The car business exists in a constant state of flux. As independent agents, we have to step back and evaluate the business during the good and the bad times. Consistently growing the skills and knowledge level of all our team members is as critical when the money is flowing as it is in an economic downturn. It is simply human nature when things are going well to spend the money, take the business we have for granted and neglect the need to always be ahead of the competition. This leads to a “sales up, guard down” mindset.
For the sake of your agency and the dealers you serve, you must never allow complacency to become a barrier to F&I production.
The list of companies that let their guard down is filled with those that are trying to catch up in markets they used to lead. Names like Blockbuster, Kodak and Motorola strike immediate perceptions of companies that took their success for granted. At the height of their success, no one could imagine anyone challenging their domination of the market. Yet they were all surpassed by those who consistently worked to improve. I am more convinced than ever that perseverance plays the largest part of success.
Here are two things we can learn from those companies so we do not duplicate their mistakes:
1. Bad habits are developed during good times and have a way of revealing their consequences long after they have taken root. You must constantly be looking for ways to improve your products and services and stay one step ahead of your clients. Good companies don’t succeed by playing it safe and sticking to what they know; they’re always experimenting with new angles, new services and more efficient approaches. These efforts can seem unnecessary, or at least back burners in priority, when we have plenty of business and are growing year after year. However, the consequences of the lack of focus will eventually show up when the market slows down. The time to grow the skills of your team and fine-tune your processes to maximize profits is always; good times and bad!
2. It is critical to build a resilient, flexible business that is ready to take advantage of opportunities and respond to challenges in the market in days, not months. When the CEO of Blockbuster was told in 2008 that both Netflix and Redbox posed a threat to their dominance of the market, he responded with a defiant attitude.
Neither Redbox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition. It’s more Walmart and Apple.
Blockbuster could not change because they would not change. They felt invincible! We all have been lulled to sleep by the sound of success; however, it must never silence the call for improvement. As independent agents, we are counted on to make dealers aware of changes in the market and how to address them. We must not be so engrossed in our current success that we lose the desire to help each dealership grow and change in order to stay out front of their competition. We help them grow when we grow.
Companies often develop good habits in bad times and bad habits in good times. Times are good now. Independent agents who find a way to grow in the good times will both survive and thrive during the inevitable downturns. But for now, make 2017 a record year and adjust and grow all the way through!