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Your Best Strategy in 2007 is Your Forecast

February might be the month that will provide you with insight as to where your new year is headed. By this time, your plan should be ready and you should be implementing it across your operation.

In a previous article, I presented an outline designed to assist you in developing your plan. The plan needs to contain four key segments. Controlling these four key segments is vital to the success of your plan.
Key Segments for your Plan:
Forecast Sales vs. Actual Sales
  • Sales by Category
    • Hispanics
    • Non - Hispanics
  • Salesperson
    • Vehicle
      • Price Range
      • Type
    • Customers
      • Hispanics
      • Non-Hispanics
  • Vehicle
    • Car
      • Hispanics
      • Non-Hispanics
    • Trucks
      • Hispanics
      • Non-Hispanics
    • Mini-Vans
      • Hispanics
      • Non-Hispanics
  • Collections
    • By Area
      • Hispanics
      • Non-Hispanics
    • Salesperson
    • Product
  • Profits
    • Hispanics Sales
    • Non-Hispanic Sales
  • Expenses
    • Hispanicso 
    • Non-Hispanics

As I have traveled throughout the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, I have consistently found the same thing when visiting automotive dealership operations. Only 80 percent of them have a forecast, and 80 percent of them that do don’t follow it. 

When I addressed this failure with them, they respond with plenty of stories. I hear stories all the time. My wife and I are raising four children in our home. I know a story when I hear it, and I call it an excuse.

  • “The boss wants it but he never uses it, so why should I?”
  • “It is too aggressive.”
  • “It wasn’t challenging.”
  • It goes on and on.

Control of your sales force is paramount. More and more I am seeing salespeople who “do their own thing.” It troubles me when I witness that in an operation. Regardless of how good they are, your sales staff cannot “do their own thing.” Your sales force must adhere to and follow your plan. You and your management staff must back up the plan and hold the staff accountable. When management and staff are working together on a common plan for a specific goal, your dealership will have increased success. 

A great way to hold everyone accountable is to have a weekly commitment plan by everyone on the sales team. A weekly commitment works to retain focus.  At a minimum, the plan should include: current customer follow-up, new prospects and past customer activity.  The weekly commitment plan should then be a part of the manager’s plan. Your managers and your sales force must be focused on the short term. You job is to keep your focus on the long term. When you think long term, your current year will become more successful.

Another way to make this year more successful is utilize your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or other management software. Software makes it easy to keep track of and maintain all of the information you are receiving, generate reports and view statistics. Statistics give you the knowledge to make decisions and knowledge gives you the ability to follow your plan. You must keep track of what’s being accomplished in your plan as well as what may need to be changed for next year.

If you do these things, your forecast then turns into a strategic tool. You turn it around and start using it for future terms. You do the analysis with the next two years in mind, versus the next 30 days. Yes, it is only February, but it’s time to start thinking and planning for 2008 – and the year after that.

Use your information to stay on your plan, monitor the performance of your sales team and track the development of your current market. It will assist you when planning your marketing strategies, a topic I will save for a future article.

Vol 4, Issue 2



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