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Tom Hopkins

The Greatest Destroyer of Business: Fear

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Fear is the greatest enemy you’ll ever encounter as an automotive professional. Fears appear on both sides of most sales situations so you really need to understand them and master how to overcome them.

Hopefully, you’ll learn to recognize and conquer your own inner fears. Those common fears most salespeople have of not getting enough business, making mistakes, or losing face will be conquered with knowledge and experience. Being educated and well-prepared to perform in this industry brings about self-confidence.

Fear is also what builds that wall of resistance you so often run into. The toughest job you’ll encounter in sales is when you have to help others admit to and overcome their fears so you can earn the right to serve their needs.

There are skills you must master in order to climb over or break through that wall. But, first, you must understand what the fears are.

What are the most common fears you’ll have to overcome with buyers?

Your prospective client is initially afraid of you. You are a salesperson. I think you’ll agree with me that salespeople are not generally accepted with open arms—even by other salespeople. Even if you are going to help someone you already know — a friend or acquaintance or even a relative — when you enter their lives in the role of a sales person, certain fears will arise. It’s bound to happen in 99 percent of your presentations. (I’ll give you a one percent non-fear situation with your parents or grandparents, simply because in most cases they’ll believe in you and trust you no matter what role you play with them.)

What you need to do to conquer the “salesperson fear” is to master the skill of putting people at ease. Learn to use a relaxed manner and tone of voice. Use rapport-setting comments and questions that show them you are interested in them, not just in the transaction. You need to come across as warm, friendly, and inviting. If you truly believe in your products and the quality of service you and your dealership can deliver, it should show.

Smile. Give the client a sincere compliment. Thank them for the opportunity to serve their needs. In other words, treat them as you would a guest you are honored to have in your home.

The next fear you’ll encounter is their fear of making a mistake. Hey, we all have that one, don’t we? We’ve all made decisions we’ve later regretted. Since you’re working with one of the larger investments average people ever make, you must take the time to talk them through every aspect of the transaction very carefully.

You are the expert. You know this business. You may have knowledge about aspects of it that they hadn’t thought of, and if they had, their decision may have been different.

You must go into every demonstration with a very curious interest in the who, what, when, where, and why of the transaction. When you’ve satisfied yourself that it is in their best interest to proceed, then it’s your obligation as an expert to convince them that this decision is truly good for them.

The next fear is a fear of owing money. People may make irrational statements or ask questions that seem out of place. They may even mistrust what you have to say. They may want to negotiate.

Please realize that it’s simply a symptom of the fear they are feeling about the transaction. When you notice something along these lines, pause in your presentation. You might want to do a brief summary of what’s been discussed thus far to be certain they understand everything you’ve covered.

This challenge may appear in many variations, depending upon the negotiating skills of your clients.

They may stall making any decision to go ahead and you’ll have to draw them out.

They may be point blank about it and you’ll have to sell them on the value of the vehicle and the service your dealership provides.

A good way to handle most fears is to confront them head on, but gently. You might simply say, “John and Mary, I feel you have some hesitation about going ahead with this purchase. Would you mind sharing with me what it is?” Then, be quiet and wait for their reply. It could be that they’ve had a bad past experience and are sitting there fearful of having another. They’re waiting and watching you for signs that you’re not like that other salesperson.

Get them talking about their fears so you can determine something concrete to work with. Help them to see how different you and your dealership are. People won’t do business with you if they don’t like you, trust you and want to listen to you. Learn how to get fear out of the way.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/the-greatest-destroyer-of-business-fear/

Robin Cunningham

How Profitable is Incremental Growth?

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I think it is safe to say that every business operator is planning, forecasting, or at least hoping to increase their sales and profits in whatever business he or she is involved in.

In the retail automobile business, that growth can come in many forms, such as:

  • Selling more new or used vehicles
  • Increasing the gross profits of the vehicles you already sell
  • Increasing finance & insurance income per vehicle retail
  • Reducing the aging of your used vehicle inventory
  • Reducing your reconditioning cycle time in order to get the vehicle front-line ready sooner
  • Increasing the repair order count in the service department
  • Increasing the gross profit margin in the service department
  • Increasing the number of parts on the shelf that the service department needs each day

There are many more forms growth can take, of course, but these are pretty representative of the opportunities available to most dealerships we work with.

