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Finish Strong but Plan Ahead

This is a quick reminder that nobody needs now. It's also a permanent reminder about the way that a dealership's internal marketing culture should operate (in my humble opinion based upon experience) and should be repeated every month, not just at the end of the year.

It's the end of arguably the best year for the car business in a long time. I remember the last time I was working at a dealership at year-end and the excitement we felt as we were closing in on the all-time record for a 40-year-old company. I also remember a lecture I had to give to the owner that went something like this:

  • Owner - Who were you meeting with just now?
  • Me - A website vendor.
  • Owner - Why are you messing around with a vendor? We have one week left to break the record! They can wait.
  • Me - You know my philosophy on vendors. We get the best deals at the end of the month.
  • Owner - Then talk to them at the end of next month. We need sales now!
  • Me - I understand, but there's only so much I can do to influence this month and all of it's in motion. However, spending an entire extra month with a poor website would do more damage than any positive I can bring to the table for this month. Your sales people are responsible for making the sales happen. I'm responsible for putting the deals together and making the leads happen. Every lead you're seeing today is a result of what I've been doing for the last 2 months, 6 months, and even 12 months.

I won't go into details about the rest of the conversation because it didn't go well. I left the dealership a few months later, not out of spite but out of commitment to continued excellence.

With the right strategy and a strong work ethic, everyone is capable of playing now and planning for tomorrow. They are not two masters pulling in two different directions. If there's a deal to work with a customer right now, work it. During the downtime between customers, work the future. In our industry, we often get so wrapped up the now (for good reason) that we betray our plans for the future (for bad reasons).

This is it. It's the last week of the year. Every month, there's a last week of the month during which just about everyone is pushing to make it happen. Just don't get so engulfed by the end of year or end of month push that you forget to make time for improving your marketing today. If there was ever a time to grind a vendor on prices or services, this is the time. Just as you're trying to make your month, they're trying to make their month.

Plan ahead. Make it happen.

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