Buying decisions are made for one of five reasons…Reason #1 Price

You know there is no getting away from the fact that we are the solution to our own problems.  Having been in sales for longer than some of you have been alive, I have blamed everything and everyone for poor sales results.  In truth, in the material handling business, I have always had all the tools I needed for success.  I am only now learning how to apply them properly.

The term “value-added” has only recently been added to the business lexicon.  The fact is that it has always been at the top of the reasons that we do business with one person or company over another.  Value, whether real or perceived is what we all seek in transactions. To spend less money or to receive more for the same expenditure drives most transactions.  However, price is only one of five reasons that people make buying decisions.

There are people who make their choice exclusively based on price.  They generally assume that all product is equal in quality or lack there of.  That any deficiency is more than offset by the money they saved.  The value-added truth is that some functional difference in product can more than pay for themselves and there is a “base-price” to get enough built-in quality to be safe.  Safety is a HUGE value.  Sometime these people can only be persuaded after their bad judgemnt has cost their company in actual losses or unfulfilled potential. Companies that buy exclusively on price find themselves constantly working with cheap goods and bad tools.  Employees of that company will gauge their value by the tools they are asked to work with and both the company and employee will be locked in mediocrity, or worse.

There is a “place” called value and it is our job to become expert in finding that value and bringing it to our customers attention.  IT IS THE ONLY REASON THEY NEED US.  We need to know that price is only one of five reasons to buy.

More on the other four after this word from our sponsor…Bluff Manufacturing

December 8.5% of your year

Writing this blog is new to my schedule.  I will try to do better…..and that got me to thinking.

December is an odd month to business.  It represents as much to our annual goals as any other month and yet we treat it differently.  Are you guilty of any of the following….

  • All planning for next year can be done between Christmas & New Year
  • The “twene time” is a good vacation slot
  • We can have company training during this “off” time

It is not that any of the above is wrong, it is that we buy into more that one of them and they conflict with each other.  There are other things we fall prey to including an assumption that our customers are too busy to see us or do work that would include us … so we don’t contact them.

Some things that happen in the work place this time of year that represent opportunities for us might include.

  • Company wide vacations where the maintenance crew is working while the plant is empty
  • Budget money left in facility budget that will be lost at years end
  • End of year adjustments to profit (there are situations where companies try to adjust there profit picture downward … and a good place to spend the money is on facility)

I sure you can add to this list (do so).  Just remember the following “Everybody starts well…winners finish well”.

Happy Selling

Basic Information

My company has been going thru a year long initative on training. We have always trained in our functional areas and even did cross training inside of our departments. We are betting that we can become a better company if we allow all employees the opportunity to learn more about all areas. The more we each understand….the more perspective we have….the better we function. Having said that, a large portion of the reason for this blog is to train. First ourselves, then our dealers and their salespeople and then the public at large about our industry and how it affects each of us. So lets start with a basic knowledge block.

A dock plate is just that. It is a plate made from either aluminum or steel that has no other structure that adds to its ability to carry weight. It is made for handtrucks and other non powered equipment. Each size is assigned a capacity for that specific size driven by span, width and material thickness. They will have legs (in most cases) that lock the plate into place for use and some accomodation for handling. Either hand cutouts or handles.

DockplateA dock board on the other hand is the plate with other structure that adds to the capacity. This is in the form of curbs and sometimes box structure on the underside. There are various methods of fixing the board in place. They include lock legs, drop pins and positioning rings to name a few. The capacities are a function of the plate thickness and the supporting structure and typically range from 10K to 90K.Dockboard

A rail board is a board with a large supporting understructure that serves to keep the board in place while adding to the capacity. It will use lock rings to take up space and insure a snug fit. Each railboard is fabricated for a specific dock/railcar application.


Use standards to your advantage

Sometimes I buy something that is a replacement for something I have owned for a time and have either lost or just worn out. Often I am disappointed that the replacement is not of the same quality as the original. What has happened is that the marketplace has been at work while I was doing other things. Competition, the development of new technology or the dreaded “globalization” has caused the rules to change.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all product change is negative. Often times the “new one” is more functional, has more features or in some other way is a better value. Also, as a culture we have buy-in to the “throw it away and get another” mentality. Actually, that works to our favor in areas of rapidly changing technology. The computer of 5 years ago is not quite up to speed and you find the new polymer replaces the metal on your car without any loss in durability.

What happens when the true value of a product demands a minimum level that cannot be seen and its failure might result in very negative consequences. Enter….stage left…..STANDARDS. Standards are the metrics that allows the public to compare prior to purchase. Many manufacturers have turned to standards to combat cheap and poorly made products. Read the following from Bluff Manufacturing’s reasoning behind development of the new ANSI standard for dockboards and dockplates.

…….“The products of the loading dock industry were historically pretty much the same. The steel or aluminum historically has come from the same domestic sources. Manufacturing techniques and processes were very similar. A lot has changed in recent years in the availability of plate materials. No longer do we have US Steel, Inland Steel, and Lukens as suppliers of heavy steel floor plate. No longer do we have Reynolds and Kaiser as aluminum plate sources. Alcoa has its hands full supplying the aircraft industry. In their place, foreign sources have filled our needs with a variety of aluminum alloys.

It is important therefore to devise standards by which manufacturers can test their products to guarantee that they are as safe as ever……..” Read the full text.

When we buy or sell, standards are important. Remember, sometimes it is OK to sell a cheap product (toy plastic soldiers)…..sometimes its not (bridge carrying a person driving a $30,000 piece of equipment).