Most people in the car business cannot help but get excited in January. The previous year has just ended in a robust fashion. The Detroit Auto Show’s unveiling of future products generates a lot of hype for dealers and it gets them even more fired up. Plus, the state of the industry is generally positive this time of year.
The month of January can yield a lot of big picture plans and ideas inside the walls of a car dealership. However, a lot of people forget to focus on selling cars and end up just talking about how they are going to sell cars. There are new technologies, processes, and ideas about how to make this year the best ever. Dealership management teams spend a lot of time planning big and dreaming even bigger in January. Countless hours, even days can be spent working on “the ultimate plan.”
My friend and client Ken Sheperd, in a conversation yesterday, referred to this time of the year as “The Super Bowl of the Car Business.” Everyone gets excited about what the year holds until they realize in a couple of days/weeks that they are not executing the basics of the business. They must get back to the harsh reality that selling and managing in today’s multifaceted world is still a year round job. The selling will then start to overshadow the execution of all those big picture ideas and plans. Many things dreamed up in January will be a distant, forgotten dream by March. Everyone will merely be focused on what has to be done that day or week to maintain the sales pace of the industry.
With the Super Bowl of football approaching this weekend there will even be more excitement as car companies and industry vendors like AutoTrader are sure to have ads in the big game. Amid all that hype, do not forget this simple fact: In the retail car business, nothing happens until somebody sells something.