Operational Excellence

Benchmarking & Budgeting

  • 3 Simple Questions to Evaluate Your Dealerships (December 2016) - In working with dealers, I've encountered three simple non-numeric, non-financial ways to evaluate a dealership.  Each of these questions came from a successful dealer principal or from an OEM dealer development manager.  These questions are more important because good answers to these questions are likely to drive good numbers.

  • Why Use a Financial Model?  (July/Aug 2011) - Using a financial model and not just a budget is important to achieving consistent profitability. To show the difference between the two, let’s consider a real world situation for a dealership.

  • Beyond Budgeting: How the Most Successful Dealers Forecast (July/Aug 2010) - Consider all revenues sources and influences, know your customer and set sales targets, plan for profits which means expense targets.

  • Benchmarking the Best: How Top Dealers Compare Their Performance (Feb 2010) - Why & how to set and use benchmarks, especially for expense control.

Business Systems & Information Technology

  • 10 Things to Ask Your Business System Supplier - (January 2015) - This column will provide you with questions you need to ask the business software provider(s) about the future capabilities of the system you use to run your dealership. These questions are not unreasonable because all of the capabilities discussed are already available in some form in farm equipment dealerships today. So to use a trite but true statement, “The future is now!”

  • Using Technology to Connect & Collaborate - (January 2014) - My last article was titled “Technology to Exceed Customer Expectations.” In it I cited 5 different real world examples that show how farm equipment dealers use technology to better serve their customers and to improve their dealership’s performance.

  • Technology to Exceed Customer Expectations - (Oct/Nov 2013) - I love what I do. Every day I work with leading farm and construction equipment dealers all across the continent as they strive to get better. I continue to learn much from these progressive dealers who are constantly working to better serve a customer base with rapidly rising expectations.

  • Make Your DBS More Productive (Dec 2012) - Farm equipment dealers, like most computer software and hardware users, use only a small portion of the features built into the systems they work with every day. Studies show users utilize only about 30% of the available features in many systems at the top of the range and as little as 10% of the built-in features are exploited by any one user. This low utilization rate is the same whether it's a dealer business system (DBS) or a general computer application like Microsoft Word

  • Upgrade Your Fleet Management Technology (Sept 2012) - It's 8 a.m.; do you know where your trucks are? After real estate, a dealership's largest non-inventory asset is likely their rolling stock: delivery flatbeds and lo-boys, remote service vehicles, sales personnel cars or trucks, delivery vans, etc. But land and buildings stays put. Your rolling stock ... well, it rolls.

  • Are You Using Your Business Software Profitably? (June 2012) - Do you think of your dealer business management software as technology? How about the software applications on your personal computers and other electronic devices?

Parts & Service

  • Do You Know Your Carrying Costs?  (Sept. 2017) - As a retailer, you must have inventory. But do you know the costs of holding machines and parts in stock? In my experience, most farm equipment dealers don’t know the hidden costs of carrying inventory — the number can be difficult to determine and most guesses are way too low.

  • Automating the Service Department of the Future (February 2015) - Service is without a doubt the most expensive department to operate. It occupies the most space in the dealership so it has the highest occupancy costs (heat, light, power, rent/amortization, etc.); it also employs the most people, and has the highest operating costs.

  • How Technology Affects Your Parts-to-Labor Ratio (September 2014) - Do you use parts-to-labor ratio as a key benchmark in your operation? This important rule of thumb maintains that for every dollar of labor sales, your dealership should generate one dollar of parts sales. Both parts and service should be your dealership’s most profitable departments and this ratio helps drive profits in both areas.

  • Benchmark Your Service Personnel Costs (March 2011) - The single biggest personnel cost in a farm equipment dealership is in the service department. Of course, most dealerships will have more personnel in service than other departments. But if this cost is more than 20% of your service revenues, you need to closely examine it to determine if some things are out of line.

  • Hard Data Plus Soft Skills = Improved Absorption (Oct/Nov 2010) - Examines hard and soft skill needed in each of three drivers of better absorption - Revenue, Gross Margin and Expenses.

  • Parts & Service: Where the Profits Are (Feb 2010) - Productivity benchmarks for 5 critical variables - Revenue Growth, Financial Performance, Employee Productivity, Asset Turns and Customer Satisfaction.  Part of Special Issue on Parts and Service.

  • Using Service Scorecards to Improve Absorption (Oct/Nov 2009) - Examples of 5 point scorecard for Technicians.  Also for Service Manager.

Productivity - Personal & Business

  • Small Daily Improvements Key to Long-Term Results (April 2018) - This headline is based on a sign posted at my gym that made me think about your business, and my challenge to “Make 2018 the Year of Human Capital Development.” I started to think about the small things that you can do with your people to develop them and your dealership. Doing small things that lead to big things is a useful perspective for you to create change with your employees and colleagues. It provides an approach for you to do every day in order to create big improvements. A complementary idea is, “If you take care of the little things, then the big things take care of themselves.” Here are 5 ‘little things’ that you can do to foster ‘small daily improvements.' 

  • Why the Big Switch from PCs to Tablets? (July 2014) - The impetus for this month’s column started with a comment from a dealer in one of our Currie Management Dealer Groups. At a recent meeting, he remarked, “Look around the room. Isn’t it interesting that everyone who used a laptop computer a year ago now uses a tablet?”

  • 10 Simple Tricks to Make Better Use of Personal Technology (Sept 2013) - Do you have a cell phone? Do you access the Internet regularly to find information? How about voice mail? Or a digital camera? Word processing or spreadsheets?

  • Simple Technologies to Increase Staff Efficiency (Oct/Nov 2012) - The title of this series of articles is “Technology for Profit” and is aimed at giving equipment dealers concrete examples of how advanced technology is being adapted to the day-to-day operations at machinery retailers to improve their bottom line.

  • Building an Interconnected, Knowledge-Based Dealership (July/Aug 2012) - Whether we like it or not, change is here when we talk about business technology. In your dealership, the adoption and use of new technology is moving literally at the speed of sound. The products you sell and service are more technologically sophisticated, which means that the way you sell and service them must at least match that level of sophistication.

  • Smart Uses for Smart Phones in the Dealership (April/May 2012) - Most dealer-principals and their salespeople use cell phones to speed up their communications and for customer convenience. But, what about cell phones for others in the dealership such as the service techs and the parts people?

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