Mini Mania, Inc. strives to make “Customer Service’ our primary objective. And while this customer service objective for us may not be consistent with the classic definition in our consumer world, the nature of our business is to supply information and parts to a very small community of owners of a small number of cars. The number of dedicated Mini owners within the USA has doubled in the last 5 years and the resulting quantity of over 20,000 cars still is comparatively small in relationship to many other consumer businesses.
Because of the rapid growth in the number of Mini’s now here in the US our experience shows that only half of the current owners have owned their Mini for less than 2 years. For many, the Mini is a new car to them. The nature of the Mini both by heritage and reality is that it often ‘personalized’ and ‘maintained’ by the owner. Our efforts have been focused on providing information to the Mini owner and community in helping an owner understand their Mini. The Mini Mania website is the largest in the world for information focused on this unique automobile. We have invested heavily in presenting articles with detailed history of the Mini along with numerous ‘technical how-to’ articles to an encyclopedia. Many of the over 3,000 on-line article topics are covered in detail and can be searched by phrases or single words.
We have developed an interactive matrix to help in identifying many of the important characteristics of the recently imported classic Minis. After 40+ years of production it is not easy to determine exactly what someone may require from both an informational and practical point of view. Detailed technical information on individual parts can be found on-line with each part number being linked to a full ‘exploded view’ parts catalog but also descriptive pictures and technical articles relating to installation and application guidance.
Mini Mania’s Customer Service team represents a standard in the industry of professionalism. Our Customer Service Representatives are experienced at providing information, direction and assistance in the technical nature of this ‘hobby’ of Mini ownership. The most important part of customer service is fulfilling the requests for maintenance, upgrade and restoration parts for the Mini. Concurrent with the tremendous increase in the number of Minis in the USA was the closing of production operations in the UK. The net result has been more cars to supply and service here in the USA from a supply chain that is dramatically constricting. Without the need to supply either the factory or new owners of the Mini, many of the manufactures of support and upgrade parts have simply either closed or moved onto to other products. As you can imagine, the economic principle of “supply and demand” plays a huge part in what manufactures are willing to produce. This tremendous void has generated cost and price pressures on what supply is still available. Our customer service challenge is first to help identify what the most important parts that the Mini owner here in the USA need and want and then to source those cost effectively.
As the British automotive industry almost totally disappears from the economy so too is the support for maintenance and aftermarket parts. Our customer service goal of ALWAYS having what the customer wants and when he wants it is based upon our computer modeling of historical trends of our nearly $1,000,000 inventory. This computer modeling is tremendously complicated by the reality of availability and cost. As the world demand decreases and supply decreases, the costs naturally go up. As demand drops further, supply at any cost is the reality. Because of this supply and demand trend our ‘customer service’ department is in reality extended to its limits and now include our purchasing department that often have to make 4 and 5 calls to various manufacturers and suppliers to just locate one part. As our ‘must have’ fast moving inventory consists of 1,000’s of part numbers this is definitely a full time effort. A major component of this effort is the sourcing of the obscure or seldom asked for part that, while still listed our computer database, we have not had a request for in years. These are often the real challenge of time and effort. Our ‘customer service’ efforts have increased dramatically because the oldest of our cars are now 40+ years old and with NO factory support the aftermarket industry is now losing interest and moving on to bigger markets. And even support for the later model Minis (fuel injected versions) is very difficult as production stopped even before an aftermarket industry could be created to support them and with no future for more production, the aftermarket has no desire to enter a dying market.
At the forefront of our ‘customer service’ effort is our purchasing effort. Our purchasing department professionals, with the aid of the highly specialized computer system, search the world EVERY day for everything as simple as wheel bearing to as unique as tops for a Moke. Their challenge is very complicated by the reality of ‘order fulfillment’. After all the effort to finally identify the most current source at the best possible
price it is not uncommon for orders to arrive at the Mini Mania warehouse with as little as 60% of what we originally requested.
Our Customer Service goals are simple; Provide the maximum amount of information possible to satisfy the needs of the Mini hobbyist while maintaining an inventory that supports their needs and desires. Our customer service motto says, ‘If we don’t’ know the answer to your question - we will find the answer; if we don’t have the part in stock, we will make every effort to find it!”
Article Date: Feb 14, 2007||
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