Volume 15, Issue 2 - March/April 2013

Customer Service
tips for quality service

It’s Time to Chain Up!
by Carl Tompkins

As we are completing our winter driving season, you may have encountered a time or two when you had to “chain up” in order to proceed down the highway safely. As frustrating as this can be, there is no doubt that driving with tire chains provides the best traction on slippery roads.

In business, we benefit from having the best traction possible as we progress down those sometimes “slippery roads” in the marketplace. A chain, made up of many links, is the image we must remember to best understand what to do to arrive at our targeted destination in the most timely and profitable manner possible.

Linking Up
“Linking” your company to other businesses builds a chain of success. The more links, the greater your traction. Sadly, I commonly see the difficulty “stand alone” glass shops have remaining in business. They don’t have a chain; they are only one link, attempting to survive strictly on their own. However, they’re not the only companies with weak or inefficient chains.

One of the most obvious chains to build within an effective marketing campaign is linking departments within the same company together. There are many glass companies involved in the sale of multiple product lines: flat glass, paint, doors and windows, shower enclosures and commercial glazing. I’m absolutely astonished by the number of companies which have their departments operate autonomously, never conducting cross-selling efforts for one another. Simply consider the math of expanding a market size five-fold; with each department exposing their product line to five other departments—the results can be phenomenal.

How to Do it
Establishing these links through inter-company cross selling first requires ownership’s buy-in and a drive toward accomplishment. Next, establish education for all pertinent personnel to enable them to become knowledgeable on other departments’ products and services. They do not have to become experts but must have a working knowledge of other company offerings, learning how to become aware of cross-selling opportunities and initiating the sale. Applicable department experts can then be called in to complete a sale, then move on to create literature and special promotions to aid in the cross-selling efforts. Finally, institute regular and formal follow-ups. Measure and monitor the progress of these types of inter-company efforts. It helps to sustain momentum and make modifications where necessary.

For stand-alone glass shops and other companies that do not have multiple departments to spur on cross-selling efforts, the same type of links can—and should—be fostered through networking opportunities within a given community. Link up with related businesses such as auto body repair companies, auto dealers and possibly auto repair companies. All of these businesses have a built-in need for your services; you are merely attempting to sell them on using your company when the need arises. It’s a one-way street with you having the marked advantage. Here it’s important to link with only those companies that represent the same quality of products, ethics and service that you provide. Essentially, you’re cross-selling but with other companies rather than inter-company departments.

I would encourage you to consider linking up with organizations that work outside of the auto industry, too. You will discover many new opportunities and customer bases. When working with outside companies, there are five steps to take to connect the links. First, be prepared to discuss the merit for both companies to work together for the mutual good. Secondly, be prepared to share what involvement you have in the community and demonstrate your return value. Thirdly, share and validate your reputation. The fourth step is to mutually design a game plan and make it happen. Finally, be sure to be in touch monthly with all new links in your chain to monitor progress.

Carl Tompkins is the global marketing resources manager for SIKA Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich., and the author of Winning at Business. He is based in Spokane, Wash.

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