It is time to re-group
While waiting for midnight to ring in the New Year I couldn’t help but look back at 2011, which has proven to be a very tough year for myself, my fellow servicers, and our industry partners. Many of us rode one of the wildest roller coaster rides recorded in recent history.
Huge brand once household names are mere shells of what they used to be. They are almost as extinct as some of the American names like Zenith and RCA. In the not so distant past these companies always took care of their customer by providing a great service experience either through their ASC’s or their Factory Service. All of them made sure that any parts needed were made available, that training was provided and that the service literatures were made available. Through these actions they developed customer satisfaction which resulted in brand name loyalty. Some are still doing their best to support their product.
Today off-brand manufacturers treat the American consumer market as a dumping ground for their, in every way, inferior product. Consumers are lied to that their purchases are a “great deal” but they are not told for whom. Customers are oblivious to the fact that the new low prices are directly proportional to the “quality” they are buying.
The only goal these manufacturers which flooded our market, had was to secure a lion share giving no thought of the problems they are creating for the consumer, or the servicer, not to mention the environment by creating tremendous amount of hazardous waste.
The appliance industry still has a chance to correct its attitude toward the market share by continuing to provide quality product and still make a profit. Sad to say, but they too seem to be slowly sliding down to the levels of the electronic manufactures in that they are cutting back on the support provided to their customers. Another area where this is also evident is in the drastic decrease of product training, lack of technical literature, and not least the low repair rates which are insufficient to sustain their Authorized Service Centers.
Luckily the appliance manufacturers still have enough American presence to kept offshore manufactures from dumping their products on our market creating loss. In my opinion all manufactures owe Whirlpool a big thank you because they are the ones that brought the action to the Department of Commerce and won.
In recent history we have seen many independent repair service centers as well as big retailers close down their operations. Sears and Kmart just announced they are closing over 100 stores.
I fondly remember my own beginnings with the “mom and pop” retail store. They knew how to make a profit by making their customer their prime goal. Business dealings required nothing fancy; a simple hand shake was enough. Along came the big boys with their huge discounts and with their hands wrapped around the manufactures throats; contracts that only lawyer can interpret, and customer support became an old fashioned outdated concept.
Friends, none of this happened overnight. We are at the crossroads and some of us feel that we can take the higher road out of this mess and make a difference. The question we should be asking the manufacturers among others are these: Are you aware that Consumers in growing numbers are becoming fed up with hi-tech, low-end disposable, non-serviceable product? Will you continue eroding your own profits until you are forced to close operations or can you change your course and bring back this entire industry to a healthy and profitable level?
Let us work together to make 2012 the year of positive changes. Only when we get serious about the future of OUR BUSINESS will we be able to move forward, to raise the standard of expectation for services rendered, to eradicate the trunk monkey, to eliminate zero profit on parts which hurts our existence, and to request a re-evaluation of repair rate offered in compensation. It is time to re-group and get into survival of the fittest mode.
First we change the way we see ourselves, and our business then we ask our industry partners to bring about change on their end. We can insist on bringing back Customer Support. Increase effort to raise the levels of Consumer Satisfaction. Create ads that educate the Consumer about the value of their money. Either it is thrown away, or it is invested. If invested then they deserve to get peace of mind. If they lack that, then they need to ask for it.
The goal of your 57 year old PSOC is to help Servicers remain in business. It is our goal to continue to be the voice for the independent appliance and electronic repair specialist. Be sure to check out our new website which recently underwent a successful facelift. Please don’t forget to renew your dues for 2012. Also don’t forget to keep an eye for the upcoming convention. As you know your PSOC conventions are educational, motivational, inspiring, and are a fully deductible business expense. We need you and your valued input to create resources which will financially benefit you and others. May 2012 be the year we look back on fondly.
All the best to you and yours