If you work at an automobile delaership in parts of Pa, NJ or DE you might have encountered me in the last 4 months, entering your dealerships with complimentary copies of a book in hand, The Secrets of Inspirational Selling.
Please allow me to introduce myself, I am Lois Burak and new to the automobile industry. I know this sounds a little like an introduction one makes in front of a self-help group, but ironically in this very lucrative industry helping your self is the key to learning your profession.
The formula seems to be that the automobile manufacturers inform you about the specifics of their brands while motivational speakers offer temporary mood elevation so you'll be more effective in bringing their products to the consumer. In the end its basically the same information someone has passed along for the last 30 or more years.
Before I joined the Automotive industry I did some research, and what I found was that the industry that I dedicated myself to is a great deal like selling cars to consumers.
Some background: I owned and operated a successful full service salon and day spa for twenty five years. I often described my shop as the Mercedes Benz of salons.
A cosmetologist must go to a state certified beauty academy to obtain a license. As in most trade schools you are learning essentially just the basics or the same information that has been passed down year after year.
Automobile professionals like other business owners, are motivated by personal goals and incentives to make a living. People need to be inspired as well as provided with the tools to achieve their higher goals. However, dependent on the sale, the beauty and automobile professional, will become complacent in their environment. As I visit each dealership, I have met sales professionals and managers that are resistant to higher learning. They believe there are no new ways to invent the wheel or they are convinced that the only wheel is the one they know.
Some are content with their position, have low morale but most are fearful. Fear of appearing as if they possess low intelligence, or that they have no will to make the effort to better their professional situation.
I loved the aspect of making things happen for people. I derived pleasure from having a part no matter how small in someone achieving his or her goals.
When I opened my business, I had a definite plan of direction I wanted it to go in. My decision to be a beauty professional was not a deliberate career move. I had interests in law, journalism and the entertainment industry. I wanted to leave school and my father insisted that I find reasonable employment first. My brother was a hairdresser who worked at a salon that needed new hires and I trained and became a manicurist.
I believe to this day, that this course of action gave me a definite advantage as an entrepreneur. Why? In a billion dollar industry, I stood apart from my peers. I was able to look outside of the box when presenting services, products, the salon's atmosphere, advertising and above all training others. I looked beyond the beauty business for ideas on how to operate and brand my company.
In the early days, as an owner, training was one of the grueling obstacles I had to overcome. For most people in this industry there was not a great deal of furthered education available. This was an industry rapidly evolving much like the car business; establishments were just not keeping up with new technology. Eventually the industry saw the advantages and advanced training became commonplace. Some employees sought out salons that would offer more education as supplemental compensation.
Furthering my education was not limited to how to coif the new "hot" haircut, or apply the latest in hair product - It went beyond that. What kept my business alive were the lessons learned - money management, the art of an up sell, and client /operator etiquette was offered to my team.
After many years and some furious staff turnover, the realization that I could not remain in a profession where my livelihood was dependent on the ambition and drive of others. It did not matter how clever the advertisements or how discounted the products and services were the human spirit propels success and in the end it all comes down to how well the operator handled the client once he or she entered the threshold.
David Lewis: “Once you think you know it all the business can no longer be fun, and it is time for a career change”
So here I am, in the automobile industry. Working for David Lewis, a man who also spent a passionate thirty years in an industry dedicated to educating and inspiring automobile professionals to reach greater heights and higher closing ratios.