Saturday, July 31, 2010

Henry Ford Said It So Well, It Is Timeless: Be Of Service First

One of the best books I have ever read about business was originally published in 1922 and yet it is as viable and important today as it ever was--and I expect that it will be thus far into the future. Today, I would like to share what Henry Ford called The Creed of the Ford Motor Company. You could think of it like a mission statement (although I laugh at most of those. . .), but it is so much more real and stronger than that. It was the guiding basis of how Henry Ford thought about business and in particular how he felt about being in business as the Ford Motor Company. Here is the quote from his book, My Life and Work by Henry Ford:

The principal part of a chisel is the cutting edge. If there is a single principle on which our business rests it is that. It makes no difference how finely made a chisel is or what splendid steel it has in it or how well it is forged--if it has no cutting edge it is not a chisel. It is just a piece of metal. All of which being translated means that it is what a thing does--not what it is supposed to do--that matters. What is the use of putting a tremendous force behind a blunt chisel if a light blow on a sharp chisel will do the work? The chisel is there to cut, not be be hammered. The hammering is only incidental to the job. So if we want to work why not concentrate on the work and do it in the quickest possible fashion? The cutting edge of merchandising is the point where the product touches the consumer. An unsatisfactory product is on that has a dull cutting edge. A lot of waste effort is needed to put it through. The cutting edge of a factory is the man and the machine on the job. If the man is not right the machine cannot be; if the machine is not right the man cannot be. For any one to be required to use more force than is absolutely necessary for the job in hand is waste.

The essence of my idea then is that waste and greed block the delivery of true service. Both waste and greed are unnecessary. Waste is due largely to not understanding what one does, or being careless in doing of it. Greed is merely a species of nearsightedness. I have striven toward manufacturing with a minimum of waste, bot of materials and of human effort, and then toward distribution at a minimum of profit, depending for the total profit upon the volume of distribution. In the process of manufacturing I want to distribute the maximum of wage--that is, the maximum of buying power. Since also this makes for a minimum cost and we sell at a minimum profit, we can distribute a product in consonance with buying power. Thus everyone who is connected with us--either as a manager, worker, or purchaser--is the better for our existence. The institution that we have erected is performing a service. That is the only reason I have for talking about it. The principles of that service are these:

1. An absence of fear of the future and a veneration for the past. One who fears the future, who fears failure, limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to begin again. There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail. What is past is useful only as it suggests ways and means for progress.

2. A disregard for competition. Whoever does a thing best ought to be the one to do it. It is criminal to try to get business away from another man--criminal because on is then trying to lower for personal gain the condition of one's fellow man--to rule by force instead of by intelligence.

3. The putting of service before profit. Without a profit, business cannot extend. There is nothing inherently wrong about making a profit. Well-conducted business enterprise cannot fail to return a profit, but profit must and inevitably will come as a reward for good service. It cannot be the basis--it must be the result of service.

4. Manufacturing is not buying low and selling high. It is the process of buying materials fairly and, with the smallest possible addition of cost, transforming those materials into a consumable product and giving it to the consumer. Gambling, speculating, and sharp dealing, then only to clog this progression.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Trend Setter Package Client: Star Tech European

Upward Trend announces a new Trend Setter Package client in Star Tech European. Star Tech European is a premier repair facility for most European and Japanese vehicles as well as a great place for American Muscle Car custom work. With Don Westhaver's racing experience, he is perfectly suited for work on your muscle cars from Cobra's to SS396 Malibu's. Don was also awarded the coveted Star Technician Award from Mercedes Benz, awarded to the elite in Mercedes repair.

Here's a little bit more about Star Tech European from their new website:

A Bit of History

Don Westhaver has been working on cars in Vallejo for over 35 years and was shop foreman for the Mercedes-Benz, Porsche dealer in Vallejo for 15 years. He was the recipient of the rare and coveted Star Technician award from the Mercedes-Benz factory. Don also has a great deal of Porsche factory training and has the Audi/VW Quality Control award as well. When that dealership closed, Don decided to go out on his own.

We moved to Vacaville 9 years ago and it began to make more sense to move our business to Vacaville. In January, 2008 we opened for business at our current location. We have been busy ever since with very little advertising and are very pleased that we made the move.

