The Future of Strategies: Fusion

The Future of Strategies: Fusion

This week, our Founder Ron Slee is writing about “The Future of Strategies: Fusion,” inspired by his ongoing reading and research into the methods AI might bring to our workforce.

For many of us strategy is a nice word but doesn’t really apply to us. As more time passes and technology continues to advance at a pace that seems incomprehensible, I am seriously changing my mind.

Consider if you will the following examples of disruptions in the marketplace.

Uber analyzes data on more than twenty-five billion rides. Taxi companies don’t.

Netflix tracks people’s viewing preferences by the second. Cable and TV don’t.

Airbnb tracks where, when, and how long travelers stay and what they do and prefer. Hotels don’t.

What about you?

You have telematics and sensors. You have purchase data on what your customers buy and what they don’t buy. You know at what rate your customer stops buying from you. You have customer buying habits. Frequencies and dollar values. So, what do you do with all that data? Do you have employees who analyze and report back their findings? Do you act on those findings? 

The change here is not in the equipment anymore. We have seen unbelievably rapid changes in the capital goods industries, in the machines, over the past two decades. Now, however, it is not about the machine. It is about merging all the data you own in your business with AI. By itself this is aa monumental shift. And this is only the beginning. The competitive advantage is changing. The rewards are going to businesses that have real-time analytics not those that have the most valuable physical assets. 

This is where fusion comes into play. This is what is going to change the business models we have depended on for the past fifty years. The change in the business model will accelerate strategic thinking. It will allow you to evaluate the relationships that you have with each customer. After all we are in a relationship business. My changing my mind reflects my belief that companies will either adapt and adjust to this way of thinking and achieve incredible growth in value. Of they will be left behind and, in many cases, simply disappear.

In a recent book I read, “Fusion Strategy,” they introduce a thing called “Datagraphs.”

A Datagraph captures the relationships, the links, and the interrelationships between the supplier and the consumer. They are the basic building blocks of the fusion strategy. The concept of a datagraph came from social networks and graph theory but it required Artifical Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) before it could become widely used. The datagraph gets smarter over time. It becomes better as the data becomes more widespread and better defined. This creates an advantage that I think you can see. That datagraph advantage redefines scale and scope. The very foundation of strategy.

Many of you are familiar with my belief that most people are linear thinkers. They proceed through life with a “if this is done this happens.” The world requires us to be geometric thinkers, there is more than one option in every situation. In the linear world business expanded their scale of operations by increasing sales. It was based on the company’s ability to access physical and human and financial capital. Essentially the barrier to entry into any market was financial. 

Datagraph leaders are not concerned with absolute numbers, they want details. There lies the difference. You must accept that you don’t know what you don’t know. You won’t know until you get details at every level.

This presents us with a rather clear warning. Datagraph insights allow datagraph businesses to expand and grow. It is time for our capital goods industries to recognize this and adapt.

This is the challenge of AI. We can find out many things. However, you must know what question to ask. There is the sticking point. Who knows what questions to ask? Who knows what Datagraphs you need to develop? Let’s start at the beginning.

With Datagraphs we can understand what happened. So that is the WHAT. Next, we must figure out the more puzzling question. WHY. 

This is a brief overview of what is coming to you. It is here now for many. We are confronted with the arrival of a new business model. That alone will be a rather large challenge. We are going to have to be much “smarter” in how we look at our businesses. It is no longer about improving the process and making more money. It is about serious analyses – descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive. We will be covering this more in the coming months.

The Time is Now.

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How To Improve Customer Retention

How To Improve Customer Retention

This week, guest writers Steve Clegg and Debbie Frakes talk with readers about how to improve customer retention. This is one of the best ways to build successes: keep the customers you already have!

Retention is critical for the long-term success of any business. It’s crucial because it is far less expensive to keep your existing customers than to acquire new ones, and customers will buy more products and purchase more often from you the longer they work with you. Zintoro business analytics will tell you what your overall retention rate is and if you are in danger of losing specific at-risk customers. Armed with that information, you can take the right steps to ensure they keep working with you. 

Why customers leave you. 

Customers will stop working with you for any number of different reasons. But the primary cause is mismanaging their expectations and not keeping them proactively informed of good and bad news. The second most common reason that a customer leaves a business is a change in the employee contact or the customer contact. The third cause is having employees that are not adequately trained or knowledgeable of your products and services. Despite popular belief, price is not typically the thing that drives customers away. In fact, on the list of most common reasons, price is usually fifth or sixth. 

There are several strategies you can implement to retain more customers over the long term. In this article, we’ll look at what they are and how Zintoro helps you put them into practice.

Retain more customers with Zintoro and their partners. 

Offer exceptional customers service. 

The key to providing excellent service is understanding customer expectations and being responsive to their questions and concerns. Your team should be proactive and reach out to customers before they contact you in order to answer the questions you anticipate them asking. 

