I was standing in the lobby of a hotel at the convention this past week waiting to meet some friends for dinner. I overheard a dealer introducing a person to someone as his CFO. That sort of introduction is certainly not unusual. For whatever reason, it brought to mind my Marine Corps days. One of the unique things about the Marines is that your title/job is irrelevant when it comes to war. Every Marine is a rifleman first and foremost or affectionately called a “Grunt.” A “Grunt” is the heart and soul of the Marine Corps.
As we all know, the sales department is the heart and soul of an Automobile Dealership. You can believe what you want, but trust me, nothing happens until we sell a car. The office has no work, and there are no parts and service sales. Quit selling cars and see how much work you eventually have for parts and service.
Since we are now in a war of survival I’d like to suggest you turn all of your people in to “Sales Grunts.” Every employee needs to become a sales person. Let’s pretend for a moment that you have 20 employees that don’t work in the sales department and let’s pretend that those 20 employees help generate one sale each this month. That’s 20 extra sales you didn’t have. Suppose you have 75 employees who don’t work in sales; that would be 75 extra sales this month. Do the multiplication; how many employees do you have that are not in the sales department? What would those extra numbers do to your bottom line? Even if you cut them in half, it will make a big difference.
Don’t leave anyone out, including the office staff. They all have friends and relatives who buy cars. More often than not they hear about it after the fact because they are not out promoting your dealership. Many years ago we dropped all titles on name badges and changed them to read “Customer Service.” These are different times so consider putting the word “Sales” on all your name badges.
You need to rally the troops and explain that they are now “sales grunts.” Try assigning all these people to a sales staff member and create teams with a “Team Objective” Assign a manager to each of these teams and have each team meet once a week to discuss strategy and where they stand toward reaching their objective of one car per person on the team. Publish or post a list each day of where they stand toward hitting their objective. Make a big deal out of this. I really don’t think you should have to pay them for these sales, but that’s your choice. They need to understand that our, and their, mere survival depends on them generating those extra sales. At the end of the month throw a “lunch party” to acknowledge those that hit their objective.
You might at first think my “Sales Grunt” idea is silly, but these people losing their jobs and/or you losing your business isn’t silly at all. Some of you are in a war of survival. For you to survive you need all hands on deck, armed and ready to fight. “Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country”. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs