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A Franchisee Perspective

When we set out to start a Franchise with the Wheel Specialist 3 ½ years ago, the economy was better, not a lot better but better than now! I had spent 15 years working for a company that had experienced massive growth, starting out as a small entrepreneurial company, dynamic, exciting, adapting and changing as the market and circumstances dictated, and ended up as part of a huge global PLC, bogged down with bureaucracy and had completely lost site of the principles that had made it a success in the first place.

I was being stifled by the company I worked for, I needed to return to the entrepreneurial environment that I had thrived in previously, rather than rely on someone else to give me what I needed I decided to do it for myself.
I looked at a number of different opportunities. The motor trade and cars in general always held a large interest for me, so something car related as a business venture was a no brainer.

I felt The Wheel Specialist offered the right thing for me. It was Brand new at that stage with only Manchester up and running. Whilst some would consider this a bad thing, I felt that being involved whilst the network was in its infancy would allow the right mix of structure and freedom to allow me to run my own business in the way I felt was right, it is a franchise but above all that it is MY Business! Running My Business following a number of fundamental principles that I believe are the cornerstones of a successful business. A Business should live through its principles and all decisions made should abide by them.

Quality

The best quality products are rarely cheap. That is usually because providing that product has associated costs that are inevitably passed on to the customer.
I firmly believe that you get what you pay for! I often say to prospective customers “If you want a cheap job you are in the wrong place” “we don’t do cheap” We can however offer excellent value for money.

Value For Money

Value for money is often misunderstood, it does not mean cheap, it is a fine balance between quality and cost. Customers that have had previous cheaper quotes, usually for inferior work are encouraged to accept these quotes if they are after a cheap job. The quality of work we provide costs.

Customer Experience

The customer is King! They pay us for our services and the money oils the cogs of the business. The customer should enjoy dealing with us, want to come back, and recommend us to others with enthusiasm.

Profitability

This is a business and its here to make money. Balancing costs and income to ensure a profit. There is no point in being hugely busy, completing 15 sets of wheels a day, everybody exhausted and stretched to the limit only to find that there is no profit as all jobs have been discounted to a point that is not economic. You are busy fool!

We try to operate our business following these principles and have achieved some success in doing so. Although I must point out some things we have learnt along the way

Educate the customer

Some customers know exactly what they want and that is that.
Most think they know until they get into conversation with us, we take the time to educate them regarding what we do, we are proud of it after all. We know that if a customer takes the time to visit us to see finishes, understand the process, they are hooked.

This is all part of the experience for the customer, making them feel special.
They come in with one thing in mind but are so impressed with what they see and hear that they often change their minds, a good display hanging on the wall, and various sample wheels to hand pays dividends. Show them examples, In 3 years of trading I have been asked countless times if we do diamond cutting. I could have answered the question simply and said “no sorry”. The customer would have gone elsewhere. I always ask the customer why they want that finish, explain that the finish is fundamentally flawed in that it is trying to fight physics, by making a lacquer stick to a shiny machined finish…………….they all understand the principle and do not wish to repeat the experience they have already had of the lacquer falling off and opt for something else.
I would guess that this one aspect of education has given us at least £40K of business alone.

We have examples of peeling lacquer on hand to show the customer. It is important for the customer to learn, do not assume they know, in fact never assume anything.Always confirm it for yourself.

Differentiation

We are different to the other guys out there, the customer needs to know this. Customers who phone up for a quote have the differences explained to them, often they are “just getting quotes”

We take the time to give them a few key questions they should ask other providers to ensure they are comparing like with like. The other guy may be cheaper but does he do the whole wheel etc.

We also encourage the customer to pop in so we can see there wheels and they can see who we are and what we do. Knowing that if they pop in we have got them. If for some bizarre reason they do not buy, I am confident they will at least tell someone about the great company they popped into today.
We are different, We are Better!

Discount

Discount is a tool to be used for the benefit of the business, It is not a right, or a default setting. Offering a discount too soon without fully understanding the customers needs, communicates to the customer that the price is flexible. Not a good place to start. Prices are there for a reason, because that reflects the costs plus a profit for the business. In my opinion they are not flexible at all, however discretion will be exercised on occasion. To get this into perspective, pop down to the petrol station, or Sainsburys, or right here at the bar, ask how much discount you can get because you are in the motor trade, or because it is Tuesday, of because you are wearing a blue shirt, or because the bloke down the road is a bit cheaper. Customers seem to understand this better when you ask them what they do, “Oh, I work for McDonalds” How much discount will you give me if I buy 2 big Macs? This brings me on to:

Make a difference.
The attitudes, and approaches are completely down to Sarah & I. We are in Charge. We have to make it happen. It is no body else’s fault. It is us that make a difference. We rise to the challenge, and there are many. Every day circumstances differ, those are the hurdles to overcome that day.
It is easy to find excuses, The weather, the economy, the supplier, the customer, the staff, as business owners we have to rise above these daily problems and succeed regardless. This for us is not just a job or a business, it is all consuming, it is a way of life.

The Wheel Specialist Fareham.

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