Sunday, March 01, 2009

What Can You Do to Improve Business?


Looking across the business landscape right now may look a bit bleak. I view this as a time of decision(s). Either you can do nothing, close shop, and go fishing, or you can make a stand for your business. Either way, you make a decision.

Activities

How many times have we heard, “Activity begets activity?” When you are busy, your brain and body are engaged in moving the business forward - even if it is cleaning the office, going through old files, clearing out the outdated, and making room for new activity. So, if you haven’t cleaned out the offices and drawers in awhile, start with that task.

Walk the lot, pick up trash, look at the inventory, ask yourself if the units are clean and inviting, and how you can improve the display. If you were a customer what would make you stop, look and listen? This drill will give you some low- or no-cost ideas to make the most out of every opportunity.

Skill Up

Use this slow time to role-play with your sales team. It is critical to sharpen their skills. Use audio recording and videotaping and play it back for the presenters. Ask them, “Would you purchase an RV listening to these words?” Improve their word tracks and have them practice prior to seeing real customers. When times are slow, the worst thing anyone can do is practice on a customer.

Have everyone do a demonstration on a different unit. You will find that each sales consultant has his or her favorite manufacturer or model. The others can learn valuable product knowledge from this exercise.

Have a potluck working lunch. Everyone can bring a dish and an idea to share about how to improve business. I think you will agree that many hands make light work.

Check Your Attitude

Be positive! Put on your game face for employees and customers. Yes, we all have concerns about making payroll and all of our various obligations. However, when you are in sales, 98 percent of what you do is attitude and faith. As you think, so shall you be.

Walt Disney said, “We have tears so that we can appreciate the smiles.” He also declared bankruptcy seven times before he drew Mickey Mouse. Disney had faith and when the traditional lenders would not lend him the construction loan to build Disneyland, he took his storyboards and entered the world of non-traditional financing. He thought outside the box and took action. After making numerous presentations, 33 companies agreed to join him in building his dreams, the result is Disneyland.

If your budget will not support attending a show, create your own at the dealership. If you cannot afford print advertising, use the Internet to contact potential customers. If customers are not coming to you, then go where they are.

Network

Times such as these require every person on your team to be involved in a different community activity. Life is a full-contact sport and participation yields recognition. You want to position your business to be first in the customer’s mind when it comes to recreation vehicles.

Every community has Rotary, Lions, Elks, Moose, Wine and Food societies, Community Performing Arts, Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), college alumni groups, tailgating parties, rodeos, youth sports, Toastmasters … you get the idea. Join a group and network with its members. Have a blood drive for the Red Cross. Radio stations should give you free advertising for the drive. Host a charity event at the dealership for a local children’s center. The event could be a Harley poker run with a motorcycle and toy hauler show at the end at the dealership.

Lenders

Go prospecting for non-traditional lenders. Create a working relationship with local credit unions and local thrift and loan companies. Get to know local managers and build strong working relationships. In the past you might have driven right past the small lenders, but times have changed and now these folks can be your best allies. The relationship begins with an introduction. Do not wait, stop by their office, investigate and introduce yourself. Find out if they are looking to build their loan portfolio and inquire about how to begin a working relationship.

Magic Bullet to Get Deals Approved

Simple - cash down and no over advances. The old days of financing from retail plus is over. We are now in the times when the funding will be from low invoice. The customer will need to be in an equity position at the beginning of the loan. Remember the old phrase, “The cash down payment equals the gross profit in the deal.”

Be Proactive

Do not wait until the lender requests verification, get it in advance. We might as well get use to verifying employment, income and the physical damage insurance at the beginning of the loan as well. Gathering information at the beginning saves time and shortens the funding delay.

RV Executive Today, March 2009, P. 16 & 18.