I started FCP Groton in 2001 with a simple goal, to sell auto parts on EBay and our website. I had no business plan, no direction, no employees only the sources to obtain the parts and the knowledge of where to sell them. I had been selling some auto parts via my parent’s local store on the side and it was starting to take off. I knew with a lot of hard work and some imagination that it would become bigger. The first employee was hired followed by the second, third, fourth, and fifth. In the blink of an eye, 7 years passed and revenue went from 250k to 7M a year, yet we were still doing the same thing each day, only on a grander scale as when this was first established.
My parents and grandparents were old school business people, blue collar workers. I saw that work ethic growing up and that became instilled in me and then my employees for the first 7 years. I mean we worked, worked hard on selling auto parts as that the only goal. Most of the close minded thought process was due to our environment; small leaky building, ancient computer system, and lack of employees (due to the space). We never stopped for a second to step back and see what we needed to do different to get to the next level.
Our whole mentality changed in April 2008. We moved to a larger facility and went on a new software platform. The space enabled more employees and the software freed up time. We had time to think and analyze what the business was for the first time ever. We drafted a business plan, gave ourselves a little direction. We saw that we were no longer a company that could just sell auto parts, we would need to be more than that if we were to expand and survive in the new age of business.
We needed to offer a free service to our customers to compliment the physical products. We needed to become more active in the online community. We needed to communicate directly with our customers in an open manner. We needed to become better listeners when problems arose. We needed this all to be transparent to everyone. The more and more information you provide about your company, the more and more trust you will gain from your customers. There are thousands of places to buy auto parts online; this was our niche as to how we were going to differentiate ourselves from the rest.
We made our first venture into this transparent society last summer when we sponsored a few forums to communicate to offer our knowledge and support in their communities. From there we created this blog and our social networking pages to communicate and interact with the day to day lives of our customers who in turn became part of our community. Not only did this have a profound effect on customers, our employees were actually excited about the buzz and wanted to participate, and added side effect. They felt and realized for the first time that they were part of something special.
There are thousands of companies selling auto parts on the Internet fighting for your business. Having the lowest price or the best customer service can only get you so far if they don’t compliment each another. If you can’t back up your great price with a speedy shipping service or a customer service team when there is a problem, you will not get the reviews and support in the online community that you need to survive. Our goal is to touch our customers and their lives so they come back to us the next time. We try to do our job so well that they have no choice but to tell their friends and social networks about us. Word of mouth in the today’s society is your most valuable advertising asset yet is something that you can’t pay for, you have to earn it, the blue collar way.
For more information please visit FCP Groton