The reason I say that incremental growth, resulting from actions like those mentioned above are far more profitable than one might think, is because, for the most part, the personnel, semi-fixed, and fixed expenses are going to be nearly the same in our operating departments, whether or not we drive increased sales and gross.

If we can keep the selling expenses in the range of 30-35% of total all-in gross, when we incrementally add more gross, we can retain 65-70% of that increased income as net profit on the bottom line. If a dealership is doing really well, its total expenses will typically run 70% of gross profit, leaving a net profit metric of 30% net-to-gross. So growing our business, while being able to maintain our expenses at best practice levels, can drive more than double the incremental net-to-gross metric than would typically be the case.

There are several places we see this demonstrated during our NCM Institute classes. Our students are encouraged to develop and document at least two Guarantee of Action Plans (GOAs) each evening after class and then present them to the class the following morning. These GOAs describe and quantify their ideas. The GOA could be something like selling 10 more used vehicles per month by pricing them more competitively to the market. The quantification might look like this: 10 incremental used vehicles at $2,976 all-in gross, which would be $29,760 additional gross per month, or $357,120 annually.

The primary selling expenses (commissions to salespeople, F&I producers, and sales managers, advertising, floor plan interest, policy and delivery expense) will be maintained at no more than 35%, and assuming that no additional incremental expense is required, the department would retain 65% of the $357,120 or $232,128 in additional net profit. The equation I used looks like this: (10 x $2,976 x 12 x 65%)  If these 10 extra vehicles were not sold, the same 65% in expenses would still be incurred; but not any extra gross profit nor subsequent net profit.

When working with variable department managers, another action we suggest our students begin focusing on every day is to reduce the price-to-sale gap. That is the difference between the advertised Internet price of a specific vehicle and the actual retail transaction price at the time of sale. In the beginning, this can be a huge number, so we suggest starting at a target reduction of $200 per car.  As an example, for a dealership retailing 80 used cars per month, reducing its average price-to-sale gap by $200 per vehicle, and keeping its variable selling expenses at no more than 35%, would increase its net profit by $124,800. The equation I used looks like this:  (80 x $200 x 12 x 65%).

By the way, we work with a lot of variable managers, and, before we begin teaching them this best practice, they tell us that they believe their true average price-sale-gap is currently at least $700 per vehicle retailed… off Internet pricing! (Don’t get me started!) So the $200 per vehicle target reduction that we’re suggesting is extremely conservative.

As I said at the beginning, there are numerous opportunities for increasing sales, gross and reducing expenses in our dealerships these days. I hope my brief message validates for you the powerful effect that incremental growth, combined with a controlled expense structure, will have on your bottom line!

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/how-profitable-is-incremental-growth/

Dennis Kane

Are You Covered for Pollution?

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Your service manager calls you and explains there has been a pollution incident with your waste oil. Do you have insurance coverage?

If you live in the United States, be afraid, because anyone with your EPA generator number who has picked up pollutants from your dealership has created a liability for you. Some greedy attorney will sue you for every dime you have earned. Our government will fine you, plus interest. The courts will imprison you, pending judgment, and your spouse will leave you for a rich plastic surgeon. I’m told fear and sex are the two best ways to get a dealer’s attention – the rest of this article has neither. But if I still have your attention, the following is worth reading!

Every dealership has pollution liability exposures, but many dealers don’t have insurance coverage for these complex and constantly emerging hazards. Many companies that have significant pollution exposures are required to buy pollution coverage (ie: those with underground tanks); however, for most dealerships, the decision to purchase insurance is voluntary.

This coverage is often overlooked by insurance agents because they don’t understand dealership pollution exposures or they don’t have access to markets that can provide cost effective coverage. Most garage liability carriers have standard pollution exclusions, so a separate policy is almost always required. There are many different types of coverages and policies depending on the complexity of your pollution exposures and hazards.

