Water Well Journal

February 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/451364

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Page 55 of 75

F ormer General Electric CEO Jack Welch is famous for saying, "When the world around you is changing at a rate faster than you are . . . the end is near." I believe this is an appropriate statement for the position many of us are in today. I think we should be regularly asking ourselves several questions. What is the world our customers are in? How do they interact with their suppliers and their supply chains? How do we compare to them? Early on, there was a finite number of functions available on the Internet. When I first surfed the Internet in 1971, it was a whole different environment. The browser was Gopher from the University of Minnesota—not Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or others. The information, or I should say the data, was primarily financial and governmental. There was a lim- ited set of opportunities to make use of. How times have changed. Now there are trillions of entries added each day. Do a search and you'll get hundreds of thou- sands of results. You can get information on almost anything. What a fantastic resource! Do you use the Internet today? Often? If you don't, be careful because nearly everyone, including your children and grandchildren, are using it every day. In the Beginning Some 15 years ago in our training we created a learning segment we called "The Internet and You." This segment was intended to create some thinking and then action from our stu- dents when they returned to their businesses and dealerships. It began with a presentation on the Internet and how to have a company website. The evolution of dealer websites followed a rather tortuous path. Back in the late 1970s is when we had the first signifi- cant activity of creating websites at the dealership level. Busi- nesses were starting to recognize the changing needs and wants of their customers. In the parts business, it was becom- ing a case of the customer wanting "the right product at the right place at the right price at the right time." This was recognized as a game changer by a few. But the vast majority took to the sidelines and watched, waiting and looking for signals and hints. But there is a serious problem with this, isn't there? Don't your customers want you leading and not following? The Internet is just one of the many of what I call "disrup- tive technologies" we have experienced over the past century. For example, we saw the arrival and growing development of department stores. These stores replaced the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker of the old days. The disrup- tive technology that enabled this option was the railroad. At the same time, we saw the arrival and proliferation of mail order catalogs. The disruptive technology that enabled this was free rural mail. Then we saw the arrival of big box stores. The disruptive technology that enabled those was the automobile and then suburbia. Each of these changes were difficult to envision as they evolved. Most people didn't see what those heading Macy's and Gimbels did when they started. The U.S. mail didn't have competition when free rural mail began. And who saw the world the way Sam Walton did years ago? What is interesting is the initiators of these radical changes eventually became victims to change as well. For example, Gimbels lasted from 1887 to 1987 and was closed with some of its profitable stores purchased by the competition. The Threat Today The threat we face now is the Internet. I call it a threat because unless we embrace this technological business tool, we will also face serious challenges. We have a different retail world today. The largest retailer in the world is Amazon, which did not even own and operate warehouses until recently. This is the challenge the Internet presents. Look how state governments are clamoring to obtain sales taxes from Internet retailers who don't have a physical presence in a state, but conduct business with customers in that state. Nearly everyone in the world, including our customers, is using the Internet. This means they have moved to a world of "whenever I want it and wherever I can do the transaction." Wow. Have you adapted? Are you operating online? Our customers not only have high expectations, they are better informed buyers today. They want ease of use and high value. Notice this is no longer about price. Now you can no longer expect their business. You have to earn it each and every day. The relationships many businesses have with their customers are fragile. What about your employees? Are they Internet-ready? RON SLEE THE AFTER MARKET THE INTERNET AND YOU Have you adapted to this new reality? 54 February 2015 WWJ waterwelljournal.com Our customers have moved to a world of "whenever I want it and wherever I can do the transaction."

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