Zintoro uses Winsby Inc.’s customer satisfaction and benchmark survey programs to determine your customers’ expectations and any issues they are having. Your team can then act on this information. For employee customer service training, Zintoro relies on Ron Slee’s Learning without Scars’ online and in person training programs.

Personalize the customer experience. 

Zintoro AI tracks each customer to determine their next purchase, what industry, and market they are in, and whether they are at risk of being lost. Using that information, your sales team can personalize customer interactions and tailor offers and recommend services to meet their needs, based on their past purchases and preferences. Zintoro also works with Winsby Inc. to keep your master lists up to date with the correct contacts, phone numbers, and email addresses, as well as to segment your lists and tailor messaging to specific groups. 

Build strong relationships with consistent communication. 

Improving customer retention depends on engaging with your customers and supporting them beyond the point of sale. Zintoro can help in several different ways: 

  • Provide the customer purchase data you need to reward long term customers with discounts, exclusive offers, or special access. 
  • Create and distribute high engagement emails, blogs, newsletters, and social media content through our partner, Winsby Inc. 
  • Zintoro works with most CRM systems to integrate analytics data with your sales and marketing messaging. They have found that Constant Contact’s Sharpspring CRM program supported by ClearTail marketing is one of the best because it is easy to use, automates much of the sales and email process, tracks customized information to help the customer experience and sends scored sales leads to your sales team. 

Collect and act on feedback!

The key to understanding your customer expectations and issues is to regularly ask for feedback. Implementing customer satisfaction surveys from our partner, Winsby Inc., provides insights into how customers feel about your company and how well you provide for their needs. You’ll discover issues with your sales process, products, and other aspects of your business before they turn into major problems and customers leave you for the competition. 

Know the signs that a customer may leave. 

Zintoro tracks the products, frequency, and consistency of customer purchases to identify who is at risk. Your sales team can then act on that information and reach out to those customers, ask about their needs, and even provide a special offer or other incentive to encourage them to stay with you. 

Highlight social proof and testimonials. 

Showcasing positive customer experiences in your emails and on your website helps you convert more prospects and keep your existing customers. Zintoro AI tracks the online customer satisfaction scores, and Winsby Inc. posts your verified customer reviews online and on your website.

Zintoro is the key piece of the puzzle for customer retention. 

Increasing retention is an ongoing process. By consistently providing value, personalization, and outstanding service, you can build long lasting relationships with your customers and increase their loyalty to your brand. Zintoro provides the data and information you need to understand your customers, and our partners give you the tools required to retain them and grow your sales. 

Schedule a Zintoro demo to find out how they boost your customer retention, track, and accurately forecast business performance, and determine the ROI for your marketing and customer satisfaction efforts.

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Strategic Partners in Employee Development

Strategic Partners in Employee Development

Ron Slee makes an important announcement in his blog post, “Strategic Partners in Employee Development.”

An important step in the employee training world is taking place. Learning Without Scars is joining into a Strategic Partnership with four other businesses involved in employee development and training.

The McDonald Group, Inc.

Over the past four decades of collaborating with dealer management teams to help them improve profitability, market share, cash flow, and customer retention Walter McDonald has built a series of powerful learning tools. The focus of the McDonald Group is on working with and coaching dealer leadership teams worldwide to build their knowledge and skills on how to employ world-class best practices and achieve high-profit dealer benchmark performance levels The Group has recently published their 10-volume Master’s Program in Dealer Management book set. 

Winsby offers machinery dealer marketing services that work. They will build your customer email lists, create, and send effective emails, conduct customer satisfaction surveys, manage your website, and produce all the creative. The results of their work are phenomenal: customer retention is 30% higher, customer spending increases 2-3 times and customer purchase frequency increases 2-3 times. Contact Debbie Frakes, Managing Director, Winsby, Inc. 312-870-5678, 

HIVE Quick Response. First-trip service job completion is essential for improved customer satisfaction and technician productivity. The HIVE quick response system starts with placing encrypted decals with unique identifiers on each piece of equipment. These include model and serial numbers, GPS location, and other vital information. In 45 seconds, a service request can be submitted and your team will have all the vital information they need from the start. No more spending countless hours on the phone tracking down information and no more frustrated customers stuck waiting on hold. Results? 60% increase in first-time completion. 200% reduction on follow-up phone calls. Fifteen percent increase in technician utilization. 100% accurate equipment information. Contact: Steve Ross, President, HIVEQR, 407-234-4150. 

