With Exxon-Mobil recently reporting another record profit of over $45 billion for 2008 while General Motors just released a(nother) fourth quarter loss of nearly $10 billion, it got me thinking - in these difficult times, do you want to be your customer's car or their fuel?
You see, when times are great consumers are much more likely to go through their cars faster - trading up for the latest and greatest every few years. But when times get tough, they start to realize that those cars are actually built to last MUCH longer. And so they hold on to them. And car inventories grow. And car companies go out of business.
But whether they get the newest cars or keep their old ones, consumers still need gas to drive them. Sure, they may try to drive less distance (or even more as they try to avoid more costly air travel), but they still will need to get from point A to point B whether they are in a brand new 2009 model or a 9 year old Ford Explorer (like me).
People may build fewer houses and move less, but they still need heat. Parents may buy less toys, but they still need batteries to keep the old ones going. Families may go out to eat less, but they still need to eat. You get my point.
Now, don't get me wrong. Most everybody and most every business is feeling the pain right now. But the things that are required to keep things running will always fare better than the things they help run.
How can you ensure that you become your customer's fuel and not their vehicle?