In many parts of the country, it's been a scorching hot summer, but as temperatures heated up, so did the auto industry. Fewer days of blanking-clocking 12 hours of labor and not a single car sold to show for your team’s efforts, banks are loosening their noose of credit requirements and releasing their stronghold of LTV restrictions, and more qualified buyers, not just “bottom feeders,” are turning into our lots. All of these are signs of a promising future to our once bleak auto industry. As the industry begins to move from a stage of survival to one of growth, where do you stand? Will you be one who is willing to spring forward and merge into an industry that is rapidly changing or will you be one of those unfortunate souls who instead decides to fall back, remembering the yesterdays-destined to be penned in another chapter of the industry’s version of Tim LaHaye’s novel series, Left Behind?
- Make everyday a recession: Og Mandino wrote, “Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort; that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks; that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark, if you're cutting corners and shirking responsibilities…never neglect the little things.” Recessions have a way of exposing your flaws as well as testing your strengths to the very brink of a meltdown. It’s during these difficult times you make advantages out of adversities and instill fundamentals to eradicate your flaws. Make each day a reset-tion; each day you have the unique chance to begin again. Learn to appreciate the victories-no matter the size and never forget those who helped you along the way. Also, vow never again to be casual in the details-for they’ll lead to casualties. Remember the devil is always in the details.
- Less bang, more bling: Vehicles are rapidly becoming more and more advanced; manufactures are spending historic lows per vehicle in rebates and incentives and thanks to the ‘net, consumers now have access to everything, from cupholders to cost, about your vehicle. Gone are the “Buy a truck, get a hatchback free,” ad campaigns. The Shock & Awe factors of mammoth rebates are gone. As sales consultants, we no longer have the ability to satiate a consumer’s appetite with huge rebates, we have to return to basics and go back to selling the advantages our product has over our competitors’. Consumers don’t need to know everything you know, but it is imperative you know everything they need. You wouldn’t dream of a stranger knowing more about your child than you do; conversely, a consumer should never know more about the product than the salesperson.
- You say you want a revolution: Marketing genius Seth Godin put it best when he stated we are no longer in the industrial age, but instead in the connection age. With the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and hosts of other social media, people want to be connected. No matter what others say, our business will always be relational. We must no longer defend the old paradigms with decrees of, “That’s the way we used to do it,” but instead embrace the change and tweak the advances to become advantageous to our industry. We demand the manufactures change models; we make it mandatory salespeople educate themselves with product knowledge, yet collectively as an industry we are still donning bellbottoms and platform shoes. Like it, love it, or leave it, we have to change with the times.
As an industry, we’ve had a reprieve and a chance to rehabilitate; each of us have the unique opportunity to reset, go back to the starting line and try again. Although we all start the same, our finishes will be diverse. Some will spring forward, the rest will fall back.
I’ll see you at the finish line on the blacktop!
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