For Dealers in need of job function-based online training classes, seminars, and webinars, LWS has developed an extensive catalog of relevant classes and job function training. LWS supports six distinct PartsDepartment employee categories with 36 individual courses and six Service Department positions with 36 individual courses. Overall LSW has eighteen job function skills assessments and 108 subject-specific classes available today. I highly recommend Ron Slee and his team for his highly popular dealer training resources. Contact: Ron Slee, 760-413-0708, 

For manufacturers interested in customized support for dealer service and parts department training programs, Burgio, Cooney & Associates offers facilitator-led workshops, interactive web-based training, self-study workbooks, and video technologies. BCA designs gap assessments, curriculum development, training material production, and expert delivery. The BCA team members are experts in training—sales and customer service, technical skills, product knowledge, and supervisory skills. When your front-line employees are well-trained, they are better prepared to answer customers’ questions and offer solutions, making customers more likely to return and again.  Contact: Michael Cooney, 816-979-1414,

In 45 seconds, a service request can be submitted and your team will have all of the vital information they need from the start. No more spending countless hours on the phone tracking down information, and no more frustrated customers stuck waiting on hold. In 45 seconds, a service request can be submitted and your team will have all of the vital information they need from the start. No more spending countless hours on the phone tracking down information, and no more frustrated customers stuck waiting on hold.

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ChatGPT and the Dealer Network

ChatGPT and the Dealer Network

Managing Director Ron Slee writes this week about the positives of all of the easily accessible artificial intelligence programs available today with “ChatGPT and the Dealer Network.”

The advent of advanced language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT has brought about a change in basic assumptions in the way businesses operate. In the capital goods industry, ChatGPT is expected to have a profound impact on dealer networks and the behavior of those involved.

One of the ways in which ChatGPT is expected to impact the capital goods industry is by improving the efficiency of dealer networks. By providing quick and accurate answers to customer queries, ChatGPT can reduce the response time of dealers, thereby improving the customer experience. Additionally, ChatGPT’s ability to understand and interpret complex technical queries means that dealers can offer better solutions and services to their customers.

Another way in which ChatGPT will impact the capital goods industry is by enabling personalized experiences for customers. ChatGPT’s ability to understand the context and intent behind customer queries means that it can tailor its responses to the specific needs and preferences of each customer. This will allow dealers to offer more personalized and relevant solutions, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

ChatGPT will also have a significant impact on the training and development of dealer networks. By providing real-time, accurate answers to technical queries, ChatGPT can serve as a valuable resource for dealers to expand their knowledge and skills. This will lead to better-informed and more confident dealers, who can offer more value to their customers.

Furthermore, ChatGPT has the potential to transform the way capital goods dealers manage their inventory. By analyzing customer data and predicting demand, ChatGPT can help dealers optimize their inventory levels, reducing waste and improving profitability.

In conclusion, the advent of ChatGPT is set to have a profound impact on the capital goods industry and its dealer networks. By improving efficiency, enabling personalized experiences, supporting training and development, and optimizing inventory management, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the way dealers do business and serve their customers.

The time is now.

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Are We In a Golden Age of Information?

Are We In a Golden Age of Information?

Are we in a Golden Age of information? I have to admit that I am being spoiled almost every single day. Every day, 99% of everything I can think of for which I do not know the answer I can find the answer. It is remarkable. I can Google darn near everything and find it. I can search through a “magnifying glass” on most of the website I use. I don’t have to go to the library or “call a friend.”

So that is a wonderful thing. I can get answers to almost all of my questions. But there are several questions I still struggle with on a daily basis. The most important one is “WHY?”

And no, the answer is NOT why not. That is much too easy. It is being lazy. Although I still think I have lazy tendencies most people don’t equate the word “lazy” with me. I do too many things, poorly perhaps, but a lot of things get done. Every day. And be fair to yourself too. You get a lot done every day as well.

But the WHY questions haunt me. Constantly. I have been cursed I suppose because I never got over the “why” phase of my life when I was growing up. Do you remember those days yourself? Why is the sky blue? Why is clear water in a lake black? Or as George Carlin made famous “why do we park in a driveway and drive in a parkway?”    

Alex Schuessler coined a phrase I can’t get out of my head. We have gone from “Paper to Glass.” We have taken most “computer improvements” and moved from a six-part paper form (PAPER) we filled in with a pen and put the document on a computer screen (GLASS).

 I have been involved with computerization all my work life. I took “computer science” as a minor at university. We used punch cards, FORTRAN and COBOL programming languages. I wanted to get a job as a computer programmer but IBM wasn’t hiring when I finished school. When I started in the business in 1969. I was hired to find and fix a problem with a computer software installation. The Parts Inventory, which was managed with a “Double Exponentially smoothly Poisson mathematical statistics model (Phew). I didn’t know it at the time but that turned out to be an unbelievably wonderful opportunity for me both professionally and personally.

