Meeting people, getting to know their business and their needs, is the secret to success for this innovative fleet manager.
Fran MacKenzie wears many hats. Besides her full-time job as Fleet Manager for South Oakville Chrysler, she is also President of the Golden Horseshoe chapter of Landscape Ontario, a member of the Toronto Construction Association and Creator and Founder of Verticalove, an organization that celebrates the art of pole dancing.
Her schedule is so packed, she has very little downtime. “I can get away with it because I don’t have small kids,” she says. “If I’m away from home for a few days, it doesn’t really matter.”
Why so busy? In a word: Networking!
MacKenzie says it’s a great way to drum up business, if you’re patient enough.”For me, it’s about getting on their boards, sitting on their committees and letting them get to know me. In time, it pays off.”
Rather than simply go after big corporations and government accounts, she has found success in other markets. “I’m looking at small business,” MacKenzie says. “Why wouldn’t you go after that market?”
The people business
A strong believer in building personal relationships, MacKenzie knows the value of nourishing familiarity. “People like doing business with people they trust,” she says. “It’s a very slow go. I listen to what people are talking about. As I get to know them, I get to know their businesses, and as I get to know their businesses, I get to know their needs.”
Once she understands a customer’s needs, she is able to offer a solution. And since she has already taken the time to build a rapport with the customer, doing business becomes that much easier.
“With the landscape show, for example,” she says, “you end up going to dinner with everyone. You end up having a drink, and you build relationships. They have to know me as a person first.”
Although business is the ultimate goal, MacKenzie has mastered the fine art of avoiding the subject in order to focus on building relationships. “I’m representing my company, but I’m not talking about my business. I’m talking about what matters to you. Eventually you’re going to trust me enough to want to hear what I have to say because I’m an expert in my own field.”
Treat them with respect
Of course, this approach to business is no way a gimmick. MacKenzie sincerely wants to get to know the business owners she’s dealing with, as well as the issues and challenges they face. It’s the only way to offer meaningful solutions that make sense, and it’s the main reason why she’s a member of a number of professional associations.
Moreover, that respect comes through not only at association meetings, but whenever her fleet customers need a vehicle. “I treat my customers like the business people they are,” she says. “I respect their time, and I’m more than happy to answer all their questions. Their time is money and my time is money, so the more efficiently we can do things, the quicker we can finalize things and move to the next customer.