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July 2004

How Do You Improve Your Business?
Ask Your Emplyees

If you have more than a couple of employees, ask them to give you at least three ideas of what you (their company) can do to increase their sales. Point out to salespersons that if their suggestions increase their individual sales, their income will increase as well.

Don't open up a Pandora's Box with this. Limit this inquiry to three good answers from each salesperson or employee so that they will be more thoughtful about and specific with their answers. Require them to write them down, not just verbalize them. Offer a prize; say $100, for any idea utilized.

Here are three good ideas that came back to me when he did this many years ago.

My operation had a key-phone system, the kind with buttons along the bottom for different lines, where a light goes on when a line is in use. An employee would have to shout, "Joe, line three!" or whatever, when a customer asked for a specific sales customer representative. The first good idea suggested was implemented almost immediately with the installation of a quality electronic phone system.

The second profit-making idea to come from my employees was arranging to accept American Express credit cards, something I had not already done. Most of our wholesale accounts started paying with American Express because it's a business credit card. They didn't pay with Visa or Master Card, especially the larger accounts; so this idea made us a lot of money. Since I didn't talk to customers directly, I didn't realize that the customers had been asking if they could pay with American Express. Our business revenue went up almost immediately by $50,000 a month!

The third suggestion that came into being from my employees was a failure. It was to take on one of those programs that, for 3%, guaranteed a customer's check on a C.O.D. shipment. My team soon learned that most customers were unwilling to pay the 3% service charge and that, if I was to absorb it, it would take too much away from my sales margin. I also tracked the number of C.O.D. sales before and after setting up the guaranteed check system and found that the sales did not go up following its installation. So that idea was a failure.

The first idea allowed something else. It added scalability to the sales floor. Sales increased because of the improved communications, and the increase allowed me to hire more sales staff, while I went on to grow the company.

Though the last idea did not work to increase sales, it did increase the employee's feeling of worth about the company. Asking the opinion of your employees brings them more into the picture of success. When they truly feel they are contributing, they will be more loyal. It's a win-win management technique. Besides, I didn't think of it, and it could have worked to serve a greater profit. Your employees are your representatives at the point of sale. They can bring back valuable information, ideas and experience you might otherwise overlook.

So keep your ears open to their voices. You'll build loyalty for certain and a stronger business as well. My businesses grew because I put a value on what my employees had to say.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Ron's free monthly auto recycling e-newsletter, with news and tips, register at www.autosalvageconsultant.com.

Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at WWW.autosalvageconsultant.com He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, rons@rdsinvestments.com or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.

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