The Times They Are A-Changin’
Educate your customer and be ready to back up your product or service.
Hello. My name is Roger. I have a couple of confessions to make. It is time for me to be honest with you. In my last column I told you a bit about myself. Now, I must offer you an insight into the inner Roger.
Confession #1 — When I was in college I played in a rock band. It was the ’60s, and my life revolved around my 1964 vintage Fender Stratocaster guitar. So, my public admission to you is (drum roll): I’m an old rocker who just never grew up. No long hair then. No hair now.
Confession #2 — When I was in the U.S. Air Force, I once had the nickname “The Whistler.” I never realized it, but often a situation would remind me of a song. And before I knew it, I would whistle it. I was even known to play the air guitar when I thought no one was watching. I was caught more than I care to admit.
Why do I need to mention this? Well, you see I want to learn more about what is important to you, the reader of Mobile Radio Technology. So, I invited three highly respected members of the mobile radio community to lunch. Although my purpose was to ask questions, I ended up becoming the “fly on the wall.” My guests conversed as friends who haven’t seen each other in some time. The “war” stories flew. I sat there, entranced, listening to them discuss what the mobile radio world used to be and what it is today. I asked a few questions, but I didn’t need to. I felt like “Grasshopper” in the old TV show Kung Fu.
No ponytails, then or now
As I listened, I noticed that two of my guests had ponytails. My envy, I hope, wasn’t too obvious. I had wanted to grow a ponytail when I was in the rock band. But my dad thought that “only hippies” grew them. I guess my clothes didn’t send the message, “Hey, Dad I am a hippie.” So, because I was a poor musician and student living at home, I acquiesced to no ponytail. Today, I couldn’t grow a ponytail if I started off as Secretariat.
After a highly enjoyable and educational lunch, I found myself whistling Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” No air guitar. Heck, I had to keep my hands free to drive the car and be ready to answer my cellphone.
(OK. Confession #3 — My pet peeve, besides people who haven’t figured out how to use a turn signal, is people driving their cars attempting to use cellphones at the same time.)
The times, they did change
The discussion of my three co-lunchers made it clear that the mobile radio industry has undergone tremendous change. Of the many changes they discussed, the one that stuck out the most was how people do business today compared to 10, and even five, years ago. The same can be said for just about any industry that deals with technology. The creation of need drives the change in other technology markets. That need could be for a new application or capability, or the need to be “now.” (As in, “It’s new. I have to have it now.”)
In the mobile radio market, the need is much the same now as it was 10 years ago. Technology always has an impact, but not to the degree, say, that mobile telephony has seen. The real change is how people do business.
Do you do business differently today than in the past?
- Can’t remember that far back
Do you offer the same product lines and/or services that you did in the past?
- Still waiting for the tubes to warm up
Are your clients as technically oriented as they were in the past?
- Sort of
- Can’t tell a gigahertz from a megahertz
This is a short quiz, but I think you can catch where I’m going. Of course you do not do business the way you used to. No matter whether you are a dealer or an operator (or both), to survive, you have had to change.
At IWCE 2001, I talked with a number of folks about their businesses and how they are approaching them. A few appeared to have stayed the course with little change. As one individual put it, “It’s a good ol’ boys network, anyhow.” This individual was in the minority. Most have had to deal with what technological changes have occurred and the level of experience and expertise their clients have.
The magic answer
No matter the problem, I suppose it’s human nature to look for the path of least resistance or the easy answer. Well, I’m here to offer Roger’s rule for doing business: Educate your customer and be ready to back up your product or service.
Is this too obvious? Most answers are. Yet, there are those, and you’ve met them, who take the “They have to come to us because where else are they going to go?” approach. Use this approach, and one day the customer will tell you where to go. Well, I feel a song coming on.
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam …