by Chip Thomas
If you are a retail automobile salesperson, think of yourself from this day forward as being a business within a business, because that's exactly what you are. You must then operate this "small business" in the most efficient and productive manner possible. Mentally and actively approach your selling career in this fashion - only then can you realize your full potential.
How often are people set up in business for themselves without an initial capital investment? Well, most car dealers provide your office space - no charge; your materials - no charge; your inventory - no charge; a full service, parts, and administrative staff for you - no charge. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? It's not -it's reality! All you have to invest is your time, your effort, and your energy.
It's a fact that most small businesses fail within the first two years. This unfortunate situation appears to hold true for automobile salespeople as well. How can you avoid being a casualty? There is no secret - there is no perfect solution - but there are a few proven and effective methods for success. Of course you must have a positive attitude and lots of enthusiasm; but these must be accompanied by A) Time management, organization, and planning, and B) Networking and follow-up.
These days, the average customer is sharper, more knowledgeable, and more shrewd than ever before. In addition, he or she continually expects "more" for "less". Combine these facts with the reality that there are now more automobiles available and less quality difference between them and what do you have? A truly competitive situation with a seemingly impossible solution as far as the salespeople and dealer are concerned - notice I wrote "seemingly".
There is an answer. As a retail salesperson, a well-thought-out, systematic approach to this business will still yield big dividends. If you want different results with anything, there has to be change - change the equation, change the result; change the input, change the output. If you want to improve your productivity, shuffle up your approach to the business, your approach to each day - just try it. Before long, these changes become routine and habit - that's when it gets "fun"; you're then able to put things on autopilot and reap the benefits.
The changes I am referring to are simple:
What does all this mean? It means doing it right every day, all the time. It's about being a professional. Professionalism means knowledge, preparation, implementation, and execution. Operate your "small business within the big business" in this fashion and you will see a nice increase in your bottom line.
by Chip Thomas
When I ask people if they would like to do better (career-wise) this year than last, they say, "Absolutely, yes!" When I then ask what they plan to do to accomplish this they respond: "I'm going to work harder, have a better attitude and have more enthusiasm." These things are admirable and, of course, essential to being successful at anything.
However, in the final analysis, such pursuits do not always yield noticeable improvement. There simply cannot be significant improvement without practice, and/or education, and/or change.
Let's look at the response: "work harder." What exactly does that mean? With most, it translates into putting in a fifty-hour work week instead of forty, or moving to sixty hours instead of fifty. Unfortunately, these extra hours are just that - extra hours- simply meaning: additional "wasted" or "unproductive" time. We must learn to work smarter, not harder. You must discipline yourself to fill your day with useful activities.
Practice, practice, practice - nothing takes the place of it. The best sports teams in the world spend many more hours practicing than they do actually competing. Top golfers hit hundreds more balls off the practice tee than they do in a tournament. We must have a similar approach and mentality - rehearse doing a proper "meeting and greeting" - practice executing a thorough "walkaround" presentation. These activities will pay big dividends.
Education is essential for advancement in any career. Become a student of the game. Spend a few minutes each day reading product information. Take time each week to familiarize yourself with current factory programs - they change constantly. Attend personal and professional development seminars periodically. Do all of these things consistently and you will become a "pro," and everyone likes to deal with a "pro."
One definition of insanity: to keep doing things the same way you've been doing them, but think and assume you're going to get a different result. If you add two plus two together, the answer is four. If you add two plus two together next week, the answer is four. Guess what it's going to be next year? Four. The only way to change the answer to five is to change one of your twos to a three. When you change the input, you change the output - alter the equation, change the result. Get the picture? If you're not pleased with your current situation or results, change your system, change your day, change your approach. What do you have to lose?
Remember: Practice, educate yourself, and implement change - you will then automatically enter an arena of improvement and increased earnings, and that is certainly a wonderful place to be.
by Chip Thomas
We've all heard the old saying: "April showers bring May flowers." Guess what? April prospecting brings May sales, too. Springtime is here and there's no better time to plant seeds for future business than now.
