Change is around us each day and is a concept that most of us feel we understand. Yet, in reality many of us have little capacity to conceive, plan, prepare or manage change, myself included. Change is a constant, we tend to forget.
Yet, the fact remains: this is not your father’s automotive aftermarket! The business landscape is indeed quite different. Given the consolidations (acquisitions) on both the manufacturing and distribution sides of our industry, there appear to be ongoing changes affecting national distributors and the blending of wholesale and retailers.
We need to challenge each other and prove we are capable of acknowledging the change that has taken place in the aftermarket. As leaders, are we capable of envisioning what the industry will look like 20 years from now?
Do we all realize how important it is to anticipate the future and chart a path (road map) for the aftermarket’s continued success? Are we prescient enough (open-minded) to consider the changes that likely will occur, and then develop a blueprint that strategizes what your organization will need to thrive in the future, and initiate those changes?
Consider the following:
What impact will the Millennials have on our industry over the next 20 years?
Will the car and truck of the future be a computer on wheels?
Will there be more women and minorities in a senior leadership positions over the next 20 years? And how will this change company cultures?
Do you have the fortitude to manage change?
Do you have the courage to eliminate products and business practices that no longer drive sales or profitability?
Do you have the capacity to reinvent your product and customer value-adds, and address newly emergent competition that has taken away your market share both domestically and internationally?
Do you have the ability to analyze the skills your organization will need to move away from, for example, finance centric “deals” and move to selling value, marketing support and your value proposition?
Do you have plans in place that are capable of anticipating ever-increasing customer expectations?
In today’s automotive aftermarket, customers have indeed embraced transparency, real-time availability and unlimited access. They expect great products and value and great prices, and they seek to transact in a manner that is convenient to them! How is that for change?
What will the aftermarket look like 20 years from now? I feel the brands will remain strong, as well as the pursuit of value, throughout the distribution chain. The question is: What will the marketplace look like?
Will drones be delivering car parts?
Will there be stronger alliances between manufacturers and distributors?
Will new distribution partners enter the marketplace?
Will major manufacturers consolidate?
Of course, change requires that we all “think” and “act” differently! This can be difficult for all human beings. How many of us enjoy getting out of our comfort zone? Yet, change is quite persuasive in our daily lives. Some of us remember when both business and personal communication was not 24/7. (Sorry to date myself)
Protecting the status quo is a tendency we all have. The hard facts are the status quo is not sustainable! In fact, it never has been. We need to honor the best of the past and pioneer the future! Leadership requires altering the course of the industry’s future. And having the courage to revisit what made the industry successful in the past. Like feet on the street. More face time with customers.
Implementing change requires a sense of urgency, taking an x-ray of market and future global competitive realities. And forming a power coalition of change agents. Leaders must give employees the time, funds and power to create a new future.
Perhaps now is the time to have fewer corporate structures and systems, and encourage non-traditional ideas and actions. Driving on the super highway called change involves listening to your employees.
“Learn from the people, plan with the people. When the task is accomplished, the people all remark: We have done it ourselves” – Lao-tzu
Change from within the organization, discovered and implemented by those who need to do the changing, is a surefire win-win!
Introducing the need for change is not attacking the heart of your organization; it is ensuring there is coherence among your long-term strategy your culture and your performance metrics.
I think most leaders will agree that change is a constant in life and in business. Remember and honor what has made the aftermarket successful. And be diligent in preparing for the changes that are knocking on the door, as the times are a changin’!
“For the loser now, will be later to win, for the times they, they are a changing!” – Bob Dylan