Every dealership has pollution exposures.

For example: solvents, caustics, cleaning agents, collision repair and painting operation, and petroleum products all can create pollution exposures. Results of pollution incidents include:

  • Damage to third party
  • Clean up costs of contaminated property
  • Off-site waste disposal clean up expense
  • Fines and penalties for violation and adverse public reactions

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act provides “cradle to grave” regulation of hazardous waste. It imposes strict waste management requirements upon generators and transporters of hazardous waste, and upon waste treatment storage and disposal facilities. This basically means that you own the liability for the lifetime of the pollutant. There is also strict joint and several liability with pollution incidents which means, regardless of who was negligent, you can be brought into the suit to defend and remediate the pollution incident.

At a minimum, every dealership needs three basic coverages.

First, your dealership property and damage to third party that originates at your property for bodily injury, property damage and clean-up costs. Second is transportation coverage from non-owned autos that pick up your pollutants and transport them to non-owned disposal sites for bodily injury, property damage and clean up cost. Third is non-owned disposal sites which offers coverage for properly permitted sites for bodily injury, property-damage and clean up resulting from pollution event on, under or migrating beyond the boundaries of disposal sites. In some instances, if you have underground tanks, you need specialized coverage.

Take the time at your next renewal to ask your agent to review the pollution coverages to make sure your exposures are covered and there are no surprises. Depending on the size of your dealership, pollution policy premiums start around two thousand dollars for one million dollars of coverage.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/are-you-covered-for-pollution/

Jeff Cowan

How Service Appointments and Reservations Destroy Customer Retention, Survey Scores and Upsells

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In my workshops I always like to have plenty of Q & A time so that I can address the real concerns that Service Advisors believe keep them performing at their highest level. One concern that never fails to be mentioned revolves around the issue of service appointments and reservations.

Typically, when your Business Development Center (BDC) or your Service Advisor sets your customer up with an appointment or reservation, the customer assumes it means the same thing as it does at a restaurant: when they arrive at the given time, their seat will be ready with no waiting. And just as when they make airline reservations, they expect to be on the plane backing up from the gate at that reserved or appointed time. When you set up a reservation or an appointment for your customer, they have been trained by business in general to believe that the work will begin at the appointment time. No matter how many times or how well you try to explain to your customers what is really going to happen upon arrival, the mere usage of the words “reservation” or “appointment” reinforce their belief that the work will begin at the exact time of the reservation.

This is a serious problem.

According to what I hear from your Service Advisors, and based on what we witness when providing our training on your service drive, three fourths of the customers your service staff work with everyday have this misunderstanding at the initial write up. As your Service Advisors try to explain that the time set for the appointment was for the purpose of gathering information, the exchange with the customer quickly turns into an argument. Therefore the write up and the relationship began with an argument. An argument that your staff can’t win; an argument that takes about six minutes to resolve; an argument that only gets the customer thinking that what they were told was just a ploy to get them in; and an argument that sets the mindset that you don’t do what you promise. Anytime you start out a relationship like this, you put yourself at a big disadvantage toward accomplishing the goals of customer retention, high survey scores and the chance to acquire any necessary up sells.

The simple and easy solution to stopping this and turning it around is as simple as implementing the following two steps.

Step 1: In service, never use the words “appointment” or “reservation” again. Not verbally. Not on signs. Not in print. Not online. Not anywhere. Appointment and reservation times imply an exact time that an event is going to begin. Check-in time implies that waiting will be involved. For instance, when you go to the airport you are encouraged to arrive two hours prior to check-in. Once you check-in, the next step is to wait for the reservation time when you will board the plane and take off.

From now on, you are going to start scheduling “check-in” times for your service customers so that after they check-in, they will wait for the appointed time set by the Service Advisor after they have had a chance to talk with the customer in person about their needs. In the customer’s mind, appointment and reservation times indicate that the event will commence at that specific time. Check-in time however, precedes an appointment time. In the customers mind, check-in time refers to a preliminary period designated for the collection of information. After the information is given, an exact time for work to begin can be determined. Check in time and its implications are familiar to customers.

