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Anonymous Distributor

When did you realize that you wanted to work in the small-engine business? Were you a person who loved tinkering from the time you can remember, or did you acquire a taste for the thrill of repairing a small engine later in your life? Were you that person who could fix anything and everything? Did you start your first job cleaning up a shop, and it became a much bigger part of your life? Or, did you just open your garage and wait for that first repair job.

A.D. had a totally different life before this one and got started in this industry by a strange coincidence. I can’t go into it because my secret identity might be revealed. However, once I got into the industry, I was hooked. If you’ve been involved in this industry for a long time, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed some awesome changes that have led to very interesting products. But with interesting products come interesting education challenges. Do you think the manufacturers and distributors have been able to keep you updated on all the changes being made? If you answered “no,” I’m thinking you are right. However, does all the blame fall on your suppliers?

About 15 years ago, A.D. asked a roomful of dealers for a show of hands for how many of them had Internet. Not even a quarter of the dealers raised their hands. If they did raise their hands, it was dial-up Internet and most had AOL; you might remember AOL as the ones who said, “You’ve got mail.” Ten years ago, A.D. asked the same question of a roomful of dealers, and half of them raised their hands. Fast forward to a year ago, and I am pleased to say that almost all of the dealers indicated they had high-speed Internet in their shops. (And despite being 15 years older, they could still raise their hands!)

So, now that we are in 2018 and have endless online opportunities available, what do you expect from your suppliers when it comes to training? Are you willing to stay up late or wake up early to learn online? Do you prefer to train at your own pace with a recorded training program? Or, are you that person who still believes the live factory updates are the only way to go? Having to leave your shop, lose a day’s work (or more if you have several to attend), and spend money on food and travel doesn’t always make sense. With online courses, you have the cost of the course and no additional charges. So, why wouldn’t you want that? A.D. gets it — change is hard. If you would have told me 10 years ago that we wouldn’t be printing many supplier programs, I would have said you’re crazy. However, we do not print many programs, and we have to educate the dealer how to look for them online. That’s a weak example of change, so let’s try another one. If you would have said I would be A.D. and be responsible for sending OPE an article every month, I would have said you’re crazy, but here we are together each month. Wow, that was lame too, so here is the last example. If you would have said that lithium power would take over the handheld business, hurt parts sales, and work very well, I would have said you’re crazy. But here we are in 2018, waiting for the next new product to show up and sell. (Are you trained on that?) Phew, glad we finally found something relevant as an example of change!

So, back to making money. Making money is hard enough with training, but making money without training is even harder. If you are not trained, you might be spending time on the phone with a supplier tech or online searching for a clue on how to repair something. That is taking time away from making money.

With January now here, you’ll be attending the training classes of your suppliers. Talk to your suppliers about the availability of additional training options to keep you working in the shop. Maybe the suppliers should teach a class on how to make money with online training. Keep your blades and mind sharp, and feel free to e-mail me at OPEMAGAD@gmail.com or Tweet me @OPEMAGAD.

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