How We Feel About Business

The auto repair business doesn't have the best reputation, so we go the extra mile to build trust. That includes taking extra time to really explain what your car needs and why. Our goal is to give professional, friendly, honest service without the stress and hassle of going to the dealer. We will never sell you something you don't need.

Upward Trend welcomes Don and Clair Westhaver and their team at Star Tech European to the fast growing list of Star Clients for our Trend Setter Package! See more about Star Tech European at

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Trend Setter Package Client: West Coast Truck Equipment

Upward Trend welcomes Jack Schmidt and West Coast Truck Equipment as our newest Trend Setter Package client. West Coast Truck Equipment is a truck body builder and manufacturer located in West Sacramento, CA. Their website is and they can be reached at 916-376-0690.

We are very pleased to have Jack's West Coast Truck Equipment joining our fold and we look forward to moving the needle in their company with our popular, effective and inexpensive package of services.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Trend Setter Package Client: Harbor Truck Bodies

Upward Trend is very pleased to announce that Harbor Truck Bodies, Inc of Brea, CA has become our newest Trend Setter Package client. Upward Trend built Harbor Truck Bodies website ( in January 2008 and has maintained it since that time. Now Harbor Truck Bodies has stepped up to our Trend Setter Package to take advantage of our organic Internet marketing that we kicked off in April of this year. So many clients are finding this service to be so effective, that it has become extremely popular. In fact, we had to add a new graphic designer and webmaster to our fold to handle the additional business. Now it will be our job to do the same for Harbor Truck Bodies.

Harbor Truck Bodies is a large manufacturer of service/utility bodies and a wide range of truck bodies. Harbor has bailment pool vehicles (they stock chassis from the manufacturer to assist dealers in getting units very quickly) for all the major manufacturers, such as Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Dodge and Isuzu Truck.

We will be completely redesigning and updating their already very popular website that is currently getting over 27,000 hits a month. In addition, we will be adding our ever-popular blogs, social networking, SEO (search engine optimization) and more. We think this package will really move the needle for Harbor Truck Bodies and our goal is to do just that.

A special welcome aboard to Harbor Truck Bodies, Inc.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Trend Setter Package Client: Drywall Tool Rentals

Upward Trend is pleased to announce our latest client for our Trend Setter Package: Drywall Tool Rentals. We have found that drywall tools are expensive and that there is a large business in renting those tools. Drywall Tool Rentals takes care of that need and does it for so much less than the main stream of tool rental firms. Drywall Tool Rentals is located in Dixon, CA and delievers--yes, we said DELIVERS--all over Northern California. Their brand new website and other products will be online in just a week or so. In the meantime, you can call them at 707-304-0715.

Welcome Drywall Tool Rentals. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Trend Setter Package Client: Solano Eye Specialists

Upward Trend welcomes Solano Eye Specialists of Vacaville and Fairfield as one of our newest Trend Setter Package clients.

Solano Eye Specialists have two offices, a brand new office in Vacaville at 1360 Burton Drive, Vacaville CA and they can be reached there at 707-446-6500, and an office in Fairfield at 1700 Pennsylvania Ave, Fairfield, CA and that office number is 707-422-6500. From eye surgury to getting a new pair of stylish glasses or contact lenses, Solano Eye Specialists takes excellent care of your needs.

We will have much more about Solano Eye Specialists in the coming weeks.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Trend Setter Package Client: Vacaville Electric

Upward Trend is excited to have Vacaville Electric as one of our newest Trend Setter Package clients.

Owned and managed by Tom Jackson, Vacaville Electric is a fast growing business serving the electrical needs in Vacaville, Fairfield, Dixon and beyond. Vacaville Electric serves residential, commercial and industrial customers electrical needs with over 15 years experience. Vacaville Electric also handles solar and lighting and design. One call can do it all. Call 707-448-8222.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Trend Setter Package Client: D & D Plumbing Heating and Cooling

Upward Trend welcomes D & D Plumbing Heating and Cooling to our list of Trend Setter Clients. Dan Moore, President of D & D Plumbing Heating and Cooling just signed up for our fast growth Trend Setter Package and we look forward to helping them grow their business online.