Step 2: Now that we have replaced the words “appointment” and “reservation” with “check-in” time, the following word tracks are how you are going to explain check-in times and stop the arguments forever.

Word track one is to be said by your BDC or by the person scheduling the check-in time:

“Now that we have established your check-in time for 9:00am tomorrow, allow me to take a minute to explain to you what that means and what will happen once you arrive. First, you will want to arrive as close to your check-in time as possible. Getting here early means you will have to wait and getting here late could result in you losing your place in line. Once you do arrive, your Factory-Trained Service Advisor will be ready with all of the information you just gave me.

During the first part of the check-in process they will go over all of this information to ensure that I wrote everything down correctly, to make sure they understand what your concerns are and to see if anything needs to be added to your list.

The second step in the check-in process is when you and your Factory-Trained Service Advisor will walk around your vehicle to collect numbers off your vehicle and do a quick visual inspection.

The third part of the check-in process is when it will be determined which department and which Factory-Trained Technician will be the one best suited to diagnose and repair your vehicle. That decision will be based on what you and your Factory-Trained Service Advisor discussed and saw during the earlier part of the check-in process.

Once that is determined we will then look at the schedule for that department and Factory-Trained Technician and that will determine approximately when your vehicle will enter our state of the art shop.”

By using this one minute long word track, I have fully explained to the customer exactly what to expect when they arrive, exactly what happens if they are early or late, and exactly what will happen and why. I have explained that the check-in time does not mean reservation or appointment. I have explained and prepared them to wait. Once they arrive prepared, the Service Advisor has two word tracks to deliver:

“Thank you for arriving on time to get your vehicle checked- in. Now that you are here let me explain to you what we will be doing to get your vehicle checked-in. First, I will be going over all of the information you gave us on the telephone to ensure that it was written down correctly, to ensure that I understand your concerns, and to add anything that needs to be added.

Once that is done, we will both walk around your vehicle to collect some numbers off of it and to do a quick visual inspection. Based on what we discuss and what we see during the visual inspection, we will select the department and or Factory-Trained Technician that will be best suited to address your concerns today. Once that is determined, we will take a look at their schedule which will dictate approximately when your vehicle will enter our state-of-the-art Service Department.”

After the Service Advisor completes everything as they said they would, they follow with this final check-in time word track:

“Now that we have reviewed all of your original concerns and have completed our visual inspection, I believe the department/ Factory-Trained Technician that would be best to diagnose and repair your vehicle would be ____. Right now they are working on another customer’s vehicle, so it is likely your vehicle will be entering our state of the art facility at approximately _____. Let’s give them about one hour to an hour and a half to complete your diagnosis, meaning you can expect a telephone call from me between ____ and ____ with an update on the status and findings regarding your vehicle. Fair enough?”

By using these two word tracks, which combined take one minute to deliver, you have done the following:

  1. You have started the relationship on an up note and not with an argument.
  2. You have done everything to the letter that your BDC told them you were going to do.
  3. You have established the reality that when you say something is going to happen, it is going to happen. They can count on you.
  4. You have saved about four minutes at the write-up by being in control of your customer and the write-up itself.
  5. You have slowed the customer down giving yourself more time to build rapport and inspect their vehicle which will substantially impact customer retention, survey scores and your ability to get necessary upsells.
  6. The customer has been educated that speed is not the most important thing in getting their vehicle repaired.

It’s really that easy.

By changing your verbiage from appointment or reservation to check-in time and by delivering these three, simple word tracks, you will experience immediate impact and the arguing will end forever. I have always felt the best way to win an argument is to eliminate all possibility of an argument arising. You can always tell a great Service Advisor by the number of scars they have on their tongues from years of biting back argumentative words. The solution I have presented here will do two things; stop the arguments before they start and save your Service Advisors from acquiring unnecessary scars.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/how-service-appointments-and-reservations-destroy-customer-retention-survey-scores-and-upsells/

Garry House

The Changing Role of Used Vehicle Management

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Over the last ten years, anyone who has not witnessed dramatic changes in the used vehicle arena must have his/her head in the sand. Why is it then that so many franchised new vehicle dealers have thus far failed to effectively adjust to these changes? So that you understand what I’m talking about, I’ll just mention two of these impactful changes:

1. The Growth of the Internet as a Marketing Source

2. The Advantages Available through Inventory Optimization Technology

Even the language is changing! The used vehicle manager who was successful ten years ago wouldn’t even be able to communicate today. What did he need to know about inventory turns, price-to-sale gap, SRPs and DVPs, etc.?