Lot traffic typically increases this time of year. You should be working hard to ensure that those prospective buyers don't just travel to any lot, but to your lot. How do you accomplish this? You begin by letting everyone you've sold in the past be aware that you are still alive and well at your respective store. Unfortunately, most people that purchase a new or used vehicle cannot remember their salesperson's name one year later. This is because most salespeople do little if any follow-up.
Let's devise a plan to contact our entire customer base over the course of the month. Let's say you have 300 customers and you plan on working 22 days- that's 13 or 14 calls per day. Think you can't do it? Think again! The average salesperson has 3 or 4 hours a day of down time. You can complete those calls in half that time. Obviously, if you have a larger clientele, you'll have to spread the calls over an extended period, but you get the idea. You'll be amazed when one or more sales result from the calls.
In addition to prospecting for business from previous customers, try other approaches as well: run your own ad in the newspaper, take brochures and business cards to places with which you do business (dry cleaners, hair salon, restaurants), or join a local civic club or organization. The list goes on and on. If you sit at the dealership and wait for things to happen, you know from past experience, they probably won't.
Remember, it's Springtime:
by Chip Thomas
Did you ever observe that there are a few people at the dealership who move a little quicker than the others? They are not necessarily in a hurry and don't appear rushed, but there is a noticeable spring in their step, an undeniable purpose with which they engage daily activities.
If you are one of these people - and you know who you are - your day passes swiftly and with ease. The drive home finds you filled with a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of fulfillment.
If you are not one of these individuals, I'll bet you could list the names of those who are - even a casual observation tells the story. Guess what? By no accident, these salespeople also happen to be the top producers. Get the picture?
Successful people possess a "passion" that is displayed through their ability to move about with deliberate intent - in other words - they are on a mission. They go to work "to work."
I have a friend who is a retired manager of a successful restaurant. I asked him once how he happened to find so many good employees - his response: "I watched how they walked away after the initial job interview - and some I watched walk in. Over my 40 years of management, I discovered that the people who "sauntered in" or "sauntered out" made poor employees - While on the other hand, those who moved with purpose became employees who were productive and got things done." Pretty simple, don't you think?
Try adjusting your MPH (miles per hour) and you are likely to discover a nice increase in your MPG (miles per gallon) - a.k.a. YPC (your paycheck).
by Chip Thomas
We've all heard or read: Rule Number One: "Take care of the customer or someone else will." Is this, in fact, rule number one? I don't think so - Rule Number One should be: TAKE CARE OF YOUR INTERNAL CUSTOMER - YOUR EMPLOYEE - OR SOMEONE ELSE WILL. Then and only then will Rule Number 1A ("Take care of the customer or someone else will") apply. It's quite simple. Human nature dictates that one will treat others the way they are treated. If you are a business owner or manager, stop and consider this: Who has the most contact with your customer? Is it you? OF COURSE NOT - It's your frontline personnel - the salesperson, the service advisor, the counter-person, the cashier, and the switchboard operator. Come on, let's get with the program and focus on these individuals - THEY ARE "THE STRONGEST LINK" in your chain of customer reaction and satisfaction. Sam Walton once said: "If you want people in the stores to take care of the customers, you have to make sure you're taking care of the people in the stores. That's the most important single ingredient of Wal-Mart's success."
It's a known fact that in order to develop a customer that comes back again and again, we must exceed their expectations. We must do things for them that they do not expect. This enacts "loyalty." Likewise, if our goal is to have "loyal" employees, we should constantly look for ways to exceed their expectations. NADA research indicates that it costs an automobile dealer $8,000 to lose one salesperson that's been with them six months to two years and $30,000 to lose one that's been there several years. The average salesperson now lasts only ten months at a particular store - a top performer makes it five years before exiting, probably as a result of burnout. We must be smarter at recruiting, training, and retaining our personnel.
OK, business is good, profits are in line, return on investment is satisfactory - so the tendency is to be content with these results and ignore the analysis that is necessary to improve. You see, things don't stay the same - You're either improving or regressing, moving forward or falling behind. Good product, good location, good facility, good reputation are all for naught without one key ingredient: GOOD PEOPLE - better find 'em, and better yet, keep 'em, because as time goes on, the competition will stiffen and stiffen - ONLY YOUR PEOPLE WILL SEPARATE YOU FROM THE REST as we move further and further into the 21st century.