D & D Plumbing Heating and Cooling serves Vacaville, Fairfield, Suisun City, Vallejo, Dixon and all of Solano County in addition to other areas of Northern California. With seventeen trucks in their fleet, they can service the needs of this large area efficiently and effectively.

We will tell you more about D & D Plumbing in the coming weeks. Welcome!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Help Your Business To Become Child-Like

"Of course, the world is very different in the age of the Internet. But they they thought the same darn thing when the cars came along. They thought the same darn thing when the trains came along. They thought the same darn thing when the canals came along."

-- Tom Peters

Tools change. They sometimes change radically, yet human nature remains. Has the Internet changed business? Yes and no. Yes, it is a new and different way to connect, do business, spread the word, gather and disseminate information. It is one of the more radical changes and something that grew so large and so fast that it was unprecedented. No, it hasn't changed business in the basic sense of business. People still exchange products or services (value) for money (value). The more businesses there are, the more businesses need to be better in order to continue to do business on the Internet--or anywhere else.

Attitudes change. Ever so slowly sometimes. They call those slowly people in today's vernacular, late adopters. I can relate to them. I've been one. Still am I suppose. My cell phone is 4 years old when the average cell phone in the United States is stated as less than 18 months old. I figure I'll catch up sometime soon. Or later. But, late adopters are just slow to decide to change. They aren't necessarily rejecting the change. It's those naysayers that have the attitude that canals are still the way. And phone books. . .

Then, look at your children. The average age of first cell phone ownership is now 8 years of age. Wow. Kids just seem to naturally take to the technology that many of us avoid until it's perfected. They just flow with it and know about it and are on top of all the changes and future changes. They lead. We follow.

So, business is business and if we are going to stay in business, we would do better to have less resistance to the changes and maybe bring in some kids to help us out. The Internet is today. What is tomorrow? We as businesses need to head there as soon as possible. The business is going there. Our business will need to in order to thrive. All aboard!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Leader Adjusts The Sails

"The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The leader adjusts the sails."

-- John C Maxwell

Well said. This makes it so easy to see who you are around as well as who you are.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Exercising Insubordination Is Risky. I Say, "So What?"

"Often, people with access to the facts use them to amplify the fear in those around them. Facts speak loudly, numbers louder still. If you want to slow things down or average things out, facts are your best friend."

-- Seth Godin

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

-- Albert Einstein

"Subordination is overrated. They hardly have a word for it.
Insubordination is the place to be."

-- Seth Godin

I was reading these quotes recently and at different times and somehow they all went together for me and spoke of past lives, of past employment, of risking it all to be insubordinate.

Of all the things I am, I suppose insubordinate is one of them, and I have it for a number of reasons. One is that is destroys boredom, that illness that is most treacherous. Second, I have to ask the question, "how else do you move forward?" Third, I want my participation to make a decided difference. I come to move the ball not rake the sand.

So, I was looking back on various employment positions and looking particularly at the insubordination aspect of them--my insubordination, at least. It seems that in one way or another, or seven or eight more, I have been guilty of insubordination at each and every one. Yes, insubordinate, yet respectfully so. I get frustrated very easily at the status quo and love to ask, "why not?" a lot. I detest hearing, "no," or "we don't do it that way," or "we have to go through channels," or other such stalling tactics.

Some ideas I've promoted get killed the moment they are out and aren't even given the light of day, but that doesn't mean they aren't worthy or that they wouldn't make a big difference. I'm thinking of one from the car business right now that would have made a big difference, I'm certain of it. Dealerships who have a long term sales staff would benefit the most, others less so, but still a sizable change upward in sales productivity. Then, I hear the but. . . and after a period, I let it go and move on. No guts, no glory! This is where the quote from Albert Einstein comes to play in that education stands in the way of learning! They've always done it that way and so that's just the way it's gonna be. Know what I mean? Sometimes it is just so hard to try something new and different. I say, the hell with tradition! I say, the hell with the way everyone else does it! I say, so what? Do it anyway! It could make a difference!

Of course, it is not the car business, it's every business in one way or another. All you insubordinates out there--how many times have you heard about the facts and the numbers and such as Seth Godin so aptly states. The way to slow it all down is paying close attention to the facts. And, Einstein said, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Indeed. So, we insubordinates swim a couple or three or four strokes upstream, and then we let go and float for a while to rest up and recuperate. We flirt with the danger zone: getting canned. Hell, I've flirted with that for over 45 years. Never did scare me much. If it did, I couldn't be much good as an insubordinate.