Most importantly, the scope of used vehicle management responsibilities has massively expanded. At the used vehicle management classes offered by the NCM Institute, we now define and discuss the 30 Regular Responsibilities that must be performed in a well-run pre-owned vehicle department.

NCM Institute divides these responsibilities into three major categories: Inventory Management, Marketing, and Sales Production. It quickly becomes apparent to our students that even Superman, working 80 hours per week, cannot effectively perform these responsibilities individually.

Many of these numerous tasks must be assumed by, or delegated to, other members of the dealership sales team. In some dealerships, the used vehicle department manager position has been totally eliminated from the organization chart. Instead, the position has been replaced by one or more of the following:

  • Group Used Vehicle Systems Coordinator
  • Used Vehicle Digital Marketing Director
  • Used Vehicle Sales Production Manager
  • Used Vehicle Inventory Manager
  • Used Vehicle Acquisition Specialist
  • Used Vehicle Pricing Administrator

Without a used vehicle department manager, either the GM (or GSM, if applicable) must “own” the aforementioned 30 Regular Responsibilities, and he/she must ensure that each of the responsibilities is effectively delegated and executed. Future articles of Up To Speed will present and discuss in detail many of these individual responsibilities.

Need help structuring your dealership to capitalize on used vehicle department opportunities?  Reach out to your NCM 20 Group moderator or Retail Operations Consulting coach, or sign up for the NCM Institute’s courses in Used Vehicle Management.  Call us at 866.756.2620; we’ll listen and recommend a solution that’s right for you.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/the-changing-role-of-used-vehicle-management/

Paul Stowe

Check Your Used Vehicle Manager’s Thinking… Then Have a Conversation

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Mr./Ms. Dealer:

There continues to be a great deal of misconception in sales managers’ thinking about why they’re not able to increase used vehicle volume. Industry metrics confirm that those dealers not performing at a minimum 1-to-1 New-to-Used retail sales ratio are just not participating in the opportunities of the current market.

So why do our managers continue to have these misconceptions? What follows are some common reasons we hear during our dealership consulting engagements. My responses should help you combat these misunderstandings that are prevalent in our industry today, and they’ll also help you have the conversation that will turn this thinking around.

“I need more inventory to sell more cars.”

You might, but first, do you understand and practice an aggressive “turn” mentality? If not, you are five years behind in your skill set. If you have an aging issue right now – why? Should your dealer give you more dollars to invest unwisely? Just a hint… great operators do believe a 30-day (or faster) turn is attainable. Our Benchmark metrics validate that a 45-day turn is very common, regardless of franchise. Do you understand that if you turn your inventory more efficiently, your volume will increase?

“I cannot find the ‘right cars’ and when I do, they are too expensive.”

Come on! The vehicles are out there! You might have to work every day to source them. What makes you think you are smarter than the market which dictates the cost and sales price of inventory? What is your acquisition plan? What do you buy each week to inventory?

“If I price to market, my grosses are too low.”

This is so common. Question: Have you ever put more money into a trade to make a new car deal? If so, of course you reduced the new car gross – right? If not, what have you just done to the integrity of your pricing model and your used unit gross potential? (Most OEM incentive money is being paid on new car sales. Why in the world would you destroy your acquisition disciplines, bumping used trade-in inventory values and not reduce new car gross to its true transaction value?)

A new car deal is a new car deal, albeit an OEM incentivized transaction. A used vehicle trade acquisition is an investment decision. Buy it right or understand the impact on potential grosses, salability, and aging of your used vehicle dollar investment; in other words, your true return on investment of your dollars, Mr./Ms. Dealer.

Have the conversation.

