The countdown to football season is in full swing with it only being a couple months away. That being said, many direct parallels can be drawn between game-winning strategies on a football field to being successful in a dealership.
Head coaches discuss the key to success relies on their offense, defense and special teams operating cohesively. As a dealer or manager, that translates to you developing a good plan, communicating it, and executing it. Your team consists of sales, service, marketing and Internet teams firing on all cylinders.
Two statements are common after a defeat: “On any given day anything can happen.” and “The other team just wanted it more.” For me the first comment is somewhat more palatable than the second. Dealerships though, having paid professionals, cannot blame defeat with the second excuse. Plus, there are no off weeks or practices. Winning and losing is literally everything. That’s pressure, and it comes with the “what have you done for me lately?” measuring stick.
The foundation of the successful dealerships that I work with is their discipline to designing, communicating and implementing a plan. Their plan does not focus on just one aspect because success is a balanced attack on the market at every level. On any given day, anything can happen when you draw up the right play but you need to be prepared. I am thrilled when a dealer plans a special event at their dealership and puts everyone on the same page and then conquers the competition. Success is not won singlehandedly with just one plan of attack through TV, Internet, Direct Mail or Social Media. You may hit a single big play now and then, but when you come at your market with a united media front you will be recognized as a forceful contender.
The harshest reality of our business that parallels a sport is that employees are hired and fired based on performance. You must win to be successful and that means selling cars. The best operators are clear on the difference between managing and meddling. Decisions may be a result of a gut feeling but generally are based on experience. Experience is the best teacher but very little of it happens by accident. You prepare for success by anticipating every angle and utilizing every tool. Each day comes with the realization that no two days, events, clearances, customers or Internet inquiries are going to be exactly alike! Therein lies the importance of repetitive execution as well as accountability for sustaining success. It has to happen now. You rarely can take off one play and hope to make it up the next.
It’s the time of year when the phrase “Just Announced by (insert factory name here)” becomes a huge factor in the marketing plan. Incentives tied to clearance are a proven consumer tipping point. The additional savings advantage needs to be communicated instantly up and down the dealership and through every communication channel your market accesses. There is so much talk about the time a shopper is in the “funnel” but those extra hundreds of dollars off can be the accelerator, now it really is game-on! More trade-ins coming on the lot put pressure on the Internet team to get those posted. Inventory might become short on bestsellers, so now is the time to contact previous shoppers by phone or email to pass the word about why today is REALLY the time to buy. Is your receptionist answering each call with news about your big event? Everyone in the game can make a difference. Every play counts and they are paid to do it!
I read articles about players coming together for a team meeting to clear the air about performance and accountability. The difficulty of sustaining performance is a hurdle for any team, especially in our business where the final days of any month are crunch time. But unique to our game – there is no final gun – whether it’s the 1st or 20th day of the month, you have got to work the plan and surround yourself with people who execute it because they want IT more every day!
John Paul Strong
John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 140 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive Merchandising.