The Six Stages

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente at the University of Rhode Island developed a theory called the Stages of Change (SOC) Model when they were studying how smokers were able to give up their habit.

The SOC model applies to all types of changes including those in your dealership or any business for that matter.

Don’t poo poo this. You are in one of these stages regardless of how good or bad you think your operation might be. Moving into the next stage could be positive or negative. The key is for you to recognize which stage you are in and to take control of where you are in order to improve what you are doing.

Stage 1-Precontemplation is the stage at which there is no intention to change behavior in the foreseeable future. Many individuals in this stage are unaware or under-aware of their problems. In your business it’s the “everything is ok” mentality so why even think about doing anything different? Denial plays a big part in this stage as does the “we’ve always done it this way so let’s not rock the boat.”

Stage 2-Contemplation is the stage in which people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously thinking about overcoming it but have not yet made a commitment to take action. The majority of the dealers around the country are in this stage. They know they have problems but don’t have the courage to attack them. This is also known as the “fear stage.” The fear of losing people and that making changes will only make matters worse. Often dealers decide to move out of this stage after things have gotten so bad that there is little hope. (Hello new owners.)

Stage 3-Preparation is the stage that combines intention and behavioral criteria. Individuals in this stage are intending to take action in the next one to three months and have unsuccessfully taken action in the past year. Finally, yes finally, you have made a major decision that you have to get it fixed once and for all. You join a Twenty Group, go to a convention or workshop in order to seek the best advice and direction to take. After you’ve heard from multiple sources that Tommy Gibbs can fix your mess in the used car department you finally give him a call 850-251-2310. (Oh come on, smile, I just had to throw that in.)

Stage 4-Action is the stage in which individuals modify their behavior, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioral changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy. You have decided to make discipline and processes part of your daily diet. You have decided that one way or the other you are going to make it happen. Your message to the staff is “the rest of you can get on the train or get run over by it.” This is the most exciting stage of all. You start to see the results of the changes you’ve made in your bottom line and you keep asking yourself what the heck took you so long?

Stage 5-Maintenance is the stage in which people work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains attained during action. This stage extends from six months to an indeterminate period past the initial action. This is the “grind it out” stage. This is the “getting on everyone’s nerves” stage. This is when you find out a lot about who you are and your commitment to excellence. This is when your “will” is truly tested. This is when many of your key players start to let things unravel. They get lazy, lose their discipline, and want to take the easy way.

Stage 6-Relapse is returning to older behaviors and abandoning the new changes. This is the evaporation stage. Over time you just start to give up. Not worth the fight. Everyone has now fallen into their comfort zone and is just kind of happy with the way things are.

At some point during the “relapse stage,” Stage 1 will reappear and it all starts over again.

What stage are you in? That’s all I’m gonna ask.
Tommy Gibbs