Understand and clear the air on these misconceptions, if they apply. Ask your manager to give you a plan to increase used unit volume profitably beginning right now. Get it in writing. There is too much missed profit opportunity, let alone the impact of adding new customers to your owner base.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/check-your-used-vehicle-managers-thinking-then-have-a-conversation/

Fred O'Dwyer

Is Everything Clear?

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Not too long ago as I was listening to someone talk about how fundamental clarity is in fueling growth in a company. A bell went off somewhere inside me, for I knew I had heard something similar about the virtue of clarity inside growing businesses, even though it was a long time ago.

And then I remembered: Over 25 years ago I was taking a graduate level program at a local university on weekends, here in Kansas City, and was placed on a team with four other working professionals. Two of whom were senior executives at Marion Labs, founded by Kansas City’s most famous entrepreneur, Ewing Marion Kauffman. Kauffman, like many wildly successful American tycoons, began operations from scratch in his home. There, he started a pharmaceutical company and called it Marion Labs. It was 1950 and he began with all he could lay hands on, $5,000. About 40 years later, the company’s annual revenue was closing in on the $1 billion threshold, and was valued at $6.5 billion when it merged with Merrell-Dow. The employee count exceeded three thousand.

How did Marion Labs manage to sustain such a furious growth rate and still maintain almost unparalleled success along the way? I know the two execs with whom I shared several courses could tell you exactly why. They would attribute Marion’s success to the vision, principles, drive and energy of their founder, “Mr. K,” as they called him. Not only did my classmates feel a personal allegiance to Mr. K, they also felt they could follow Mr. K’s direction even when he wasn’t close to their divisions. And that’s because they could quote verbatim (and did so numerous times) their founder’s three core values and three clarities. Six simple principles that Mr. K developed for himself and for his business, and managed to instill in the Marion Labs associates to a remarkable degree. Not only could my buddies quote them, I knew they were part of their own core principles as well. I was able to find these six practices that guided Mr. K’s approach to business; practices that were in no small part responsible for the company’s huge success:

The Three Core Values

  1. Treat others as you want to be treated.
  2. Those that produce should share the rewards.
  3. Give back to the community.

The Three Core Clarities

  1. Clarity of Direction
  2. Clarity of Organization
  3. Clarity of Measurement.

Let’s take a look at how these six items might work for an auto dealership today.

The Three Core Values

The three core values are simple, right? Can you check them off this list with the thought that “Yep, we already do that.” Truth be told, for a long time now, growth-minded auto dealers and dealer groups have indeed adopted the same core values Mr. K. fashioned for his business a long time ago. Look at your ongoing efforts and programs to improve CSI and customer retention, as well as to offer more convenience and value when selling and delivering your products and services. These efforts easily fit into the first core value, which customers are quick to recognize and reward with continued business. Likewise, many of you have crafted excellent pay plans that handsomely reward those that produce, and in turn are rewarded with their loyalty to you. And auto dealers in general take a back seat to no one when it comes to developing ingenious programs to give back to the community in ways that not only help the community but energize a dealership’s customer base as well. If you have been focusing on instilling these values into your operations, you know that what goes around truly comes around. Mr. K. would be proud of you.

The Three Core Clarities

Can we also so easily put these on our “We already do that” list and move on? I think not, at least not in many cases. Each month I am privileged to present a few of NCM Institute’s core courses to a wide swath of dealership managers, ranging from seasoned veterans to newbie leaders and even to some soon-to-be leaders. While most of them exhibit strong leadership aptitudes and interpersonal skills, in my opinion, not all of them could recite their companies’ core clarities, like my Marion Labs friends of so long ago could so well deliver.

As a call to action for you today, consider for a while the following questions that, in my opinion, relate well to Mr. K’s Clarities of Direction, Organization and Measurement in an auto dealership today:

Is my management team, let alone my entire team of associates, absolutely clear about the direction in which we want to lead the company this year? The next five years?

Do we hold regular meetings with managers – and other meetings with the entire staff — to update them on progress toward our goals? Can my leadership team credibly and enthusiastically present company goals to those who report to them? Do they?

