SEMA News - August 2009
Bringing the Possible Into the Real World
”I can dream about a SEMA data pool loaded with complete, standardized and accurate data that gets updated into my system automatically every night,” said Bob Moore.
Yesterday, when I unlocked the door to my store, there was a line of people waiting. Fortunately, my two counter people were on time and waiting behind the counter. One was at a point-of-sale terminal, and the other was at the Internet order pick-up desk. Six customers came through the door, and four cued up for Internet pick-up. Nathan, my lead counterman, immediately approached the attractive female and asked if he could help (typical) while I waited on the male customer.
The male said that he was interested in finding a basic running board for his F-150. I asked him what color it was, and he pointed to a black pickup in my parking lot. I stroked a few keys on my computer and then turned the monitor so that my customer could see an image of his black F-150 equipped with an opening-price-point running board.
He leaned in to study the image and said, “Cool.” Before he could ask how much, I said, “If you like that, check this out.”
Again I stroked the keys and showed him a totally tricked out running board with a brushed-gunmetal finish and running lights.
His eyes lit up and he said, “Sweet.” I took this as a buy signal.
A couple of more key strokes, and I let him know that a really great installer down the street had a 3:30 slot open and could install the part on his truck that afternoon. I didn’t bother to tell him that I didn’t have the item in stock, because I knew from my system that our WD could deliver it to the shop by 2:00 p.m.
After I sent the kid on his way with the product ordered and en route to the installer who was holding the appointment, I asked the others how they had done. Nathan had sold the pretty woman a bike rack for her Prius. He told me, “She was impressed when I showed her the installation instructions to illustrate how easily she could install it herself, and the additional information detailing how environmentally friendly the manufacturing process is sealed the deal and she bought right away.”
Eric told me that he had no problems with the Internet-order pick-ups and added, “I was able to sell a kit with that carburetor. The manufacturer’s demo videos and related product tools make it easy to show why using the kit makes the installation easier.”
I did the math in my head. More than $7,500, and I hadn’t even been open an hour yet.
That’s when I woke up and quickly realized that I had to face another day of begging and pleading with my suppliers to get me some product data in a format that I might use to sell their products.
All those things I was dreaming about are so doable, but not without vendors providing me with usable data.
As I sat on the edge of the bed, elbows on knees, shaking my head, I wondered why in the world it is so hard to get suppliers to understand how important this information is. But what frustrates me the most is they have it but keep giving it to me in ways that are unusable. I feel like the shipwrecked guy dying of thirst: Data, data everywhere, and not a byte to use.
Do I have to beat them over the head with a 2x4 to get them to understand? Sending me a PDF with lots of pictures and snappy marketing doublespeak is not data. Giving me an Excel spreadsheet with application information in the description field doesn’t cut it. Why don’t they understand that calling it a Chevy in one place, a Chevrolet in another and a GM in a third only makes my life miserable?
I lay back down on the bed and thought to myself: “Maybe if I go back to sleep, I can dream about a SEMA data pool loaded with complete, standardized and accurate data that gets updated into my system automatically every night.”
Well, I can dream, can’t I?
Bob Moore is the president of Bob Moore & Partners, a consulting company that specializes in the automotive aftermarket. He is also a member of the SEMA Board of Directors and a monthly columnist in Aftermarket Business magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.