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Shop Talk: You Say You Want a Resolution

Because of holiday deadlines, I’m writing my new year article with some turkey left over from Thanksgiving and scraps of wrapping paper as I get gifts ready for Christmas. As many of you are reading this, resolutions made a short time ago are already broken. You may have skipped a workout or two at the gym, snuck out for a smoke or smuggled a pint of “Ben and Jerry’s” into your hiding place. No judgement from me.

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 But how do you keep your dealership on track for the year you want to have, even though none of us can really predict what kind of year is ahead? Without advanced planning, the answer is, you can’t. However, using a two-focus approach will most certainly keep you on track to creating the year you want rather than accepting the one you’ll have.

Microscope – Telescope Focus

To see the big picture off in the distance, a telescope brings that far away goal closer to you. Plan your year thinking with that kind of focus. Project a percentage increase in sales, parts, service and F&I. Be specific. The more specific, the more focused. Then, look at your forecast and add one very important ingredient — honesty.

 If you are honest with yourself, it will give rise to questions. Those questions will determine if you are sincere about your objectives as well as committed to achieving them. These questions and their answers will help develop strategies that will increase your chances at success. Here are a few:

  • Do I have the talent here to reach those levels? (Creating a hiring plan will be helpful)
  • Are my people trained enough to reach these levels? (Shop, sales and F&I training)
  • Are my marketing strategies going to increase the traffic in all departments? (budget, media and time for advertising)
  • Can my parts and service department keep up with this increase in sales? (You can’t “grow and staff.” Rather, “staff and grow into the staff.”)

 There are more questions that can be asked, if you’re willing to honestly take action based on the answers. The answers will lead to specifics in each area of improvement on your list. Once you have this, it’s time to shift the focus from the telescope to the microscope.

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Micro-focus allows you to see, evaluate and adjust on a much smaller level. For simplicity, let’s say you want to increase sales by 120 units this year. Telescopically, that’s what you determined should be a goal for the sales side of your operation. Managing that goal requires a narrower focus and much more clarity — the microscope.

Microscopic offers more detail over a smaller area. That’s what is required here. You just need to determine how detailed you need to be. The more detail, the more control you have in achieving what you set out to do. Check this out.

If 120 units is the goal and you stopped here, there’s a good chance you will get to June and realize that if you haven’t sold 60, the goal just became more difficult because you have to make up ground and then get back on track. But, after six months, it’s difficult at best to get people cranking out excitement about something you came up with last winter.

With a microscope, we can really focus in. 120 units over a year is 10 units per month or two to 2.5 units per week. Two units per week would require six to 12 extra customers per week or one to two per day. If we sell one out of three appointments, we could just make sure we have at least one additional appointment per day.

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Which is easier? Trying to recover after six months or blowing off a day and then trying to get two appointments for tomorrow?

Once the grand plan is set, focusing with a microscope, or really managing your operation on a daily basis, will allow for failing at things, but since you’ve reduced it to a daily check, the most you would lose is a day. It is much easier to recover from a bad day instead of a year going bad when you’re six months in.

My year is planned. I have a goal for how many trainings, consulting gigs and subscriptions I want to have for the year. Okay. So what? The key is, I’ve reduced the goal to what I have to do on a daily basis to stay on track to making those projections a reality. For some, the difference is the willingness to ask the right questions and to be honest about the answers.

A final note: as a trainer, I would be remiss if I didn’t advise you to not only put this plan in motion for the store, but also teach the plan to your people. Imagine if each of them raised their goals, then focused on daily activities necessary to reach them. You’d hit your target every year going forward and then some.

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John Fuhrman is the senior trainer for Performance Road Agency. He has trained over 15,000 sales, F&I and management professionals for retail operations and dealerships across the US. Performance Road is one of the only agencies with a 100% sales software reimbursement program which can eliminate all CRM, menu, desking costs. They are the first agency offering subscription training to all dealers. If you’d like to ask him a question, or discuss your dealership situation, email him at [email protected]

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