Does our company celebrate victories and work together as a team to overcome difficulties?

Do I assume that because I know who reports to whom inside the company, that everyone else must know this as well? Do I have and use organizational charts that clarify the company’s structure to all associates?

Do I have written job objectives that clearly outline each associate’s responsibilities and performance expectations?

Does each employee receive an individual consultation with his or her manager (at least monthly) so the manager can clarify how the employee’s efforts contributed to the company’s success – and to receive feedback from the employee as well?

Do my managers clearly understand the portion of the financial statement for which they are responsible? Do they realize what affects the financial data and how to improve results?

And do my managers daily measure the core activities in their departments that will clarify the financial results at month end?

There are without doubt several more clarity questions to ask ourselves here. Mr. K’s Clarities, in my opinion, are harder to instill into an organization than his Values. Perhaps it’s because Clarities are more like blocking and tackling, and not as flashy as running and passing. And that’s why otherwise good companies sometimes don’t work on them, or let them slip. Should they be surprised then when expected growth slows way below expectation? Could lack of these three simple clarities be the culprit? NCM Institute believes strongly enough in the principles behind these and other similar questions are presented to students in almost all our courses. In short, we wholeheartedly agree with Mr. K’s Three Clarities.

I do believe Mr. K. knew what he was doing when he developed these six basic principles for his business so long ago. If you want some more information about them, click here to learn more about Mr. K’s Formula for Success.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/is-everything-clear/

Jonathan Dawson

Why Should You Brand Yourself?

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How memorable are you?

If you learn how to become unforgettable, there is no limit to your success as a salesperson. Branding is one way to make yourself unforgettable. When I bring up the topic of branding, some people ask, “Why do I have to brand myself? I’m not a business.”

Well, my friend, I have news for you that’s good and bad. YOU ARE A BUSINESS! The good news is that the sooner you embrace this, the more successful you’ll become. The bad news is that if you’re not branding yourself, you’re helping your competitors who are.

Have you had any of the following happen to you?

  • A customer came back to the store but didn’t remember your name and bought from another salesperson
  • You call to follow-up with a customer regarding a vehicle they looked at yesterday only to learn they bought from another store
  • You’ve sold about the same number of cars for months, even years

If any of these happened to you, you have a branding problem. Not a traffic problem, a management problem, a weather problem, or a location problem. YOU have a branding problem. Salespeople who have a personal brand do not worry about lot traffic, bad weather, or what the competition is doing.

Personal branding is not a complicated concept. For a salesperson, branding simply means you’re doing things to differentiate yourself from all the other sales people in your field and even at your store. You’re actively doing things to become unforgettable. You’re actively creating a unique experience for the customer.

To put it another way, branding is about getting the customer to remember who you are, what you do, and how you made them feel.

A personal brand will do many things for you:

  1.  Consistency – A good brand will deliver your message consistently. Sales people who don’t deliver a consistent message in their marketplace don’t have a solid brand.
  2.  Uniqueness – A good brand will also confirm your uniqueness in the marketplace. If your brand doesn’t make you stand out, it’s not a very good brand.
  3. Connection – A good brand will help you connect with your target prospects personally. You want to build a brand that is attractive to some people and not particularly attractive to others. You want your brand to be something that people either really like or don’t like. Your brand will attract a certain group or demographic of people and convert them to fans.
  4.  Motivation – Another thing a good brand will achieve is it will motivate lookers and shoppers to consider you seriously. The stronger your brand is, the more it will separate you from all the other sales people a looker may have talked to in a day and will motivate them to do business with you.
  5. Loyalty – A strong brand will also foster loyalty. People like to go for something they’re familiar with, so the stronger your brand is within your customer base and within your community, the more loyal people will become to you.
  6. Better choice – Finally, a strong brand will separate you as the better choice. The stronger your brand is, the more distinct and memorable you will be compared to all the other sales people offering similar products.

