I have an old friend, Kevin McHugh, who gave me some great advice a number of years ago. I was in the process of trading some stock in a Virginia dealership for stock in a Toyota dealership in Tallahassee, FL. With franchises like Pontiac, Volvo, Isuzu, Hyundai and Suzuki located in Chesapeake, VA, who wouldn’t want to move on to Toyota in Tallahassee, FL?
Kevin’s advice was “Tommy, now is the time to re-make yourself.” When he first said that I thought, why would I want to re-make myself? I was already a pretty darn good car guy. His point was that when you set sail on a new adventure, new opportunity, or as is the case today a major drop in sales volume it’s the point in time that you can correct your known deficiencies and become a new you.
I gave his advice a lot of thought and set about to attack and make changes in my management style in those areas that I felt needed improvement. Those changes allowed me and my new team to maximize our potential and build a strong dealership.
Is now the time to re-make yourself? Absolutely. As bad as the situation is in the car industry, this presents a golden opportunity for you and your dealership. Sad but true, some in the business are not going to make it and that is an absolute tragedy, but those that do survive have an opportunity to start with a fresh sheet of paper and a legitimate excuse to remake themselves if they in fact needed an excuse.
Every dealer in the business is making cuts and analyzing what is and what is not necessary from personnel, to inventory levels, to advertising and everything in between. It’s the perfect time to reshape your management team and what your expectations and accountability levels will and will not be. Mediocrity is not an option anymore. If you have not been tough enough, now is the time to toughen up. If you have in fact been tough in the past, now is the time to get even tougher. If you have not been a good numbers cruncher, now is the time to get good. If you have been a good numbers cruncher now is the time to get better. (Please join a Twenty Group and go to the meetings.)
You have now learned through this crisis (call it what you want) that you cannot keep people around that do not perform and are not willing to adapt to a changing market. Far too many of us having been keeping people for the wrong reasons. Good guy/gal, been with us a long time, so loyal, like family. Bull Crap. If you want to stay in business, you need to rethink what these people really bring to the table. I can fully appreciate loyalty, but far too often we confuse loyalty with good business sense. I can guarantee you that when we come out of this it will never be business as usual for you again. This experience is going to shape the rest of your life, be it good or bad. Even those who don’t like the changes will understand.
I don’t know how you would define the word crisis, but if you research history I think you will find that many prosper after wars, downturns in the economy, etc. There is opportunity ahead for those that take action. This opportunity to remake yourself will only occur a few times in your life. I have no way of knowing your position or situation in life. Whether you are a Dealer, Manager, Sales Person, or something else in the automobile business, I know that there are so few opportunities to make a “New You.” This is that moment in time that you need to grab a hold of the opportunity staring you in the face. Don’t be afraid of it, embrace it, and as the Nike commercial says “just do it.” If you’ve not already read my newsletter titled “Buckets,” go to the bottom of this newsletter and do so. Apply those three principles in buckets and it will go a long way towards helping you remake yourself.
I want to leave you with one final thought. Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankees catcher had many famous quotes. One of my all time favorites is, "If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else". That’s all I’m gonna say.