Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Big Easy, NADA Convention 2009

Here we go again. It’s that time to pack our bags and head south to New Orleans, home of Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, Hurricanes (the drink) and the best Cajun Creole style food you can imagine. And I can imagine … mmmmm good breaux….

This year, New Orleans hosts the biggest group of entrepreneurs from both sides of the Mississippi, The National Automotive Dealers Association NADA. And as this is my blog, I have a few words on the subject. Car dealers as you walk the aisles of vendors and push your way through the crowds of your peers; I want you to ask yourself a question. Why are you here? I assume that its not the Cajun food or the Hurricanes down in the French Quarter and let’s hope it’s not for the other entertainment you can find on the street. Although a set of beads might be a fun souvenir and a great story to tell. You are probably here to discover the latest and greatest tool for increasing the profit and customer satisfaction of your dealership.

In today’s economy everyone is focusing on the fixed departments. Parts and service must be tuned up and running on all cylinders. You did not get to your level by sheer luck; it took skill, hard work and some luck thrown in there. My guidance today is real simple. This year leave your pocket book at home and your ink pen back at the hotel. Learn everything you can from the vendors, many have some great ideas and products. Grab your bag of goodies and high tail it back to your store. Put everything in your freezer. And say to yourself, can I live without this? In one month decide if the bag of goodies is worth thawing out…Not until you have done this:

Go for a walk in the parking lot with your service manager. This is FREE. You will pay no one but yourself with new tool. This is you and your staff walking around the lot. Find out what is going on in your store. Get engaged with your team. Listen to the people and find out what is on their minds. Develop the new habit of doing this parking lot walk with your service staff every morning. Remember it takes 21 days to make a habit. Write today’s date on the windshield each day and ask questions to the staff. When did this car arrive? Why is it still here? Why is their grass growing over the tires on this particular car? Imagine the answers you will hear.

Next, go talk to your service advisors. Talk to them about sales just like you talk to your salesmen up front. Motivate them to sell today. Never under estimate your value to perk up a department. We as service and parts guys and gals need your example and presence more than on occasion to inspire us to deliver higher results to the organization. I suspect you can move your effective labor rate 1 or 2 dollars just by talking about it with your staff.

When you are serious about an increase in ELR, hit me up. I propose that you talk to the ELR Guru, Mr. Ray Branch. Ray has analyzed more repair orders than anyone on the planet. He knows ELR. I used Rays’ ROAMS Tool in many locations around the country and every time it generated at least $10 dollars increase in ELR. And it is so easy to use.

And if you want to skip NADA all together and save the hang over until next year, ill give you my thoughts…to increase your sales and gross profit, call Dave Waco at MOC products. He has a proven and effective program to drive profits in both parts and service…to increase your traffic, call Shawn at Car Dealer Promotions CDP, he will reconnect you with your customers, and especially get those lost soles back into your service drive…finally if you need someone to train and motivate your staff, call Chris Collins. His passion is turning around stores. I rarely put my name out there for vendors or consultants, these people and their companies know how to do the deal!

Finally, this year there is not Big Easy solution. Invest in your biggest asset, your staff. They will reward you many times over.

Steve Shaw,

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