As a kid, I always looked forward to spring — well, except when Mom would hand out her list of chores for my brother and me. It was an annual occurrence that meant spring cleaning was in full effect, and, boy, did I detest it. Looking back, I suppose her reasoning was to clean out all the junk that had accumulated during the fall and winter months when the weather was too miserable to deal with it.
As much as I disliked this annual ritual, I do recall the feeling of accomplishment when everything was done. There seemed to be more space and order. Our rooms felt cleaner and the look of satisfaction on Mom’s face meant we were ready to enjoy the summer. Of course, the threat of Dad’s belt was all the motivation we needed to carry out her orders.
Here at Langdale Ford, it’s time to make sure our offices and our pitches are in order so we can enjoy the summer selling season. We’re all creatures of habit, and, sometimes, bad habits sneak into our process without us realizing. So, we need to clear that stuff out and fix things we just haven’t had time to address. I’ve put together a list of seven areas you can target for spring cleaning. The good news is this list is a lot more profitable than the one my mom handed out.
1. Go Online: Let’s face it, the Internet has become an integral part of a consumer’s car-shopping process. If you don’t have a process for handling today’s digital “ups,” you need to get cracking. First, you need to assess the connection between your office and your business development center (or Internet department). How’s the interaction? Has it improved over the years? I wrote about the process I established at my store last month. You can check out the column by clicking here. And hey, if this old war horse can operate in the Internet age, you can, too.
2. Beat the Subprime Blues: Are you losing deals to competitors with successful subprime departments? Take a look at your subprime lender mix and determine if you should add a few. Also, do you understand the buying habits of the ones you currently use? If not, then start familiarizing yourself with their programs. You might be surprised what by they can do.
3. Get Primed: How are your prime and nearprime lender rosters working out for you? Do you have a few that will buy those severely overadvanced deals? Hey, the credit markets are coming back, especially auto finance, and there are sources out there buying in the 130 to 140 percent range. So dust off your book and take a hard look.
4. Reality Check: Nothing gets our attention like a good dose of reality. So, pull out your first-quarter logs to see how you did vs. last year. Identify where you were weak and make adjustments accordingly. Do the same for the first half of the year and come up with a forecast for the rest of 2012.
5. Make a New Plan, Stan: What we often think is the best way to run our office may actually be the exact opposite. George Angus, regular contributor to F&I and Showroom, always says: “Never marry an idea, because the divorce is too painful.” So, be brave enough to reexamine your processes.My friend Gerry Gould, director of training for United Development Systems, uses a cool acronym in his training. It’s called GOYA, or get off your ass. I never believed in leaving my office to meet and greet customers in the showroom. I still don’t, but I do get out of my office to see what’s going on out there and ask if I can be of assistance.
6. Set Those Goals: If “I’m gonna get all I can” is your only goal, how can you measure your progress month to month? That’s why I write down my goals, because I need to know where I’m going if I want to get there. 7. Greed Is Good: If you’re sick and tired of your profit per vehicle retailed languishing in the back of your closet like a forgotten pair of shoes, then make up your mind that you’re going to do something about it. Set a date with your wife for a nice vacation in Maui or sign the buyer’s order for that new 335 Bayliner Cruiser. Money makes these dreams come true, so start asking for more when you make a presentation. Hone your closing skills and get the money!
No one hates spring cleaning more than I do. I’d rather be using that time puffing on my cigars, but I know it helps and I get more accomplished. Remember this: if you keep on doing things the same way you’ve always done it, you’re going to continue getting the same results. And expecting your numbers to improve without changing the way you do your job is the definition of insanity.
Marv Eleazer is the finance manager at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. E-mail him at [email protected].