Archive for September, 2007

Can you see the forest for the trees?

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Tax season is well behind us. Kids are back in school. The price of gas is still too high by some standards. The housing market is taking a few lumps. Some are concerned about the overall effect on the economy. These are just some of the reasons we hear as to why sales are down. To someone just getting in the business, some of these concerns can be overwhelming. But, it is times like these that really show what you are made of.

Not everyone is buying into the notion this is a downtime. Some of us actually have been able to maintain or even improve our bottom line by adapting to the times instead of succumbing to them. Our Internet service typically has me talking about old school versus new school. Some think we are geared towards the younger client and the younger dealer. However, it is times like these I look to see what those old schoolers are doing. I know if you talk to one of them you eventually start getting all the stories about “The Good Old Days”, but if you pry a little bit, you will find things were not always so rosey. Ask Dick Keller, of DickKellerAutomobiles.com, for instance what it was like to sell cars during the gas crunch of the 1970’s. Ask Ted Bowman of SuperiorMotorsInc.com or J.B. McReynolds of CountryAutoSales.net what it was like selling cars in rural Southwest Virginia well before Walmart came to town. Bill Allen of AllensAuto.com can remember when the opinion the Carter administration had on the economy would affect what the consumers bought the next day. These and many other dealers have seen some wonderful times in the car business but can pinpoint some difficult times as well.

These dealers cannot remember all the others that went out of business along the way. The thing that destined car dealers like Dick, J.B., Ted and Bill to be a success in their industry was the ability to ride the highs and lows and react accordingly. Not one single obstacle thrown their way from the economy, the government, the weather, etc. kept them from doing what they do best, SELL CARS! Sure, each situation required them to adjust, to react, to make changes to their business in order to better adapt to current situations. They never lost site of the forest because of all the trees. They all knew one thing, people need cars! No matter the situation, people need to buy cars. They break, they get into accidents, they wear out, they get too many miles on them, the service orders begin to add up. Eventually, everyone is in the market to buy a car. Finding that person in the market to buy a car is still your job as a car dealer.

On September 11, 2001, I was still in the car business. I came into work late that day because of what was unfolding in front of me on my T.V. I finally pulled myself away and remember thinking during my drive into work how our world would never be the same. Concerns about the immediate future for the entire country crept into my mind. I was so consumed by what was going on that I knew I was not going to be selling any cars soon. However, to my surprise, when I got to the dealership I had a car buyer waiting on me! This gentleman had already made a deal with me to pick up a car that coming weekend. I obviously assumed this was a lost sale because of the current crisis. I was wrong. This client was also running late for work that day and once he realized he was not getting into Washington D.C. he took this opportunity take care of our transaction instead. I was shocked to the point that I had to ask if the current events had made him consider holding off on this purchase. He replied, “I have to get to work.” Simply put, he did not want to walk. Until they figure out a better mode of transportation we all will always have a job.

Some days our job may be harder than others. Successful dealers will take these down times as an opportunity to refine their process, improve their practices and find ways to attract those in the market to buy a car. Successful dealers look at obstacles as just that, obstacles and not excuses. It is important to identify and react to changing conditions. Today that is true more than ever before. New and old school dealers still have fresh in their minds the immediate effect on gas prices hurricane Katrina had. Some still say the effect the hurricane had on the supply of available vehicles can still be felt. It was not too long ago we were reacting to 0% financing. When you compare this list of obstacles to those in the distant past you start to see how history repeats itself. A successful car dealer is not afraid to learn from these life lessons. Some of us learn the same lessons over and over but we never stop learning.

We have clients who can say 2007 has been more than fair to them. These dealers have not been afraid to try something new. Old school and new school dealers alike have not given up on finding their next client. They may have changed their marketing practices, they may have altered their inventory or changed their financing approach, but they all have one thing in common. They all kept working towards their goal, TO SELL MORE CARS!

If you are looking for ways to get more out of the Internet, let us help. If you are a current client, review your website, look for changes that need to be made to your message, and get those changes into our office. If you are not a client, let us have the opportunity to serve you. JTZ Enterprise retains nine out of every ten clients year in and year out. We do that because of proven results. Let us do the same for you.

If you have not already done so, sign up for VIADA’s advertising package exclusive to VIADA members only. You can list all your vehicles on a website promoted by VIADA to Virginia car buyers. The unique thing about this website is we target only those car buyers in Virginia. For less than a dollar a day your listings will be shown to over ten thousand Virginia car buyers each month. This service also includes the ability to have those same listings and photos broadcast to other Internet advertisers your dealership is signed up with.

This program has three winners. The first winner is you. The dealership who is also a member of VIADA gets an affordable means of advertising online in front of a targeted audience. The second winner is the audience. When your client finds you on www.VirginiaUsedCarDealers.com they also get an education on who and what VIADA represents. That is, a group of car dealers dedicated to fair trade practices. As we gain public recognition for the association’s Symbol of Quality, today’s car buyer will have the added comfort of knowing they have chosen a reputable car dealer. The association is the third winner. First, a portion of the revenue goes directly to the association. The additional public recognition is another benefit to VIADA. This site continues to grow in traffic every month and all this traffic is filtered to any number of members’ websites only. If more and more car buyers are coming to this site each day, doesn’t it make sense to include your inventory listings?

Now, let’s get out of the forest and go sell something!