“Image is everything,” tennis star Andre Agassi says in a Nikon camera ad. But in these tough times, attitude is much more important to the survival of auto dealers.
There are clearly a lot of things dealers don't control — the economy, the type of cars your manufacturer makes, interest rates and lender rules. But you do control your attitude and that can affect how you respond to the current business crisis.
A couple of years ago, I was speaking with a dealer in Buffalo, NY, a city that can experience some rough winters. I said it must be really tough trying to sell cars there in January and February.
His eyes lit up, he slammed his fist on the desk and said, “That's when I grab market share!” Clearly he was not going to let himself or his people succumb to the “woe is me” syndrome.
He obviously does not control the weather, but his attitude is one of finding ways to win despite the adverse circumstances. As a result he not only grabs market share but his store has consistently been a sales leader in the country during these months!
In meeting dealers across the country, I see many different reactions to the current crisis. If you own domestic franchises, your task is more difficult. But regardless of the brand, some dealers refuse to focus on the negatives. Instead, they are challenging themselves and their employees to find new solutions to saving money and making money.
Staying positive is often difficult to do, especially when we are being barraged by negative news. Not only are you impacted by this, but all of your employees are as well. At times, it seems everyone wants to share how bad it is. “You think your situation is bad, try selling my brand!”
It is easy to get sucked into gloom-doom thinking which can debilitate your productivity. At that point, it feels like you are walking in quicksand and your energy is drained. Fortunately, this is not a feeling which you don't control, but rather an attitude that you do control.
Having a positive attitude is definitely not going to fix this economic crisis. But without a positive attitude, it is almost impossible to address any problem, especially a crisis of this magnitude.
More than ever your dealership needs your positive leadership. Employees need your assurance that you will lead them through this crisis.
Dealers, who have historically relied on managers for day to day decision-making, must increase their involvement in their business to help keep management focused.
The good news is that necessity is the mother of invention, and so this crisis is forcing everyone to become better operators.
In good times, all dealers are good dealers. But in these times, it will take extraordinary leadership to overcome the obstacles.
You may not control all events, but you control your attitude. And that's important. A positive attitude is essential to winning this battle. n
Hugh Roberts, a certified financial planner, is president of H. B. Roberts Co. He can be reached at 818-610-3480 or at [email protected]