Things have not been easy over the past several months. Daily unknowns of, "What will happen next?" and, "What can be done?" still echo with little response.

Numbers like $500, $700 and $800 billion for bailouts – numbers larger than most companies will see in revenue over their lifespan – have been tossed around and are almost too big to grasp. So, what do we do?

Now is a time to focus small. It's a time to not only look at the big picture, which is, frankly, a bit overwhelming and even a little scary, but to focus on the smaller, more immediate picture. Take this opportunity to reinvent, reorganize, and re-engineer your strategies, procedures and resources.

It’s imperative that everyone think of new ways to sell and market while finding new ways to extend our product offering into the buying community with the least risk and cost. We have to be creative and break the mold of what we "should do" because we've never been here before. There is no precedent for what we should do. We have to think of what we "could do.”

The term "should do" usually implies the easiest and most obvious answer: "We should just turn around and go back before we get lost." The phrase "could do" usually represents an alternative, not-so-obvious, maybe even wacky idea. "Could do" opens the door for all kinds of creative and interesting choices: "Or maybe we could keep going and see what's at the end of this rainbow."

OK, so let's apply this to our industry.

"We should close two hours early to save on expenses."

"What we could do is cut utilities by half during the day, stay open twice as long and run three shifts of salespeople and have evening sales."

Now, I'm not saying which idea is right; both have their pros and cons. But they are both worth looking at and maybe worth trying.

"We could have each of our salespeople go to one local company per day for a week and prospect. Take an invitation to an exclusive sales event and have them post it to their employees."

"Maybe, we could advertise an Internet-only sale in the paper and lead people to our specials page of the Web site, where we have all kinds of new and used specials."

"We could even advertise a special 'wholesale to the public' sale on our Web site, where we discount aged inventory before we take it to the auction."

"We could have a 'garage sale,' where we sell old parts inventory, wholesale cars, maybe even have the employees bring in items."

These may seem a little extreme, but it could be fun. Plus, it could drum up some business—or at least some positive publicity.

So ask not what you should do for your dealership; ask what you could do for your dealership. And ask that of every manager and every employee: "What could YOU do to help the dealership?"

Now is a time to look inward to find new ways and new ideas of how to run our businesses. While the big picture looks gray and daunting, we need to look inward at ourselves to think of anything we could do to help our businesses make it through these hard times.

When everything turns around and we're in better economic days, we will have learned so many valuable lessons. We will remember the could-do spirit and make it the standard by which we formulate ideas for the future. We will be better, smarter, stronger businesspeople at the end.

For now, we are focusing on the small picture, the immediate day-to-day operations that keep our doors open. We sharpen and master our skills and talents for the day when the big picture clears up, which – even though it may not feel like it now – will be here before we know it. Those left standing will be the ones who were creatively working within the current environment to make the best of a decidedly bad situation. Could that be you? 
 

Vol 6, Issue 2