Almost 3 decades ago the face of the construction, quarrying, mining and associated industries looked and operated significantly differently to that of the world we live in today. Change throughout industry comes about by a company, someone or a product doing a task more effectively and thus creating improved outputs resulting very often in time savings and more profitability.
A successful outcome is usually achieved by a combination of all three along with a great deal of hard work and a dogged determination to NEVER accept NO as an answer and NEVER allowing yourself to be put off by the negative feedback that change on a grand scale always brings.
You MUST have faith in the conviction of your beliefs and go about promoting your idea, new product and or service with all your being, if you get knocked down (and you will – often) get back up and try, try harder!
That was the approach we as a company adopted back in the mid eighties when my two brothers co invented a product that would go on to revolutionise how hydraulic excavators are used on western job sites across the world. You’ve all passed these types of machines on the side of a road working away building something, rebuilding or repairing roads, bridges, railways, houses etc etc. Miller as a company specialise in producing products that are used on the machines that do this work. Our job was to look at ways in which we could provide innovative solutions that would make a difference to our industry across all sectors by inventing and designing products that would improve productivity, save time and increase profits. A tall order but we did it, we created what I very often call ‘the magic hand’ the Miller quick coupler that fits onto the end of a machine arm that allows the operator to change from one size tool to another ( in order to carry out lots of different requirements/tasks with the same machine at any moment in any one day), this then unique product quite simply went onto revolutionise our industry across the western world.
The marketing of the product should have been the easy part right?
In those days when a machine wanted to change from one tool to another the operator would have to engage the assistance of a colleague onsite (very often in dangerous and inclement weather conditions). Together they would take on the arduous and time wasting task of changing tools, time wasting because whist carrying out this task the machine was not doing what its main purpose is ‘ being productive’ and dangerous because anyone who’s ever worked on a job site or has passed one at the side of a road it’s all too clear that the more you place yourself in the environment of heavy machinery the much greater the risk of accidents. So a product that reduced the real threat of accidents and ensured that the machine was working constantly should of been an overnight success? Unfortunately not… A way of doing a certain thing becomes a habit and any threat of changing that habit comes with real resistance even when its for the better. Very often cost is the reason people use and you therefore need not only to explain the benefits in detail of why a product can make a real difference to their business but you also need to demonstrate in hard cash terms what impact that the product and or service could have on the customers bottom line… their PROFIT!!!
In the UK many infrastructure projects use plant hire companies to carry out the work required by mobile plant and like all established businesses there is a set fee around what you are likely to pay for such machinery. Adding extra cost to the base cost of the machine through a new product that promised so much but was as yet unheard of and so increasing the purchase price was a very difficult sell. We targeted the plant hire sector as they represented our largest opportunity but when we approached them with our new product most of these companies felt they could not pass on the additional cost that they would incur if they adopted this new way of doing things and changing their mindset then became our biggest challenge.. Why could they not be more visionary I thought? Surely they could see that if they were one of the early adaptors of this new technology then they would be able to demonstrate on site how much more effective and safe their equipment was and when the client required machinery in the future they were surely likely to get this extra business through the improved efficiency and service they had provided as a result of their machines being equipped with our ‘magic hand’. After months of travelling the length and breadth of the UK seeing large and small plant hire companies alike with relatively little return for my efforts, it came to me, I needed to seek customers who were financially penalised if they did not complete their projects on time. I turned my attention to ‘civil engineering contractors’ a much smaller group of companies but never the less companies I felt would be prepared to give our new product ‘a go’, after all if it delivered what we said it did they could not lose, they could be confident that they could complete the tasks required of their hydraulic excavators within the time necessary to avoid costly ‘late’ penalties. Soon I has received orders from two such companies, the first in Nottingham and the second South Wales. I made sure that every step of the process was flawless and that both of these new customers received the very best of service from placing their order to installation of the product.
After they had used the equipment for a couple of weeks I visited both and asked for their feedback “delighted with it” said the MD of the company from Nottingham, “every machine I order in future I will specify it has the Miller quick coupler fitted.” the investment in the five units we purchased has already paid for itself’ said the company from South Wales that went onto explain that without the increased productivity and efficiency they were able to get from their machines as a direct result of our equipment they would not of completed the project they were working on, on time. I used these anecdotes as part of my new marketing message. I encouraged civil engineering companies UK wide to invest in the technology (and they did). I also suggested to them that when hiring machines onto their sites/projects they had secured that they insist that the plant hire companies concerned have the quick couplers installed to their machinery…