DP's Office

Save Our Summer Sale!

Labor Day is just around the corner. Are you panicking yet? Heard answers the S.O.S.S. call with five proven ways to salvage a slow summer sales season.

August 2018, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by Jason Heard

Photo ©GettyImages.com/Barcin
Photo ©GettyImages.com/Barcin

It’s the hot time of year, both for sales and the weather! Mother Nature is bearing down on most of us like a playground monitor with a new whistle. So how are your numbers? If your summer isn’t going the way you hoped, some of these tips may help:

1. Recommit to Save-a-Deal Meetings.

Get everyone together every morning to talk about contracts in transit, review the “heat sheet,” and find missing docs for funding and trades. Look at which appointments didn’t show up yesterday and which ones made it in. Discuss the pace in both volume and gross. Put a missed deal together with a phone call or a few dollars. It works.

2. Reduce Those CITs.

Contracts in transit are a persistent threat. Run through them in your save-a-deal meeting and follow up throughout the day. Your floorplan expense is not going to diminish anytime soon. Money is expensive, and you need to put it to work.

Demand econtracting for quick payments. If you have to sign a piece of paper and send it, make sure the office is sending them same day if they’re in on time and the next day otherwise. We can ill afford to have money sitting in limbo.

3. Get Referrals.

Make this a full-court press. Get your folks back on the phones and computers asking for referrals. Make sure you are rewarding customers for referring deals to you. Offer a service credit, dinner out, or cold, hard cash. Let loyal customers know you want their friends and family to enjoy the same great service they receive. Tell us who they are so we can reach out. Everyone benefits. Win-win-win!

4. Face the Facts.

Not every baby is a beautiful baby. Sometimes you need a reality check. It may be a tenured employee who is poisoning others, a broken process that is “what we’ve always done,” failure to quickly stock pre-owned cars, or a longtime vendor that is overcharging.

Whatever the cause, you will never find it by always looking at your business through the same lens. Use creative thinking to solve your problems. Be honest with yourself and demand honesty from your managers — and don’t penalize them for it. Listen, ask questions, ponder the situation, and resolve it in a later discussion.

5. Go Big on Labor Day.

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer. What do you have planned? Perhaps a cookout, a fundraiser, live music, spiffs for your salespeople, a petting zoo — whatever it is, get it planned and ready and then talk about it. If you are cooking out, invite your employees’ families up. Make it a charity fundraiser and invite representatives of the beneficiaries. Have a plan. Don’t leave it to chance. This is your last big summer weekend. Blow it up!

If you are having a killer summer, congratulations. Hopefully you can make it even better. If you are struggling, it’s not too late — unless you sit idle. Get focused, communicate honestly with yourself and your staff, and finish strong.

Jason Heard is the general manager of Lee’s Summit (Mo.) Honda. He is a 25-year industry veteran with extensive sales and sales management experience. Contact him at jason.heard@bobit.com.

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