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Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

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Complacency Kills: How to Fight the Demon within a Surging Sales Environment

Riding the Wave

Sales are down... for many vendors. That's the scuttlebutt on the street and it usually means one thing: sales are up at dealerships. Looking at the headlines on automotive journals, it's clear to see that we are indeed in a general upswing in the industry.

As a result, this is the most dangerous time to be running a marketing department in the car business. It's also the most crucial time for dealers and general managers to act.

It's dangerous for the marketing/internet manager because it's very hard to tell what's working and what's not. You can look at the numbers for your SEO company, for example, and see upticks in traffic. Are their efforts making the difference or does it simply mean that more people are searching?

It's crucial for dealers and general managers because you have to keep the wave of enthusiasm high while looking towards the future with bold determination. There's a saying that goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This is incorrect in our industry. The reality is this:

  • If it's broken, fix it.
  • If it isn't broken, make it even better to prevent it from breaking in the future.

To quote the fictional Don Draper from Mad Men, "You don't want some of it. You want all of it and I won't stop until you get all of it."

Success can breed complacency. While few would classify themselves in the category of foolishly letting their guard down when things are good, it happens to most. With the incredible month that the industry just had, I can already see dealers letting their guard down. Requests for consultation calls are getting replies to the effect of "keep up the great work and we'll meet next month." Fewer leads came in over the last two weeks for us. Virtual high fives are being flung all across Facebook groups. This is a bad thing.

The demon that everyone in this industry must fight is the lingering joy of success. When we feel like we're on top of the world setting records and busting quotas, it's easy to think that everything is running on all 12 cylinders. This is the time more than any that you, as savvy DrivingSales-reading dealers and marketing managers, must fight the demon by recognizing that now is the perfect time to make things better. You don't wait for the holes to become obvious. You need to seek them out and quash them before they become more evident.

Here are a few reasons that you should start looking at changes now despite the good series of months:

  • Vendors are Hungry: We were on the phone with a dealership who had been paying an insane percentage to one of their advertising firms. After attempting to cancel several times during a single call, the agency relented to drop their service charge by over 70%. It begs the question: are they desperate to keep clients or are they really making that much extra on their services? My guess is both.
  • Good isn't Good Enough: So, you beat your quota. I've spoken to five clients in the last few days who broke company records. If you didn't do the same, you're not taking full advantage of this buying trend.
  • Gas is Dropping Again: Consumers are predictable. With gas down, higher-profit trucks and SUVs are in play once again. This probably won't last long. Can you afford to miss out?
  • The Money is There: Over the last year and a half, I've heard many dealers tell me they want to work with us or other premium vendors but they need to wait until they can increase their budget. Now's the time to increase the budget. Some of your competitors are. Again, just because it's working doesn't mean that it can't be made better.

Those are the reasons off the top of my head. There are others, of course, but you get the picture. Fight this demon. Complacency kills. Take something great and make it spectacular. Some will ride the wave all the way through. Others will drown just trying to stay on it. The few who beat their demon will rise above the wave to make a new source of success that only they can ride.

No matter how big the wave is, it eventually crashes down.

Legends and fools are both born more often during times of prosperity than times of despair. The difference is in how they handle the good times, never settling for "good enough."

Julie Jamison
Excellent read, JD! Someone said, "Fear is OK, it's complacency that will kill you!" Remaining successful requires the fear of being unsuccessful.

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