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Jared Hamilton
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It's Cram Time. Were You Expecting It?!?!

Well if you didn't look, 2010 is nearly to a close. Last time you thought about it mid-year, it looked like 2010 would be clear sailing. Well, now it's cram time and you must be thanking the incentive and promotion gods (because they're on bid-time, even for the companies that usually don't).

So while the factory may have your store punching cars in a couple weeks and you may be planning that getaway you've deserved for a while, what are you going to do to surpass your numbers and go for broke? Will this be the time that you get serious about database management and using your CRM? Will it be when you take reputation management seriously and invite (yes, actually invite) your customers to participate in building your brand? Or is it simply time to get serious about following up with real intent on every lead?

Success over the last five weeks of the year will be partially based on history. All of it. Were you the type that waited until the night before finals to do an all-nighter? You know what you'll get before 2011 comes. Are you the type that starts with a bang and fades never quite committing? You know what you'll get before 2011 comes.

If you're the type that has gotten process down, approaches each day with complete opportunity, reads and participates in the fourms and communities, checks their performance against others (outside the store) and who believes that and acts like you are just another consumer, cram time should be a cake walk. You, my friend, are ready for 2011 already because you've already stuck to your plan for this year. Which, by chance, you most likely drew out at the beginning of the year.

For the rest of you, it's time to get serious. Really serious. Let's take a look at what should have moved business this year: Online. Digital. Web. Whatever you want to call it, Sales are originating from the Internet. How do you do that? The answers, yes answers, were available via a handful of conferences and by a number of the OEM's digital meetings. Did you go?

And we're not counting mandatory regional schmooze-fests, or webinars and other sales- and product-pitch based "information" sessions online nor NADA even though there are workshops. So let's assume, better yet guess, that around 6,000 people attended them (yeah, that's high). And assume that roughly 1.5 attended per store, with 30% attendance going to the independents. So around 10-15% of the franchise and 5% of the independent stores are learning. Ouch.

Based on those numbers, how can an industry hungry for sales really attack it? Cover your eyes 'cause here it comes: business as usual! How much have we progressed over another year when 2/3 of leads still are not addressed correctly and service retention is still lower than what it should be? So how many baseball bats will come out at sales meetings over the remaining days this year?

Cram time, when prepared for, is not cram time at all. Fear-based operation goes out the window. Management understands completely what is going on. Yes, including in the "Internet" department (ahem, why do we still call it that?). Cram time, quite frankly, should be what the customers do when they realize they'll be without that new (or newer) car for another year. They shouldn't be the ones smelling desperation.

So, were you expecting it? Are you prepared for it? Are you making it because of what you're doing or because your brand has television commericals with beautiful bows on cars, or radio spots yelling about year-end deals. If you're prepared, congratulations. If not...aren't you sick of it by now?

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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