DST Asks: How Do You View the Industry and Your Career? - aftermarketNews

DST Asks: How Do You View the Industry and Your Career?

Every automobile in every dealer’s showroom in America displays an EPA fuel economy ratings sticker. The ratings are estimates developed by the automakers after testing a limited number of pre-production vehicles. The EPA then verifies the results on roughly 10 to 15 percent of the vehicles produced for that year. The tests, repeated the same way each time in a controlled environment, are the same for all autos and are supposed to simulate city and highway driving conditions. They can’t - and don’t - reflect the conditions under which every vehicle is driven; nor do they reflect the maintenance condition, type of fuel used, or - perhaps most importantly-the variety of driving styles that we all see everyday on the streets. What do mileage ratings and driving styles have to do with your aftermarket career? Plenty.

MISSION VIEJO, CA — Every automobile in every dealer’s showroom in America displays an EPA fuel economy ratings sticker. The ratings are estimates developed by the automakers after testing a limited number of pre-production vehicles. The EPA then verifies the results on roughly 10 to 15 percent of the vehicles produced for that year. The tests, repeated the same way each time in a controlled environment, are the same for all autos and are supposed to simulate city and highway driving conditions. They can’t – and don’t – reflect the conditions under which every vehicle is driven; nor do they reflect the maintenance condition, type of fuel used, or – perhaps most importantly-the variety of driving styles that we all see everyday on the streets.

What do mileage ratings and driving styles have to do with your aftermarket career? Plenty.

Our careers in the aftermarket also reflect a variety of driving styles. Whether you are professionally stuck in traffic, limited in business options by start and stop city driving, or achieving your career objectives out on the highway — speeding along and enjoying the scenery using cruise control — there’s something about the industry that has a hold on many of us. Maybe it’s the rich and varied challenges and opportunities offered by a multi-billion dollar industry; maybe it’s the next logical psychological extension of America’s love affair with the automobile; maybe it’s a path followed from previous generations of your family; or, it might just be a combination of all of the above. In any case, there’s something that rings very true about the observation that “once you’re in the aftermarket, you never get out.”

Despite the maturity of the industry and its many tiers and facets, along with the talented professionals and revenue-generating potential of the businesses within it, perhaps no other large market is so greatly in need of alternative methods of transacting business. The industry is huge, essential and fragmented. Many of the business processes currently delivering value range from barely adequate to nearly dysfunctional. In recognition of the fact that standing out from the crowd — or even surviving in it — continues to be ever more challenging in today’s highly competitive and sometimes murky supply chain, how we leverage technology to cause business process change and enhance our career goals can be related to the tips issued by the EPA for achieving better vehicle fuel economy.

For instance, accelerating and braking smoothly and gently instead of jackrabbiting around in spurts and then slamming on the brakes can save both gasoline in your vehicle and productivity in your office or shop or store. Avoiding excessive idling and prolonged warm-ups while standing still will improve your mileage and improve your job performance. Driving at a consistent, steady speed will get you to your geographic destination with less anxiety and reduced gasoline consumption, just as it will get you to your career destination without mental engine burnout. Avoiding erratic, aggressive, behavioral-based driving habits when you are angry or upset or frustrated will avoid wasting fuel, as well as wasting energy and creating professional interaction disasters with colleagues and customers or suppliers.

Combining trips and making stops in sequence when running errands if you must go to the store, the bank, the dry cleaners and other destinations will result in fewer trips to the gas pump and a more productive day at work if technology is assisting you in the steps of each business transaction. Avoiding peak rush hours by leaving home earlier and leaving work later will decrease the time your car’s engine spends idling and increase the time you have to devote to your business. Keeping your tires properly inflated and aligned and your engine well maintained will conserve gasoline; and keeping your ego in check and your body as well as your mind healthy while being provided with up-to-date, real-time business data will make for better business decision-making with less wasteful mistakes.

Anticipating obstacles ahead and keeping an eye on the rearview mirror to provide a safety cushion around your vehicle will result in a smoother ride and lower fuel costs, just as having the data at your fingertips to review history and forecast the future will give you the tools to build a robust, energy efficient business. Removing excess weight and things that create drag will improve your vehicle’s mileage, just as streamlining your business operations will improve your own overall performance.

Most of the respondents to last week’s poll let us know that, in addition to earning a living, they enjoy the strategic, long range aspect of their work in making an impact. We’re fortified and encouraged by those responses. But along with that, many of us are so caught up in the day-to-day challenges and the satisfaction seeking and income generation that our careers provide that planning for the future, both foreseeable and long-term, is delayed or avoided. How will we be doing business two years from now? Five years from now? If I’m a business owner, what will be my personal exit strategy when it’s time to retire? Will my descendants inherit the business or will it be sold to another individual or acquired by a larger corporation? Am I networking within the industry and formulating business relationships now that will ultimately forge a partnership or merger in the future? Is my business as productive and profitable as it should be to be attractive to a potential buyer? Am I employing technology that connects me with my customers and suppliers and other locations and stimulates growth and profitability?

Perhaps like no other time in the past, since way back when gas stations started to replace blacksmith shops, the aftermarket and the myriad of businesses that comprise it are at a fork in the road when it comes to the direction it will take. Business system technology advances and the growing proliferation of e-commerce via the Internet and the 24/7 business opportunities it fosters provide productivity, profitability and growth opportunities never before imagined. The supply chains of other industries have been streamlined and enriched by technology, providing their respective professionals with even more opportunity for career growth and satisfaction and the ability to make an ever greater impact. The aftermarket supply chain and the processes for conducting business within it will look very different five years from now and provide our own professionals with the same benefits.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

We continue to love to get your responses to our weekly questions, hearing your thoughts on the topics that we post, suggestions for additional questions and anything you’d like to share. Send us an email at: [email protected] or give us a shout at 1.800.700.4DST.

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“DST Asks” is written and sponsored by DST Inc. The opinions expressed in “DST Asks” articles appearing on aftermarketNews.com do not necessarily reflect the opinions of AMN or Babcox Publications.

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