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September 2004

Consolidation: How will you cope?

This is the first in a series of such stories, as it is high in many recyclers awareness, as they wonder, will larger operations put others out of business?

This first story discusses customer service, a key to success. One of the benefits of being among the industry’s thousands or smaller recycling facilities is that you enjoy rapid adaptability. Sole proprietors have the flexibility of not having to hold a meeting or notify partners or investors before making a change. You are able to meet the market on a whim. More importantly such recycler owners can offer something no one else can: you.

Sure the customer can go to a larger consolidation facility where they are just one of the several customers in progress, or they can come to your facility where you can take personal care of them. Focusing on attentiveness and how much more important every single customer is gives the small facilities advantage over our larger competitors.

Customers like personal attention; I know I like to be recognized when making a purchase. When I was about 10 years old my parents went to purchase new furniture. Anyone who knows my father is aware that he wears his gray uniform almost everywhere. When we arrived at a large department store, mom picked out the furniture she wanted, and all the sales people ignored us. Dad was getting frustrated and called on a salesperson (of course they thought we were only taking up their time). He was told someone would be with us in a bit. My dad made the purchase in cash, and the reaction on the salesperson's face was priceless. Even at 10 years of age, I noticed the lack of customer service. When we train a new salesperson, we make it clear that they are to treat every customer like they were your parents - give them the attention you would want to have. Some of our first customers still walk through the door, or call looking for parts. Be positive on the phone; you can never go too far with being cordial, courteous and friendly. Treat your customer well and they will return it in folds.

With the continued growth of consolidators, small recycling facilities are likely to face even tougher competition in the future, but there will always be a place for smart recycling facilities of all sizes. When customers call or come in for a part they like to be recognized, they like attention, they like the fact that you personally pulled and tested their part.

We have the ability to keep our customers for life, but do we?


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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