Check the correct statements…
❑ In good times we develop bad habits because we can.
❑ In bad times we develop good habits because we have to.
We hardly ever get the chance to start over in life, or in business, but that’s exactly what almost every dealer and their entire staff had to do in 2009 and 2010.
The car business changed dramatically, and it changed almost overnight. When it did, dealers and managers who’d had years of great success because of the great market conditions, had also developed all of those bad habits that come with ‘good times’. Practically overnight, 80 percent of all the dealers, managers and salespeople in our business had to rethink and redo just about everything they’d been doing.
Selling in the Best of Times, and the Worst
The problem for so many people was that they’d only been in the car business during those best growth years. Because the market was driving people to their dealerships, they never learned how and never focused on building their business from within through prospecting, following up unsold customers to get them back into the dealership … and ‘retention’ in sales wasn’t even a passing thought for most people. They didn’t need to worry about it, because as the last customer either drove away in their new vehicle or walked away without buying – there was another customer just pulling up to the dealership.
Neither salespeople, nor their managers, had any idea how to prospect effectively. Even with their warmest opportunities, they had no follow up process for those unsold customers, so they missed even more of those sales, and their retention hovered around 15 to 20 percent accidentally. Worse, even their highest producers in sales really had no selling process in place and couldn’t actually sell the customers who did come in, so they lost some of their potentially best salespeople, too.
Turnover increased, but managers were never taught how to hire, train, and coach their salespeople to sell or build their business so their next new hire couldn’t pull it off either.
How did most react at first? They kept dumping more money into advertising and dropping price, which meant higher costs, lower sales, and lower profits.
Almost all of 2009 was about three things for most dealers;
- a) damage control fast,
- b) stabilizing to prepare for growth, and then
- c) training and managing effectively to start growing again.
The dealers who played ‘offense’ and jumped on those three areas immediately, got back on track fast, and a lot of the dealers we work with had record months in the worst of the terrible market. Eventually, even for those who just played defense, the dust finally settled, and they made it through the recession.
Discipline or Regret?
In our dealer and manager class and in my book, “Recovery & Growth”, we talk about the toughest decisions you face in business every day, and we talk about the two kinds of pain you face with making those decisions; either discipline or regret.
Most dealers and managers lack the discipline to do what they know they should do every day to sell more cars, make more money, grow, etc. The pain comes much later knowing they could have been so much better “if only we’d _______.”
Here we go again. Just like pre-recession great times, we’ve been in regrowth mode for six or seven years and from our daily contacts with so many dealerships each day, I warned everyone in November 2017 that it was time to ‘right the ship’ quick because it was starting to slip again for about 80 percent percent of the dealerships.
Unfortunately again now, just like in 2008, dealers and managers have developed more bad habits than good habits and instead of doing what they know they should, the excuses are still the same …‘timing isn’t right’ or ‘we’re too busy’ or ‘it’s summer’ or ‘it’s winter’ or ‘we’re reorganizing’ or ???
You’ll be making a choice again soon…
❑ Discipline ❑ Regret
Discipline is painful on a daily basis, but it’s always cheaper and hurts so much less than the regret that always comes next.
Here are some comments from dealers who read my book, “Recovery & Growth” and how it helped them…
“I can’t believe we allowed ourselves to make so many bad decisions.”
“I used your book as a checklist of exactly what I had to do to put my dealership back on track. I wish I had read it sooner because we lost some great employees, and that could have been avoided.”
“Joe, you kicked my butt on almost every page in your book and got me refocused and back on track. I can’t thank you enough for helping me save my dealership (and my house).”
We’ve been hearing about that early warning feeling and comment again and again, “it’s getting a little tougher to do business as usual.”
If you have “Recovery & Growth”, it’s time to get it and turn each chapter into weekly management meetings this month.
Don’t have it or need more copies? Get it free at JoeVerde.com/Store and/or take the online course if you’re on JVTN®. Don’t wait, train now and avoid the regret.