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Looking outside our industry for business lessons

Instead of benchmarking ourselves against businesses in our own industry, perhaps we would be better served to look elsewhere and see how folks are doing things in industries that are adjacent to ours or even unrelated to what we do.

I was chatting with someone the other day who is a dealer in the lawn care and snow removal equipment industry. We got to talking about what motives someone to do business with one company over another. His contention was that people come to a lawn care equipment dealership for two reasons: a product and a relationship.

It is up to the equipment manufacturer to provide a quality product and for the dealer to deliver on the relationship, he explained.

Where have I heard that before?

He could have easily been talking about the trucking industry. It seems there are a great deal of similarities between trucking and other businesses.

This guy talked about how landscapers who purchase equipment from him are concerned about things like durability, reliability and uptime.

Again, where have I heard that before?

This conversation got me thinking about what else we can learn from industries other than trucking. One thing we might consider: instead of benchmarking ourselves against businesses in our own industry, perhaps we would be better served to look elsewhere and see how folks are doing things in industries that are adjacent to ours or even unrelated to what we do.

If your goal is to build strong relationships with customers so they come back after the sale for advice, service and eventually additional sales, then maybe we need to ferret out the businesses that are doing an exceptionally good job of that. It does not necessarily have to be the big well-known names like Lexus, Ritz-Carlton, Zappos and Disney. Maybe it is a small local business in one of the markets you serve that you know does an excellent job.

If it’s one of the big, well-known companies, do some research on them to find out what their business model is. That’s easy enough to do with a Google search. If it is someone local, buy them a cup of coffee and pick their brain about the steps they take to exceed customer expectations.

I think sometimes in trucking we get too insular and only look at what others in our industry are doing. With spring approaching, now seems like a good time to embark on taking a wider view of customer service and see what lessons we can learn from other businesses, both big and small.

I’d love to hear what you find out.

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