Of course, we found the problem and fixed it. From that point on I was put into areas where there were some problems or difficulties or situations that needed to be solved. Looking back, I couldn’t have designed a better training program for my work life as a consultant. I was involved in “CQI” – Continuous Quality Improvement or “TQM” – Total Quality Management right from the beginning. Typically, however, is I had a question that I needed to have answered I either had to ask someone and they gave me their opinion or I had to start my own research. I did both and I had many men who were mentors or helped me along the way.

So today I don’t need to ask anyone other than my phone or my computer. But the WHY question still lurks out there.

I talk to a lot of people in the industry. I talk to leaders, managers, workers everybody. They are normally asking me questions. As in my classes and our employee development business, Learning Without Scars, I use the Socratic method of teaching. I rarely answer questions. I typically flip the question and ask what the person asking the question thinks is the answer. And normally they have a very good answer. BUT they lack confidence. That is a learned response. When we challenge the status quo, and want to make a change. There are a lot of people that are vested in the current methods and approaches. They dismiss your ideas out of hand. Many times, they make it personal and disparage you. In a normal manner we start complying and fitting into the current mode of doing things. That is really disappointing to me.

As a consultant I am being paid for my opinions. As an employee you are being paid to do a job. There is a real difference there. Happily, those days are coming to an end. We are on the cusp of a generational change in almost all aspects of our society and workplace. The Alpha Generation, Gen Z and Gen X and even the younger millennials will not accept the status quo. That is part of the reason for what Sonya Law calls “The Great Reshuffle.” That is what we call in America the “Great Resignation.” That somehow changes the onus of responsibility, doesn’t it? It isn’t because we wanted to have a more challenging job. It is that we quit.

We have many opinion surveys, from watching television with the Nielson ratings to the famous Gallup Polls. We seem to want to have reasons for everything. We want to understand why things happened. Gallup says that employees are leaving their jobs because they don’t feel that they are engaged at work in what they do. I liken that to a tool box. An employee has a “task” that needs to be done. They define the kind of tool that is required to perform the task. Think of a job description and performance standards and job prerequisites. They interview people for the job. They hire the person that they think is best for the job. In my way of thinking they “bought a tool” to perform the task. Then someone teaches them (they call it on the job training) how to do the job. Then they have the employee practice it and get faster and faster at it. They want efficiency in performance. That means speed. Then business establishes performance criteria – they call them metrics, for what productivity should be for any specific aspect of their businesses. One common metric is sales per employee. This is measured in terms of currency. Money. And the common thinking is that the higher the number the better it is. That might be applicable in some areas but how do you think it works in a customer service environment? The higher the sales per employee, that means there will be fewer people to do the job. That means customers will wait. It first became evident to me when we introduced “Call Waiting.” The phone would ring and ring because we didn’t have enough people to answer the phone. Do you remember “Can I put you on a brief hold?” Then we got to “Voice Mail.” We were told there would be a wait but would you like to leave a message and someone will call you right back. Remember that? Then I found some dealers had a radio type of message running while the customer was on hold. Some dealer actually had every call listen to the commercial before the call was answered. I was only 30 seconds that won’t hurt anything. Who are we trying to satisfy here? The company or the customer.

I am asked often – “why aren’t customers loyal anymore?” Or I hear “Customer Loyalty is a thing of the past” To both comments I ask – “What have we done to make our customers loyal to us?” 

My conclusion is that we haven’t done very much to make our customers loyal.

Yes, we are in the Golden Ago of information. We can get answers to almost all of our questions. We still don’t have the answers to the most important questions. What does our customer want and need and desire? Until we start focusing on those questions pertaining to our share of the after-market business, parts and labor, will continue to decline. And please don’t forget. That is where you make all of your money.

I would hope that there is a tingling somewhere in your body. YOU are at RISK. Unless we start to concentrate on making our customers happy more than we concentrate on making money WE all will be at RISK. I think we need to get to work.

The Time is Now.

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Going Digital Post-Pandemic

Going Digital Post-Pandemic

Guest writer Mets Kramer brings his digital knowledge to readers in “Going Digital Post-Pandemic.” 

Much has been written about what’s happened over the past 2 years due to the pandemic.  It has affected millions of people in countless ways.  As we near the end of this time, most people will return to working the same way they did before the pandemic and many will wonder why the change, they saw over the last 2 years didn’t last. Why didn’t the transition to working from home, hybrid or flexible work stick around.   A year ago, in the middle, many people talked about how we would never go back, and yet we are.  

A friend of mine owns a staffing company, when the pandemic started, they, like most, sent all their staff to work from home.  After a few months he made a bold move, he closed and sold the office.  He and his leadership team fully embraced the new remote work culture.  They made the decision that working remotely was more than just a pandemic need, but a viable long-term solution.  Then they did something even more rare, they implemented countless changes to their business process and structure to support making remote work successful.   Selling the office was one major incentive but realizing there was a need to adjust how they worked was the most significant change. 