Did you know that most businesses fail within the first five years of opening up? Most businesses also do not invest in developing a brand. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. As a salesperson, you ARE a business. If you want to stay in business tomorrow, you must develop a brand TODAY.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/why-should-you-brand-yourself/

Garry House

Combat is a Leadership Laboratory

US Flag

Combat is a leadership laboratory. That laboratory is a proving ground for veterans like Leif Babin, who shared his insights on leadership and teamwork at last Fall’s Driving Sales Executive Summit. A former Navy SEAL and co-founder of management consulting firm, Echelon Front, LLC, Babin gave an inspiring keynote address where he translated his experiences as a SEAL and SEAL Officer into leadership development tips.

This Independence Day, as we consider the significance of our Founding Fathers’ leadership, courage and dedication to freedom that so many have fought for over the decades, I thought it timely to revisit some of Babin’s insights, beginning with his fundamentals of leadership and teamwork:

  • Cover & Move – Teams must work together
  • Simple - Use clear, concise communication so everyone understands the specific mission
  • Prioritize & Execute – Get the team moving toward the highest priority target
  • Decentralized Command – Everyone knows what to do and why

Babin stressed that the key to effective leadership is for those in leadership positions to embrace three essential concepts:

Extreme Ownership

Leaders own the solution. Take responsibility when things go wrong and develop solutions to overcome problems.

Continuous, Realistic Self-Assessment

Humility and constant training and preparation are required if you want to improve. Set standards for your team: it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate. Remember, there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.

Hard Training

Training must be continual, realistic and practical, stretching you beyond your comfort zone. Babin also stressed that the fundamentals don’t change, and that “advanced tactics” are the basics done really well. Finally, repetition is critical. In his words, “Train, train, then train some more.”

In my humble opinion, the U.S. Armed Forces are collectively the best, most respected military force in the world, and the SEAL program illustrates the discipline, training and leadership that make it so. I’m happy to take a lesson in leadership from them!

This July 4th, let’s celebrate the freedoms derived from those earliest declarations of independence and thank all the wise leaders and brave heroes who have sacrificed so much to maintain our liberty over the years. Happy Independence Day, America!

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/combat-is-a-leadership-laboratory/

Dave Anderson

Building a High Performance Culture (Part Eight)

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This article is part of a multi-part series titled “Building a High Performance Culture” by Up To Speed Guest Expert, Dave Anderson, of LearnToLead®.

Words that Hurt: Entitle

In this eighth post on building a high performance culture, I want to discuss a word that hurts: entitle. A sense of entitlement creates mindsets and attitudes that drain cultures of morale, momentum, resources and inhibits peak performance.

For a quick review of this series, peruse the following words that work in a culture, and words that hurt a culture, from the past seven blog posts. This will help you grasp the concepts, values and mindsets necessary for great performance; and help you identify and weed out those that are harmful.

Words that work:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Words that hurt:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

To use in a sentence: It’s not my fault I had a bad month. In other words, I’m a victim.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle is defined as “a claim to something you feel you are owed”. The problem arises when people aren’t owed what they feel they have coming; they have neither earned nor deserve it. Examples of entitlement are as follows:

  • People expect an end-of-the-year raise because it’s the end of the year; not because they earn or deserve it.
  • People expect a promotion because they’ve been there the longest; not because they’re the best person for a job.
  • You provide lunches for your team on a busy Saturday, and soon they begin to complain about the choices.
  • A poor performer feels entitled to extra help, perks or attention because he’s struggling; not because he’s performed in a manner worthy of additional company resources being invested in him.
  • People expect their tenure, experience or credentials to substitute for results; they believe the past entitles them to a permission slip to slack in the present.

With a rise of entitlement in society, you can expect to see more entitlement in business, and in households (with entitled kids), since trends in these arenas tend to follow trends in society in general. You can also rest assured that nothing welcomes entitlement into your culture faster than a lack of accountability. Frankly, it’s tougher for people to become entitled when they’re held accountable for results.

A common question is, “Aren’t we entitled to something in the workplace?” The answer is absolutely: all you’ve earned and deserve; what you’ve acquired through merit; what you’re worthy of, what you’ve qualified for. All perks over and above that are gifts. People should be grateful for them, but should understand they don’t have them coming.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/building-a-high-performance-culture-part-eight/

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