So, many of us insubordinates end up here in business for ourselves. It's not nearly as much fun as a good swim upstream now and then, but it is much more satisfying in that I can act on my own ideas perfectly. They don't know what they're missing! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

North Bay Truck Center Open House Was A Huge Success!

Thank you one and all for coming out to our first NBTC Customer Appreciation & Open House on July 8th, 2010. Several hundred people came by and enjoyed some food, drink, displays, monster truck, show cars, race cars and much more. Prizes were flowing--matter of fact, every attendee won a prize!

Thank you to all of our special vendors who helped make this event a success. A special thanks to Ramos Oil for bringing their famous hot dog cart and feeding us with those premium dogs. If it weren't for them, it could have been ugly when our propane tank ran dry on the BBQ grill in the middle of roasting our chicken. As it was, everyone had plenty to eat and there was a bit left over for the employees.

Thank you again for your participation. We appreciate it very much and look forward to doing this again in the future!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sometimes All It Takes Is Just A Little Twist

We've been helping one of our clients, Wine & Spirits World of Vacaville, CA by doing their website, and a weekly email promoting their Friday night wine tasting events. We've been doing this for two years this month. The wine tastings were building for a period and there were personnel changes and, you know how it goes--you make adjustments and try to keep the balls in the air. For a time, the wine tastings were getting smaller in size, but another change started them climbing again. Then. . . BAM! A little change produced a spectacular result and started a new idea.

The Queen of Marketing is made up of Nicole Arabia and Jodi McGuire and we've been doing their website, blog and weekly email for about two years as well. They come to most of the wine tastings as well because Wine & Spirits World has been their client as well in their own business. The Queens have developed a certain following and have built up their email list from less than 100 to over 1500 in a short time.

The Queens were asked if they would pour this last Friday since the main person in charge would be out of town on vacation. The pros that the Queens are, said they would be happy to do so. So we sent out the usual newsletter, but added this twist: rather than call it the wine tasting, we called it the Queens Wine Tasting and said they were guest pourers, which they were, and we also promoted it in the Queens newsletter, blog, and in Facebook.

This time the event rocked the house! It was the largest turnout ever in all of the wine tastings in the last two years. The place was packed! So many new people and everyone had a great time. It was awesome. The Queens were pretty busy pouring, but it looked like they had a good time as well. It was a huge hit.

So this idea came into being: Guest Pourers. So now, this little twist changed everything this time. Can it be done again? Can it be done better? Who might we get as guest pourers?

All of a sudden, something that was becoming mundane became exciting again with this little twist and this huge success. Sometimes that's all it takes is just a little twist and then your whole path is clear again and enthusiasm, that greatest of all thrills, comes back and helps revive the whole experience.

What little twist can you do in your business that will bring that magic enthusiasm back, move the needle and produce a grander result? I can suggest one way to do it on purpose rather than to get lucky, would be to brainstorm ideas periodically about what you do and how you do it. Get some other minds involved and have people look at what you do and make suggestions. Many of them you might automatically discard. That's the way we seem to work much of the time. We are used to a certain way and we kind of get in a rut. Other minds bring a fresh look at things we've been doing a long time and if we will allow ourselves to question everything, a new twist can emerge and change everything for the better.

Sometimes all it takes is just a little twist.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Long and Short Of It

In my travels calling on businesses, observing businesses and helping businesses, I see a lot of businesses hurting from the most recent economic dip, and with cash flow always on the mind, it is so easy to look at the cracks in the sidewalk than the horizon. As a business focuses on the moment, this hour, today, the business attitude changes from those that will look 5 years, 10 years and even 50 years down the road. There is a whole different feel. They react differently, respond differently and even communicate with their customers differently.