Unfortunately, this disciplined and proactive approach was something many equipment dealers failed to do.  Most companies, in general, cobbled together just enough digitization of their workflow to keep the business running, they didn’t COMMIT to digital processes.   What’s interesting about going digital is the process is the same with or without a pandemic.  To go digital requires a commitment to think digital first, the pandemic just gave us a golden opportunity to justify the change and see it work. 

When the pandemic started, I was largely surprised how many dealers simply “battened down the hatches” of their company ship.  Rather than solving the problems of not seeing their customers in person they simply went back to doing things in the way they “knew” even though everyone was ready to justify a newer approach.   One key area was equipment marketing and sales.  

For most dealers their approach to listing, presenting and promoting their equipment hasn’t changed.  They provide limited amounts of information through traditional platforms.  Yet we have countless examples of how, without the ability to visit the machine in person, video and more complete machine descriptions helped dealers sell machines even at the height of the pandemic.   Customer committed to buying machines from digital information alone, but how many dealers have embraced this and continued it.

In service, I still see a similar lack of digitization where the justification and solutions were abundant.  How many shops still collect paper timecards post pandemic?   There are countless digital service report and payroll timecard systems, paper timecards should have gone the way of the “Dodo,” yet without a conscious commitment to going digital, they have remained the norm. 

Some dealers have embraced this change, they have looked for way to allow they coordinators and admins to work remote and still be efficient by transforming their workflows into digital.   The amazing thing is, this change is exactly the change needed to meet modern customer expectations for a “digital first” experience.   Implementing digital sales delivery platforms like CRM enable digital engagement with customers and simplify sharing digital documents with customers.  Digital service reports and work order scheduling enables integration with customer facing websites to view work order status and communicate the work performed.  In many ways digitizing service departments creates the level of quality service history that justifies a 10% increase in sales prices, at a minimum. 

Going digital, becoming a digital dealership, requires a commitment from management to rethink workflows.  The benefit is a more flexible work environment, a more efficient process and better digital information to support higher prices.   Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen automatically. 

As we near the end, while many dealerships haven’t changed, many things have.  First and foremost, the customer expectations have changed.  Customers have experienced a new world for the past 2 years and many have sought out digital solutions to their one processes, and found it was possible.  This changing expectation adds to generally improved digital options in all areas of life and generational change.  Customers have tasted the digital future and will only want more.   

The second major lingering change is the expectations of employees.  2 years ago, you sent them home to work remote, urgently trying to keep the business going.  They adjusted their lives and saw a future of less commuting and more focused work.  While it doesn’t work for everyone in every role it changed the expectation of what was possible.  Now it’s up to management to change too.

My concern for many companies is management.  For those managers that didn’t rethink their workflows to support a true digital process.  For those that didn’t commit.  For those that didn’t learn to understand what their teams did all day, the urge to bring people back to the office full time will kill their opportunity to digitize their business.  They will have missed the most significant opportunity in their generation.  

One final example of digitization post-pandemic, online parts sales.  How many dealers who had online parts sales before the pandemic, saw an increase in online orders?  How many dealers saw an increase in orders by phone, email and text?   Your customers can buy almost everything they want digitally in their personal life or even for business, yet countless dealers still have not formalized online parts options.  Most dealer sites still have, at best, a form for parts order requests on their website.  Most dealer websites still only have a parts page with a phone number.  It’s time to commit and invest in going digital first, to becoming a Digital Dealership, your customer’s expectations have changed, as have those of your employees. 

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Data Automation and AI Analytics

Data Automation and AI Analytics

Today, we are proud to introduce a new guest writer. C. Stephen Clegg is a Managing Director at Winsby Inc. where he oversees the analytics division, Zintoro. He’s developed an AI model that shows exactly what your company’s strength and weaknesses are, based on your past three years of invoice data. The model is trained to predict where your revenues, customer retention, and purchase frequency are headed if nothing changes in your approach. It also provides the ROI on Winsby’s marketing programs, according to your customers’ purchases. In his debut blog for Learning Without Scars, he writes about data automation and AI analytics.

