Tuesday, 21 May 2013
2 companies, both in the business of recycling cars, within 20 miles of each other, family owned and run, and I visited both on the same day – there the similarities end.
Leaving the first company I was enthused and motivated by their passion, vision and energy, I wanted to slit my wrists as I left the second business because I was so depressed.
Completely embracing the internet age, company number 1 has designed a process where the vehicles are dismantled, all parts quality controlled, tagged, imaged and racked, then listed on e-bay and sold. At the time of my visit they had over 12,000 listings on e-bay and were selling in excess of 200 items per day.
When I arrived at company number 2 I was immediately met by de-motivated owners and staff telling me that the business was running on fumes, had no future and was just ticking over; the owners had recently invested in another business and were putting their efforts into that, giving the message to their staff that the auto recycling business was not important to them.
The main question that I came away from this under-performing business was how did this happen? This is a business that has been running for over 30 years, very successfully giving a living to the owners and quality employment to their staff, yet it is now struggling to survive. Unfortunately the negative attitude of the owners didn’t give me any hope for a better outcome apart from closure or sale.
The difference between both companies can be summed up in one word – Vision.
The owners of the first company have a vision of the future where they are a factory that is producing green recycled parts, and sell thousands of parts daily using on-line platforms (e-bay is only one tool that they could use). The other company do not have a vision for a successful future for their business at the moment.
Vision is essential for any business to survive; the vision needs to stretch the staff to perform better, for the company to be more efficient, and for customers to want to return and also to recommend their families and friends to that business.
A vision statement can take a number of months to complete; the vision will be looking 3 to 5 years ahead and show a picture of how the business will look at the end of that time period, it needs to include commitments to profit, turnover and quality, and these must be time specific. The next important action is to provide yearly steps towards the ultimate vision, this suddenly makes the vision realistic and achievable for all the staff, they can see the end of the journey and how they are going to get there.
One of these visits has reassured me that the auto recycling industry has visionary owners and managers, who are not afraid to challenge conventional methods, design new and more efficient processes, change and adapt to new ways of operating; the other visit showed that some owners are not able, or do not want to change from the business plans that their fathers or grandfathers put in place many years ago, and they also cannot understand that if they do not change then there may not be a business to run in the future.