MARCH 2010
Salvaging Millions

Four things you can do right now to make business better

As owners of small businesses, most of us are thinking about low cost ways to get and keep profitable customers. Here are a few of the things that I have been doing to get more business or to improve customer experience for ventures that I manage:

•Create a written business plan with quantifiable goals and realistic timetables. I operate all of my businesses with a clear vision of where I will be in one year, three years, and five years. I know that many of you do good annual planning and work from a written business plan that you re-visit and adjust regularly. However, in my many years of small business consulting, I have found that more than a few owners of small businesses don’t take the time to write out a business plan. If you haven’t got one, do it today!

•Get active or more active in your industry’s association. One of the primary reasons that I was so successful in the auto recycling business was the work I did as a founder and member of our industry association. Being in the company of owners within the same industry forces you to think strategically. Membership exposes you to different perspectives and yields valuable connections.

•Search out best practices and implement them: I prospered in the recycling industry because I was part of a small group of salvage yard owners that met twice a year to compare metrics and share best practices. Sharing metrics revealed which of us were doing better at dismantling cars, turning over parts, making deliveries, etc. Participants served non-competitive markets and shared best practices freely. What I learned every six months as a participant in that group showed up every month in my bottom line. I have teamed with experts from a variety of industries to start such industry specific groups and will be adding more in the coming months.

•Create or improve your referral program and publicize it among your best customers: The vast majority of referrals come from established clients. Are you getting a steady stream of new business from these customers? Its fine to invest in attracting new customers, but don’t forget to cultivate the ones who helped you get where you are. Examine your existing referral program, and talk with your customers about ways to make it better.

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Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.