Data Automation and AI Analytics

Today, data automation and AI analytics is available for equipment dealers to easily service their
customers by identifying what defines the best customer service to drive profitable growth. The
days of opinions, intuition and guessing to make business decisions are in the past.
These automated and AI driven systems are affordable to almost every dealer of any size to
compile metrics into simple actionable real time reports and forecast the future. This approach
allows management and employees at every level to focus on what the customer needs and
expects while anticipating what resources will be required in the future. The ROI on these
programs is paid for many times over with reduced operating, sales, and marketing costs.
The equipment industry is extremely cyclical and seasonal. Most equipment dealers do not have
the tools, key metric reports and forecasting programs to take action and make intelligent
decisions in a timely manner. They often rely on subjective metrics that are not linked to
measurable operating and financial results. The lack of usable data causes management to be
reactive and always scrambling to solve the latest unanticipated problem.
Successful equipment dealers use AI automated systems and reports to monitor and solve their
major customer service and customer engagement issues which include: employee engagement
with customers, internal operating performance metrics, customer retention and engagement,
and identifying and closing sales opportunities.
If you do not have accurate operating and financial information, you will be unable to allocate
your time and resources effectively to the activities that will keep your dealership profitable and
support your future growth.
Programs such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) Analytics shows you what you can
expect in your business over the next 12 months. It forecasts the number of transactions, the
number of active customers, and the expected revenues with an accuracy that exceeds 95%. It
also provides specific recommendations on how to improve your growth. This data can be
analyzed by department and by location, as well as overall.
The platform identifies customers that are at risk of being lost and tracks key metrics on a rolling
12-month basis, shows and tracks the key metrics that drive your company’s growth and
identifies leads for your sales reps.
By understanding your potential for growth and your current market position, the program
identifies the areas where you are falling short and where you excel, producing insights, backed
by data, into how to grow effectively and efficiently. The program is also able to identify what
tools are working and which customers are at risk of leaving, and it shows the markets and
industries you need to target to grow your business profitably.

The reports clearly identify sales reps, departments and customers that require attention, so you
have an easy-to-follow road map for growth using the key metrics and forecasts.

Some of the core key metrics reports used by successful equipment dealers include:
o Forecast and actual results for revenue, transactions, and active customers by
customer, department, branch and overall
o Sales retention leads for your sales reps to contact—customers in danger of being
o Comparative rankings for branches and sales representatives
o Market Industry Analysis with the greatest opportunities
o ROI on sales and marketing programs

The following is an example of a Revenue ROI report for marketing programs, such as calling
prospects and customers and sending information to them, distributing emails, and conducting
customer satisfaction surveys, removing the guesswork from whether your marketing and sales
programs are working.

The equipment industry is a difficult business to operate., an AI analytics program,
allows you to plan and focus on building your business versus always struggling to react to
customer demands.

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Everything Seems Obvious in Hindsight!

Everything Seems Obvious in Hindsight!

Chris Kohart has over 30 years of direct management experience in the heavy construction equipment distribution industry and more than a decade in the technology sector directly supporting equipment dealers globally. Chris is Principal of C.A. Kohart & Associates, a management and marketing consulting firm dedicated to equipment dealerships, private equity investment firms working within the industry, as well as OEM’s and industry solutions providers.  He brings substantial knowledge in all aspects of dealer management, product support, sales, financial planning, cost control, operations, customer retention, and the technology that best fits their needs. Chris possesses a unique ability to translate conceptual models into specific processes and growth strategies, increasing operations excellence. Tonight, he shares some of his thoughts on technology in “Everything Seems Obvious in Hindsight!”

The thirty-plus years in dealership management roles and twelve years in the IT world supporting dealers globally has provided me with an understanding of how dealership management views the “digital transformation” revolution. No matter the location or the size of the dealership, the concerns are always very similar: our dealership management platform is not ideal, but we know how it works (or we think we do), and we don’t have the time (or money) to make a change; we’ve asked our customers what they want, and the resounding reply is that we need to be leading with current technology to manage their fleet and their business successfully. 


How do we get the dealership to the point where we’re giving our customers (they are our business partners) what they need while removing some of the constraints placed on our business by the current business system? How do we accomplish this without breaking the bank or severely limiting operations while the conversion takes place?  It’s an extraordinarily complex and challenging process to undertake, but very necessary. Here are suggestions for basic first steps before making a decision:


  1. Ask your business partners:  
    1. Do you use our online tools now? If not, why not?
    2. How do we improve our current digital offerings to you? 
    3. What can we add to our digital presence to better serve you? 
  2. Audit your current business system: 
    1. Are you using your existing software to its capacity? 
    2. What functions that are available in your solution are you not using and why?
    3. Can we find a way to utilize/optimize the functions we are not using? Why not?
    4. What are other software programs used within your dealership today? Why are these functions not being completed within your business system?
  3. Does your current solution incorporate integrations with?
    1. OEM’s: (e.g., whole goods and parts ordering, warranty claim and reconciliation, telematics, standard repair hours, machine intelligence)
    2. Your financial institution, credit card processing, sales tax management, purchasing solutions such as Ariba
  4. Map out and identify every single software package deployed within your dealership. 
    1. “One-offs” that may only be used by one or two individuals.  
    2. Understand why these are being deployed separately instead of completing the process within your business solution.  The higher the number, the greater the chance you are either on the wrong solution, or your people do not fully understand how to utilize your current solution. 
  5. Are your internal reporting capabilities able to meet current requirements?
    1. How many reports run automatically every month? How many are necessary?
    2. Are your people able to quickly generate ad-hoc reports?
    3. What reports are mission-critical for the growth and success of the business?
      1. How do we deliver them?
  6. Review your three and five-year business plans: will your current software support the organizational and market changes you plan to accomplish?


