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Business Management

The Storm… Before The Calm

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Time To Reverse Your Thinking

You’ve probably heard the expression “The Calm Before The Storm” before. However that logic is backwards. Technically, calm is a result of the storm… which means it comes afterward – not before the storm. Time to forget what cliches the TV weatherman may be using and reverse your thinking!

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Martha Beck, America’s life coach and founder of the Martha Beck Institute, speaks of self-awareness this way. Pastor Talbot Davis has even published a book by this title, speaking to people trying to make sense of life’s storms. So let’s talk about business as the storm before the calm.

Think of the calmer periods in your business as the time to practice what you learned during the previous “storms.” As you motorcycle industry veterans know, it always starts out tumultuously and fearfully… before it gets any quieter and easier. Learned lessons come after a battle. No one learns how to make peace until they become disgusted by war… same holds true for our industry.

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In order to feel relief, we must first feel pain. In order to steer our ship straighter, we need to survive “storms.” Do you notice that every storm is different from the previous one? Meteorologists even give tropical storms and hurricanes names to differentiate them from one another because each has its own surprises, speeds, directions and consequences. So too with business storms. You might consider giving names to your business’s storms so you remember the associated lessons. Recall Rene, DMS Devils, Franchisor Fran, Turnover Teri, Barnburner Barbara, Handout Hannah, Cashflow Cassie… the list of storms blasting your business gets longer and longer, doesn’t it?

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Call it what you will, the storm before the calm begins a long time before we sense its arrival. Then suddenly, it is upon us. Financial stress, inventory woes, unexpected incidents, illnesses, recession, sales slumps, employee drama, low floor traffic, technology adaptation… the list goes on. Although we constantly envision a perfect business scenario, there is always something that blocks the pathway to easy success.

These “storms” are simply obstacles which need to be navigated. Your competitors may not have exactly the same storms on their radar, but you can be assured they have them too.

You might recall a quote from industry guru and former MPN columnist, John Wyckoff: “Business is solving problems. Without problems (to solve), there would be no business. And if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”

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Fundamentally, you are a problem solver or storm navigator. That’s what you do as a businessperson – make it easier for others to spend their earnings for the solutions you have to offer. The customer has a desire to satisfy, an itch to scratch, or a problem that needs solving… you just have to steer them to that proper solution in your dealership.

Now some of you may say this is a negative outlook – as in the glass is half empty rather than half full. Agreed, but know the customer’s own personal “storms” must be endured on the way to achieving his own state of calm. Help him navigate. As a customer with a new motorcycle in my garage and a new UTV
in my barn, I now have a state of calm my local dealer helped me achieve.

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Martha Beck states “…the storm isn’t a curse, but preparation for the blessing. I feel the pain ease. Before the disease heals. Before the rent is paid. The calm doesn’t come because the storm is over. It comes because I moved into truth. Truth is always calm.”

Deep! And directly applicable to your dealership. In looking back at your old storms, do you think they were caused by a lack of truth? Hmmm. So who do you think keeps creating these storms in our path? Could it possibly be ourselves avoiding the truth about our business? Definitely something to think about the next time you have a little calm after the storms!

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STORM SURVIVAL: What’s Your Plan?

Do you have an earthquake or tornado kit at home? First aid kit and tools in your vehicles? How about Storm Survival & Preparedness Kit for your business? Without such preparations, the loss of control becomes the center of the storm. To prevent future misfortune, our storm-savvy human brain learns to protect our assets and investments. We learn as we survive each storm in our life and business.

Build a wall, dig a shelter, fletch more arrows, hoard ammo, stash cash or diversify supply lines. It’s a natural survival mechanism whether you are living in the Pleistocene Era or modern times. We were all caught with our “pants down” during the recent recession and never want it happen again… so now we wear suspenders and a belt for our businesses!

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What’s your plan for a Storm Survival & Preparedness Kit for the business? Here are six survival tips to keep from getting caught in the next business storm:

1. Products. Diversify. Variable price points. Quick replenishment. Well known. Trusted.
2. Inventory. Flexible. Not too much or too little. Change selection often… or on a dime.
3. Cash on hand. You need more than you think. Know trigger points/actions in advance to stop excess bleeding before it happens.
4. Human Capital. Retention, turn-over and compensation. This is a relationship-driven industry which sells mostly recreational goods. Invest in human capital and sell fun.
5. Diversification. Have something for everyone – products & services – at multiple budget levels.
6. Critical Care Directions. Know where and when to implement these changes in advance of having to.

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If you have been trained in CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, weapons handling or business survival, then you are more likely to be prepared… and not just paranoid. The panic caused by a storm heading toward your powersports business will be less severe when you are expecting it and ready. Once you have navigated through several storms, you learn to either power through them… or simply “bunny hop” straight to the calm on the other side!

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