Question:   What is one thing you've done  recently that has helped you be more efficient, productive and profitable?


A. “Two things come to mind: #1. We have tried to do a better job with pictures and descriptions on our website for used equipment. #2. While working with a customer a while ago (during hay season when she was pressed for time), I asked if she needed to get going and continue the conversation later. She answered, ‘Let’s get this done now. I do not have time to do it later.’ ”

— Gene Saville, Lamb &Webster, Springville, N.Y.

A.“Putting profits back into the business by updating our facility and assets. The excitement of doing updates in the store gives customers a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling that we are going to be around in the future. This creates more sales which, in turn, is creating more jobs. Most companies today are not putting any money in their infrastructures or into their employees. Instead, they are putting it in their execs’ pockets. What short-term thinking!”

— Melanie Leckler, Leckler’s, LaSalle, Mich.

A.“The one thing I did to be more efficient, productive and profitable was to take the opportunity to further my business education by enrolling in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Taking the time to work on my business by developing a ‘doable’ 5-year forecast and detailed business plan will allow us to tighten up what is good, fix what is broken and explore new opportunities.

Using the guidance and resources of this program, we have already made a critical change to the way we take in and write up service orders, which will contribute to greater efficiency, more production and increased profit. We do what we do well and the addition of formal business training will be the vehicle to drive our growth going forward.”

— Laura Toro, Toro’s Lawnmower, Garden & Chain Saw Center, La Crescenta, Calif.

A. “Analyzing all sales history from the past 6 years to study growth, purchasing pattern, and profit margins has given me an accurate guide as to where we’ve been, where we stand, and where we need to be going. This helps when making all pre-season orders and planning for 2014.”

— Jas Wilkes, Louisburg Tractor, Louisburg, N.C.

A.“Learning and starting to utilize our CRM program, Handle by CustomerTRAX. It is amazing what you can do with it, including accessing it away from the office via my iPad or Android phone.”

— Jamie Trinchitella, Jr., AgriVision, Glenwood, Iowa

A.“We replaced our indoor lighting under the Small Business Energy Savings program. The program (now expired in our area) gives credit toward the conversion of standard T12 florescent bulbs to the high-efficiency T8 bulbs. Additionally, we were able to cut all of our fixtures down from 4 bulbs to 2 bulbs, with very little change in light output. That makes for some real energy savings that has already paid for our conversion.”

— Bill Anderson, A.A. Anderson, Harvard, Ill.

A.“The most important thing we’ve done is to add the LS Tractor brand. We have also installed a completely new accounting system with new software. It has made a major change in what we are doing.”

— James Dietz, Dietz Tractor, Seguin, Texas

A.“I cleaned up my office area; organized my customer files (somewhat); worked 7 days a week trying to get on top of things. We are a small dealership with limited employees, so I have to do multiple tasks to keep going.”

— David Mills, Mills International, Kinston, N.C

A.“The one thing we have implemented lately that helps profit and productivity is the role of a PSSR, a product support sales representative. This role helps smooth out service flow and keep shop work steady. It also helps us keep a close connection with the customer regarding their service needs. With the service shop running steady, the highs and lows are reduced, which creates service tech productivity and better cash flow.”

— Mark Macko, Delta Power, Seaforth, Ontario

A.“The one thing that we have done as a sales team is to become more focused on using a program called Handle by CustomerTRAX. This program helps all departments know what may be happening to their customer in another department. It helps departments work as a team and actually helps a salesman better manage himself. Handle can be used to schedule follow-up calls as well as for daily, weekly and long-range planning, budgets and quotes.”

— Alan Foy, AgriVision, Glenwood, Iowa