Of course, when it's in your face, you have to deal with it right now, but to forsake the long range thinking as a result can be a recipe for disaster. Here's some differences that I see:

The Short and Long Of It

  • Short range thinking businesses focus just on the sale, the income, the collection--in other words, the money. It's about survival. The focus is here and now and today. There is no thought of a year from now and many times not even two or three months from now. It's not about a growing business, it's about saving the business.
  • Short range thinking businesses have little or no customer follow up plan, little or no customer communication plan, little or no promotional plans, little or no growth plans. It's still about right here and right now.
  • Short range thinking businesses are looking for quick fixes--an immediate return. There is almost no focus on the Internet in this business. They are still thinking about running ads and getting traffic in the door--a business philosophy from the 1960's.
  • Short range thinking businesses are always looking to do everything themselves. Truth is, with this thinking, they cannot afford to hire anyone to help. Jack of all trades and master of very few is more like it.
  • Short range thinking businesses always have the owner working every day and even putting in more hours than they would if they worked for someone else. They bought a job.
  • Short range thinking businesses are exchanging time for money--selling services for their income, or selling products for their income. Maybe they will add an employee or two to help, but they are still running the business daily.
The Long and Short Of It
  • Long range thinking businesses understand the importance of cash flow and deal with it, yet they are planning improvements in their cash flow by planning to grow and brainstorming constantly on the improvement of their service, facilities and customer base. They know that more customers is always the answer and improving their service will always have rewards.
  • Long range thinking businesses have a customer follow up plan, have developed and continually expand their database, stay in touch in various ways with their past clients and intended prospects. Their customer communication plan is effective and produces results.
  • Long range thinking businesses are always thinking about promotion. They are always promoting their business, their services, their products, their method of doing business. They think 5, 10, 20 years down the road and imagine--yes, IMAGINE their success and greater and greater success as time moves forward.
  • To a long range thinking business, expanding and enhancing their Internet presence is critical because they realize not only the power of the Internet, but the future of it. They are not looking for short term fixes, or necessarily immediate reward, they realize that regular, consistent movement forward will give them the results they need over the long term--and short term.
  • Long range thinking businesses are always looking to have the business run well without the owners. They are always looking for ways to partner with others, hire tasks out to enhance their productivity and lifestyle. They know that they don't know everything and they don't even want to know everything; instead, they find people that are smart in those areas and hire them to help their business grow.
  • Long range thinking businesses are always thinking about RESIDUAL income--income that keeps coming after the work is done. They think short term effort and long term payoff.
  • Long range thinking businesses are always thinking of ways to teach others to take over rather than always run things themselves. They have beach plans, yacht plans, multiple business plans--in other words, growth plans. They think that it's far better to own 10% of a million dollar business than 100% of a $100,000 business. That difference is everything to them.
Which business are you?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Business Is Business. . . Or So They Say. . .

"The essence of a successful business is really quite simple. It is your ability to offer a product or service that people will pay for at a price sufficiently above your costs, ideally three or four or five times your cost, thereby giving you a profit that enables you to buy and to offer more products and services."

-- Brian Tracy

Brian's quote above is excellent and I think well stated. That is doing business and the basics of what a business does. On this I think there would be wide agreement.

In my lengthy business travels, I have heard a lot of people say things like, "business is business--you don't mix business with pleasure," or "this is business, that's just how it has to be," or "we're not here to make friends, we're here to make a profit," and other such putrid sayings. They disgust me to even hear them.

It's because I'm an idealist in some ways, I suppose, but I just don't see how it makes any sense to live a life one way and do business another. I am a huge fan of mixing business and pleasure and especially pleasure for my customers. I am a huge fan of The Golden Rule as taught me by my grandparents and by James Cash Penney or JC Penney, who would go so far out of his way to provide exceptional value for his customers that many would laugh at today. Not me. His philosophy was simply providing much more value than the money the customer gave him. I think that is a most solid philosophy and as applicable today as any day past, present or future.

Indeed, the focus of the business will be best served by focusing on the customer and the value that the customer will receive. That value should always be high and going higher. There are hundreds of ways to provide value and each one would be worthy of exploration and consideration. This is the focus of a long-term business. Many businesses--even large ones, operate on such short term thinking by providing less value, by cutting services, lowering quality to enhance profits and many other ways. In good times, these businesses survive, but in times of the down market, these businesses have a seriously tough time.

People like doing business with people, and especially people they like and trust. Repeat and referral business is the best business a business could hope for and long term thinking, value increasing businesses reap those rewards easily. And, repeat and referral business is also the highest profits because those sales cost so much less to create.

Business is business. What does that mean to you?