If the results to the above points are all positive, and you’re using few, if any, “one-offs,” you are in good shape. However, if the results indicate your current business system is lacking, you should begin preparing to either upgrade or replace it.  Here are some thoughts on decision-making steps to take (in parallel):

  1. Upgrade or replacement:
    1. Does your current solution provider offer a more up-to-date version of the software you’re currently using?  If so, that may be the most cost-effective solution to your problem.
    2. Begin understanding the solutions on the market that fit your dealership today and where you plan for your dealership to be in five years
  2. Cost of transformation (over five years)
    1. Pre-selection costs (all due diligence expenses)
    2. Software (including enhancements and support)
    3. Hardware (servers, upgraded laptops/desktops)
    4. IT services (either internal or contracted) to support the entire IT landscape
    5. Implementation services (everything from data migration to employee training to go-live and post-go-live support)
    6. Add 30% to the above as projects rarely are completed on time or within the original budget
  3. Effects on your customers, employees, and daily operations:
    1. What are the positive and negative effects of staying on your current solution vs. upgrade or replacement?
    2.  How do we accentuate the positive and mitigate the negative?
  4. Net long-term benefits to the dealership
    1. What customer-facing improvements do you require? (Suggestion – for now, stick with the absolute “must-haves”)
    2. What operational efficiencies (ROI) will you gain (people, time, customer satisfaction)
  5. Dealership Processes:
    1. Identify and understand every process in all departments.  This evolution will create the hierarchy for new solution requirements and provide you with a map to compare dealer management solutions accurately.
    2. Chances are, there are many different variations of each process in your dealership today. Your dealership needs to conform to one set of standard processes for every area of the business. Enforce the golden rule of the “standard process,” and your eventual upgrade/replacement will run smoother, and the operating efficiencies gained will be enormous. Your process maps can also become the basis for employee training and system reference, reducing training time and cost.

Replacing your dealer business system while operating your business is difficult but possible if the proper planning is done and expectations are set within your dealership and with your business partners. There are no universal or straightforward answers in making these decisions. If you decide to seek outside help, many qualified individuals can help guide you successfully through the process.  There are plenty of ERP selection consultants; make sure the firm you engage has a track record of working with dealers your size and that they fully understand the industry.

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Keeping Up-to-Date and Current in a Learning Business

Keeping Up-To- Date and Current in a Learning Business

I read this article recently and wanted to share it with all of you. It presents some interesting perspectives on employee development and learning. I hope you enjoy it.

To adapt to technology disruptions and meet the modern-day learners’ demands, many organizations are looking at modernizing their existing learning material.

But modernization is not only about repackaging an ‘old wine in a new bottle’, but it should ideally be looked at as a transformational strategy to deliver business results by creating new and unique experiences for the learners. In fact, it should be embraced as an opportunity:

  • For business leaders to align strategic objectives
  • For L&D heads to transition from a culture of training to a culture of learning
  • For HR as an ongoing upskilling initiative
  • For people leaders to provide learning in the flow of work

Having said the above, modernization comes with its fair share of challenges. In order to arrive at a robust and proven modernization framework that can be successfully implemented, it is absolutely essential to spend efforts on understanding the key factors that are driving the need for modernization. Here are a couple of factors that could be considered while designing a modernization strategy:

Technology disruptions

There are multiple technology disruptions that are happening all around us. Technology in itself has undergone numerous transformational processes impacting the way learning is delivered, perceived, and consumed. While organizations need to leverage technology to meet the need of the hour; the modernization strategy has to factor in this reality by future-proofing the content for new technological disruptions.

Skill Gaps

The Covid 19 pandemic has suddenly accelerated the need for new workforce skills. According to a new McKinsey Global Survey on future workforce needs, nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organizations either face skill gaps already or expect gaps to develop within the next five years. Owing to the new generation of learners and needs of modern-day workplace, new skill areas are popping up regularly. Closing on the skills gap and enabling employee growth should be one of the strategic themes of the modernization initiative.

The Modern-day Learner

The profile, preference and habits of learners keep on changing because society, workplace, and technology continue to evolve. While the modernization initiative should account for the needs of the modern-day learner, it should not be limited just to millennials and Gen Z. It should be more holistic, starting right from the baby boomers.


As content owners, one of the key things is to ensure that we are able to maintain content that we are developing. For instance, a pharma company has to ensure that the content is updated as per latest FDA regulations. The other aspect of maintenance is the variety of technology infrastructure that is being used to deliver content. Today you might have a SCORM LMS in place and you design and develop content for it, but tomorrow, if an xAPI compliant LMS comes into picture, the requirement would be to pass data into the Learning Record Store (LRS) of the LMS. The modernization strategy should account for such technology changes and make content available in a format which could be easily transitioned.

Have you come across any other factors which might be driving the need for content modernization? You can write to us at and we would be happy to have a conversation.

The author of this article, Rahul, is a digital learning enthusiast and is passionate about helping organizations and leaders solve challenges around learner engagement and student outcomes through intervention of learning technologies. In a career span of over 15 years in the digital learning space, he has helped a host of global organizations and educational institutions in implementing new initiatives around their digital learning strategy.

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The Hidden Revolution in the Equipment Industry

The Hidden Revolution in the Equipment Industry

With 20+ years of business system design and business intelligence experience, Dale Hanna founded Foresight Intelligence in 2009 to help leading equipment dealers achieve operational excellence and a sustainable competitive advantage through effective use of real time KPI’s throughout the organization. Recently, Dale has added telematics to his passion and is enjoying the challenge of making oceans of disparate data useful to manufactures, dealers, rental companies, and end customers.  Dale obtained a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and has been engaged in many associations serving the equipment industry. In his first guest blog for Learning Without Scars, Dale writes about the hidden revolution taking place in the equipment industry.

Technology is driving a revolution in the equipment industry that we can easily see: grade control, idle tracking, fault codes, autonomous equipment, electrification, etc. While the advancements are amazing and will continue to be, dealers are noticing brand differentiation becoming more and more of a challenge. In this margin-conscious market, we see the battle of the future being fought on customer experience and we see technology is quietly but rapidly driving that revolution.

This hidden revolution is happening in all areas of dealership operations.  Today we focus on how technology is increasing efficiency and enhancing customer experience in the service area, especially during this time of unprecedented labor and parts shortage.

Below are strategies that are giving some equipment dealers a leg up:

 Increasing Trust from Your Customers

We all know trust is a vital ingredient in delivering a great customer experience.  If you are like me, I used to think building trust was an elusive and subjective endeavor.  Chris Voss, a lead FBI hostage negotiator, gave us a formula to build trust quickly and predictably:

Trust = Predictability.

A system that can be configured to your workflow to automatically notify customers at key milestones creates a predictable service experience every time without adding more work for your people.  Yes, UPS and FedEx have perfected this.  You know exactly where your packages are all the time and the moment they are delivered.  It is hard to imagine any shipping company being able to survive without it.  Our expectations for the service experience are quickly reaching the same level.

Doing Business at the Speed of Text

When we do not get an email response from someone, what do we do? We text. According to a research report, on average, people respond to a text in 90 seconds and an email in about 90 minutes.  Adding an integrated SMS (text) platform is like adding nitrous to your service engine.  A fully integrated text platform notifies your customers of progress, provides new quotes, gets instant sign off for additional work, shares inspection results and obtains satisfaction survey results at lightning speed. All the communication history is saved for future reference. With the busy schedule your customers have, who would not appreciate a faster ride?

Self Service Makes Happier Customers

The pandemic has accelerated a trend that was already happening – we want to do more things online, by ourselves, at whatever hours we want, without having to wait on anyone.  Providing information your customers need, in the forms they need, always accessible makes them feel informed and in control, both are important elements for happiness.  A robust dashboard, easy to use interface, searchable/sortable/exportable data and schedulable reports keep your customers smiling while your people sleep.

Have Your Process Your Way

A lot of service systems were built based on someone else’s ideas, usually from the first few customers the system makers had. Your workflow is what makes your people efficient, and your organization stand out. Today’s technology allows an effective system to adapt to you rather than the other way around. Dynamic dashboards by user and role, quick and easy work order assignment and tracking, Apps for field technicians to easily add comments, pictures/videos, inspections can be required and enforced as a part of your workorder process are all examples of how today’s systems serve you the way you do business.

We Are More Powerful When We Are Connected

So are data and systems. At dealerships, we still use multiple systems to get things done. The last thing we want to add is another siloed system. Any service system today should connect with your OEM system for fault codes, warranty information and even submission, your telematics system for real time dispatching, customer’s telematics system for asset location and hours, maintenance management system to organize all the maintenance plans you sold and your business system for cost and PO information. The more your systems are connected, the more efficient you become.

The current pandemic will end for sure, but our world has changed forever. If we look at carefully, there is an undeniable trend – tech rich companies have done better in general, some has done exceptionally well and taken sizeable market share from competitors during COVID 19. This trend is definitely here to stay. Technology is not only changing things we can see and buy, but it is also changing the way we perform and experience service. Customers will certainly buy more equipment, especially with the new infrastructure bill, and whoever delivers the best customer experience will have the bigger share.

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