An old Biblical passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes reads, in part, “there is no new thing under the sun.” These are profound words from a writer who obviously had lived long enough to witness firsthand how things — including history — have a way of repeating themselves.
We humans are creatures of habit. We have a strong urge to keep repeating things in our own lives because we can see the end results in our mind’s eye. Success breeds success in the same way failure can do the opposite — that is, unless we recognize the trend and put on the brakes.
And like an old favorite song or movie, this is true of mankind. I mean, if that movie or song was great the first time around, then it’s worth listening to again, wouldn’t you agree?
Even as I’m writing this right now, I’m thinking of my favorites, and I usually stop what I’m doing when I hear that song or see the movie playing when I’m channel-surfing.
Habits are easily understood and followed because we have an expectation of the results. The more frequently we do a thing, the more familiar and mechanized we become in its execution. If we’re not careful, it can become rote habit, meaning we’re just going through the motions and giving little conscious thought to what we’re doing.
In F&I, there are a great many things we must overcome every day to hit the mark we’re after. Not the least of these are Line 3 and Line 5 calls from finance sources. You work your butt off getting someone financed and then get your back-end limited by a bank. More frustration sets in when the customer can’t come up with enough cash to offset the situation. So you take the short deal and deliver the car.
Hitting a run of these kind of deals can easily have an effect on your approach if you’re not careful — especially when the finance company only allows you enough for GAP or a short-term powertrain service contract. Instead of letting your next customer choose, you do their thinking for them and only offer GAP and VSC. Next thing you know, your PPR has sunk along with your PVR and you can’t figure out why.
Bad habits can form when you stop following your training and get off track. Smart F&I managers realize when this is happening. They start cramming and bouncing ideas off their co-workers. They dig out old training materials and begin poring over them again — YouTube videos, training articles, and anything they can get their hands on to right the ship.
Now, they’re not going to find anything new or a major revelation, and they know it. What they’re looking for is something to reinvigorate themselves or spark an idea. Maybe even some inspiration from a training class they sat through in the past or a close they haven’t used in a while.
It’s kind of like a master technician who is stumped on an electronic or mechanical issue he can’t solve. He digs out those old tech manuals, blows off the dust, and starts to dig in, trying to figure out what he’s overlooking. In most cases, the answers is staring him right in the face. Then, suddenly, the lightbulb goes off! He remembers that seldom-used tool stored way back in his tool chest. He slaps his forehead and says to himself, “I can’t believe I forgot I had this tool!”
For the tech, it isn’t a new tool or some great revelation from above. Nope. It was simply a pause on his part to return to the basics of his training.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said that “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Work habits and deal conditions can cause us to easily dismiss the reasons why customer acceptance of our products fade. More likely than not, it’s because we’re not applying the necessary tools of our trade preferring to rely on the same habitual actions.
Every time I pick up a trade journal or open up an online blog ready to absorb more knowledge, I’m reminded of another old adage: “Everything old is new again.”
My message to you this month is to revisit those old closing ideas and objection-handling techniques. You might be surprised just how well they still work — kind of like that old familiar song.
Good luck and keep closing.