when you first start a dealership, you may have to be the person who answers the phones, does the bookkeeping, schedules the appointments and installs the equipment. But I think the only way for dealers to continue to grow is by growing their staff.
I encourage dealers to ask themselves: “Am I constantly late and putting out fires, and do I find myself sacrificing important opportunities for my business (such as attending last month’s WQA Aquatech show) simply because I didn’t have enough time to get to everything?” If the answer is yes, chances are you are one of the many dealers who are understaffed.
In order to run a successful business, dealers need to be effective managers, which means prioritizing their responsibilities and assigning more to their employees. If there is no one who can take the wheel while you attend an important seminar or trade show, or even take a vacation, you are not running an efficient dealership, you are treading water—pun intended.
So be sure to focus your main attention on the important aspects of running the business, such as budgeting, reviewing finances, planning and marketing. Leave duties such as water testing, installations or fixing the company’s truck to your staff. Of course, it’s key to surround yourself with people you can rely on so that you are confident things will get done.
For those who worry about what hiring more people means for their bottom line, keep in mind that running a one-man show doesn’t necessarily make you more cost-effective. After all, customers and prospects slip through the cracks when you are too busy dealing with the nuts and bolts to pay attention to things such as customer service and networking events.
Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to alert dealers who want to become more efficient and successful about the upcoming launch of our annual supplement, Dealer Insight. The Dealer Insight is designed to pinpoint specific areas that need to be addressed in order to help dealers get the most out of their business.
Look for a copy of the supplement mailed with the May issue of Water Quality Products.