If you were in the car business in 2008-2009, then you remember the stress. Bank restrictions were intense; most were only approving 85% LTV in a time when it seemed like everyone was upside down. I was working for a small mom-and-pop dealership in America’s #1 county for foreclosures. My income dropped to 25% of what I had been making, but I was fortunate in some ways, because many people lost jobs and had to file bankruptcy. It was a scary time, but we survived.
Just like the phoenix who rises from its ashes, we can also become better and stronger on the other side of this chaos.
Most of us thought we’d seen the worst. Then COVID-19 arrived. It feels a bit like the world is on fire, but there’s hope. The phoenix is a mythological bird that lives for hundreds of years, dies a fiery death, and then rejuvenates itself from the ashes. How can we rise like a phoenix after it feels like we’ve been on fire?
Schedule a ‘Worry Time’
Do you remember reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” when you were younger? It’s told from the perspective of a young girl trying to understand the drama of her small Southern town. She’d often ask her father if it was time to worry, and he’d always reassure her: “It’s not time to worry yet.”
Worry is something we all do occasionally, but it can be unhealthy when we obsess. When we sell out of desperation, our customers feel it. When we slow down and take the time to engage with the customer, our customers respond. Therapists suggest a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique, setting aside time specifically to work through the things that may worry us. Instead of dwelling on the topic every time it crosses our mind, we should schedule a time for the sole purpose of considering what is causing us to feel anxious, nervous, or concerned.
When we set aside that worry time, we can focus on the present without subjecting ourselves to more worry. We can ask ourselves three questions during our “worry time”: Have I done everything I can to mitigate the stress? If yes, can I set aside that worry and get on with life? If no, what can I change to help things?
Look for Learning Opportunities
One way to help change things is to look for learning opportunities. Anyone furloughed or laid off is going to feel a financial stress, but, hopefully, the positive is they get quality time with their families. Someone still working, but with a fraction of current business, can use their time to focus on honing their craft or mastering bank programs.
We can also reassess how we take care of ourselves. Many of us in the car business make a really good living, but many of us spend every dime we make – or more than we make. This time can help us all to re-think our standards of living. We can also learn to find peace. Exercise if that helps you. Take a nap if you need it. Spend time with your family, even if the family is furry and has a tail. Whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, do it.
Rise Like a Phoenix
Bob Marley sang “Everythings Gonna’ Be Alright.” I’m neither advocating nor judging his relaxation method, but we need to have confidence that everything will be fine. Believe in yourself and in your talent. Learn from the challenges and stay positive. Just like the phoenix who rises from its ashes, we can also become better and stronger on the other side of this chaos.
Lori Church is an experienced F&I manager, a graduate of the University of Denver’s Sturn College of Law, and director of compliance for Holman Automotive.