The Habitual Dealer
By Rod Stuckey
January 20, 2008
Have you ever read the book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey? With more than 15 million copies sold, this book was named as one of the top 10 most influential books of all time by Forbes Magazine. That made me start thinking of what the seven habits of highly effective powersports dealers should be. I spent many years of successfully identifying some of the right and wrong ways of operating four franchised dealerships in Atlanta, Georgia. Since then, I've been fortunate enough to have exposure to hundreds of dealers in many different markets. Some have been really good, and some really bad.
Let's take a look at the seven habits of highly effective powersports dealers.
Develop A Marketing Plan: "We waste half of our money on advertising; the only problem is we don't know which half." Isn't this the truth? Top dealers have a marketing budget, which is consistently spent in the areas that generate the most sales leads for the investment. Some dealers go by 1% of total sales and others take a more conservative approach of $50 per unit sold (based on forecast unit sales). This means you'd better get good at smiling and saying "no thank you" to all of the different people who have the solution to your advertising needs. The money is in the metal and one of the best ways to sell more units is to generate more sales leads through a strong consistent marketing plan.
Have A Selling System: Today's effective dealers have a sales team who know how to properly welcome customers to the dealership, interview and investigate to determine customer's wants and needs, develop rapport, perform value-building presentations and ask for the sale. Their sales managers have implemented an accurate traffic log or CRM so they can quantify floor traffic, advertising reach, diagnose individual salesperson's strengths' and weaknesses and follow up with sold and unsold customers. But that's not all these dealers also have a strong selling system in place for the parts and accessories and service departments.
Foster A Customer Satisfaction Culture: We're selling fun! The Internet will never be able to compete with a store whose employees smile, call customers by their first names, care about their appearance and hygiene and generally treat people the way they would like to be treated. Service after the sale leads to more repeat and referral business. It's much less expensive to keep existing customers than buy new ones.
named Stephen R. Covey one of the 25 most influential Americans. His Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
has inspired this list of habits for dealers to live by. Covey's newest book The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness To Greatness
is another must-read to help you and your staff reach fulfillment in the workplace. In the book, Covey unveils that in a survey of 23,000 full-time employees holding key positions in key industries, only 50% said they were satisfied with the work they have accomplished at the end of the week. "Perhaps the most important vision of all is to develop a sense of self, a sense of your own destiny, a sense of your unique mission and role in life, a sense of purpose and meaning," says Covey. Even in a passion-driven industry, many of us have lost our flame this book will help you make a habit of fulfillment for you and everyone surrounding you.
Emphasize Finance & Insurance: Although it may take a little extra effort to get set up with all of the F&I products available and learn how to sell them, it's well worth it. Today's effective dealers are using menus to provide full disclosure while offering 100% of the products to 100% of the people. The F&I office can really be the most profitable square footage in the dealership and add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bottom line with the exact same number of units sold.
Compile Timely, Accurate Financial Data: Do you have an accountant on staff with a degree? Compiling daily reports, profit and loss, balance sheets, and cash flow statements is not a job for an amateur. Believe it or not, accountants are usually much easier to recruit than good department managers. Making business decisions with your gut and emotions does not cut it for today's effective dealers. Accurate data should be the key component for decision-making and goal setting. When a company with publicly traded stock admits to inaccurate financials, their stock plummets and experts say don't walk, but run away from that stock!
Control Your Inventory: Pre-owned inventory can eat cash for breakfast, not to mention lunch and dinner. Have you ever looked at your profit and loss statement and seen a nice profit only to look at your checkbook and wonder where all the money went? It's in your P&A inventory, it's on your front sidewalk and even in repair orders that are complete, but not cashiered. Closely analyzing sales history is well worth the effort and spending the extra time on ordering new units can make a huge difference in floor plan expense. Today's effective dealers know their inventory inside and out for not only new and used units, but parts, accessories and service.
Follow Systems And Processes: Although you may argue that McDonalds doesn't have the greatest hamburger, you can't argue that McDonalds hasn't built an incredible business. How do they get ordinary people to consistently produce the exact same product at thousands of locations? How do Starbucks and the Ritz Carlton do it? The answer is systems. Today's effective dealers have documented powerful systems in place and those systems run the dealership. This doesn't make people any less important (the people run those systems), it just means that they can play the game better because they know the rules. Imagine how confused and ineffective football players would be if the game had no systems or rules. The clearer the rules, the better the players can play the game.
The great news is that good habits are like bad habits, once you form them, they are hard to break!