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Chris Costner

Chris Costner Account Executive

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THRIVE or SURVIVE


We knew it was coming and now the month end is fast approaching as it always seems to sneak up faster than we would like for it to.

So my question is:  Did you thrive or survive?

Many of us talk with others in the industry on a daily basis. Some of our conversations are with those near us and others in other states. One common question I do know for sure that gets asked is, “How’s business?” I have been thinking about this question and it seems it is a question of validation to judge our current performance.  Would any others reading agree or disagree with this statement?

I find it interesting that many dealers are outperforming their brand, selling more vehicles and increasing gross profit all at the expense of their local competitors while others are finding a tough month going in the books very soon. How are the winners making this happen? I will begin by saying winners recognize that there are only three things in their control:

·         Attitudes

·         Sales Strategy

·         Sales Proficiency

Attitudes:

We have all heard the popular saying that “attitude determines altitude.” Winning dealerships have a “no excuses” culture in their stores.  This keeps them from becoming victims of the market and creates the realization that they are accountable for achieving their results. Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, once said that, “Every organization is perfectly aligned to achieve its current results.”  In other words, we are getting what we are getting, because we are doing what we are doing.  When you question results, do you accept excuses or do you ask, “If you couldn’t use that excuse, what would you say?”

Steve Brown, President of the Fortune Group, identified the “Failure Formula” saying, “People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially acceptable excuses for failure.”

My question is, “What is the attitude in your store today?”

Strategy:

A selling strategy is the operating philosophy that drives how you sell as a dealership. A strategy should be an exploitation of the things that make your operation truly unique.  What is your selling strategy? Do your people know what it is? In the absence of a clearly defined and well-executed strategy, your people are forced to react to the strategies of your competitors and the demands of your customers. In our industry and markets, there are really only two sales strategies:

·         Lowest Price Provider

·         High Value Differentiation

Your choice of strategy should be formed with an awareness of the strengths and limitations of each.  By definition, there can only be one lowest price provider in any given market and the consumers must be able to clearly determine what that is.  This strategy, although not my favorite, requires a conscious decision to drastically reduce margins to acquire business. To offset the reduction in margins, sales volumes must increase dramatically and costs must be slashed mercilessly or it doesn’t work.

High value differentiation strategies are those where the dealership creates a unique value proposition for the consumer and is where I believe the focus should be for all dealerships.  I believe this strategy will best resonate with the majority of our consumers. 

Let me ask, if a prospective purchaser decides to purchase a vehicle, do they want the cheapest price regardless of content, quality and treatment or are they looking to get the most for their money and do business with someone they like and trust?

Proficiency:

In a customer driven marketplace, how well you sell is as important as what you sell.  We can all agree that today’s customers are better educated, more demanding, less forgiving and in bigger hurry than ever before.  They certainly more likely to have shopped and can force your salespeople to take short cuts at critical junctures in the road to the sale.  Do your salespeople have the tools, abilities and awareness necessary to professionally regain control of a selling situation? Do they have the competence and confidence to use them? Are you measuring the right things? How many and how well?

Winning in today’s climate requires discipline, focus and execution.  Winners look in the mirror, assess their situation and fix the things that are getting in the way of their results.  Those of you dealers that relentlessly focus on perfecting attitude, strategy and proficiency will dominate your markets consistently.  Keep focus on what you can control.

Thrive or survive? Here’s to a strong close for all of you. Happy selling.

Tami Paulus
The first thing for every business at the start of every month is the goal. What to set? How to achieve? Where we lag behind previous month? bla bla bla... The best thing which a business can do is to identify the areas from where the sales where high in earlier month. The demographic as well as age limit. Also identification of new prospective area will help a lot in future. http://www.marksoldtowne.com/
Quinton Gentry
So true, the first instinct is to cut prices and slow spending as a reaction to the end of summer. However, lead volume and phone calls still pour in at summer levels and a negative outlook about what to expect for the upcoming month can spoil potential car deals. Arming sales staff and management with clear goals and the tools to reach those goals will keep the profits rolling right through the last quarter of the year. Great article Chris!
Jim Bell
So true on all avenues Chris! Love it and something that needs to be taken into account. I know that when we have great attitudes, we are performing well. Even when sales are down, the guys' attitudes have to be kept up by management and get them to dig. I know that happens all the time. How many times have you dug deep in the last 10 days of the month? I know we did last month and all of a sudden, we have GREAT attitudes around the dealership.

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