This article first appeared on Truck Parts & Service.
Data. For many small business owners, Lindsay Duran says it’s the great unknown. She says all business owners know they have data, and most are in agreement they need to use it better. But how?
Duran acknowledges that’s not an easy question to answer, yet next month at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) 2020 in Grapevine, Texas, she’s going to give it a try.
During her breakout workshop, the Zilliant chief marketing officer says she plans to bring her experience and expertise regarding collecting and analyzing data for businesses to help distributor attendees better understand the data they have and how they can put it to use in their business. Duran says she knows she won’t be able to answer every attendee’s questions during her workshop — data is too broad of a topic to solve in a month, let alone 45 minutes — but she does plan to reveal some universal truths and misconceptions about data that she’s optimistic will be able to help attendees to take the right first steps toward answering their larger data questions.
Duran says one of those misconceptions is actually good news, and something she wants to convey to the aftermarket community before it even arrives in Texas. When it comes to data, Duran says nearly every business has loads more of it than they realize — though it doesn’t take a lot of data to be able to make a big impact on a business.
She says one of her goals next month will be to convey that reality to the aftermarket attendees and provide examples of “low-hanging fruit” data that can easily be harvested and used in a business.
“I will be framing my recommendations in terms of what companies are capable of taking on,” she says. “I think all too often people have this feeling that their data or IT systems aren’t perfect, so they can’t possibly begin using their data until they improve those systems.”
Duran says that’s not the case. Improving one’s IT department and data collection abilities are never a bad thing, but they’re also not a requirement for integrating data into business strategies.
Another topic Duran hopes to tackle at HDAW is how data can refute common business practices rooted in tradition.
“Companies should never accept something as ‘this is the way it’s always been done’ because no one has quantified if that’s the way things should be done,” she says. “How much money do companies lose due to things being done the same way they’ve always been done?”
In the aftermarket, Duran says this status quo business strategy is most harmful when it comes to pricing. Too many businesses are still using pricing structures and offering discounts based on antiquated business plans. Duran is quick to note that not all of these plans are wrong, but until they are evaluated using current business data, there’s no way for business owners to know if the plans they put into practice years ago are still working properly.
Duran also will touch on the importance of communication when integrating data analysis into a small business. Using pricing as an example, Duran says sales associates and their managers should understand why a pricing structure has been altered and how it will benefit them and the business. Failing to do so can reduce employee buy-in and minimize the benefits of the change.
“When you’re thinking about how [data] can help your team make better decisions, you have to give them very specific actions. Things they can take into their work every day to create sustained behavior changes,” she says.
Duran’s breakout session will be held twice, from 9:30-10:15 a.m. and 10:30-11:15 a.m. CT, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, during HDAW.