What does it mean to “arrive? For some, the thought means getting to a place where you no longer have to work at the same level you did before, meaning less work. You can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Maybe sit on a beach all day, play golf seven days a week or whatever you enjoy doing. Personally, I find this a total fallacy.
Use this time of year to remind yourself and your team that progress is the goal.
Think about farmers. When the season begins, they work the soil. They get it prepped and then plant their seeds. Then they are fertilizing, watering, and handling pest control. They do this grind day after day until they are ready to harvest. Then another huge load of work, they have to reap the work of the seeds they sowed. Then after harvest, they realize the fruits of the work they did the past seasons and perhaps invest in themselves with new equipment that can make their operations more efficient. Perhaps a vacation, but guess what happens in the spring? They do it all again. But this time they have another year of experience, hopefully better tools, and a better plan of attack to make this season the best ever.
Think about professional athletes. After their season ends, they get some time off, but then off-season workouts happen to continue to hone their craft with team workouts, then pre-season and then the real season starts. They all come in with what should be better tools, usable experience, better mental preparedness and a better attitude and knowledge on how to put it all together.
Our business is always changing, sometimes it changes for the better and sometimes not, but change happens. What does not change is the need to hone skills, increase knowledge, learn new things, and remember that the grind never stops.
Get Back to Grinding
I remember years ago I was in a counseling meeting with a salesperson who was struggling. He was selling 8-10 cars a month and was in real danger of not only having extra stress at work, through a counseling session and perhaps a performance improvement plan, but there were financial troubles at home as a result of the lower performance.
This was a 12-year veteran of this dealership who had been an upper performer for most of that time. So what happened? As I was talking with him, he mentioned that he was told something when he was hired about longevity in this business. Once he told me, I was a bit shocked. He let me know that when he was hired, he was told that if he worked hard the first three or four years that he could begin to work a lot less hard, and his repeats and referrals would simply flow to him. And frankly, now he was upset that it had not worked out that way, as he was currently in a position of struggle.
After listening to him, I knew that I needed to get his attention. So I told him that he was not given accurate information. Not at all. I reminded him that professional baseball players hit off of a tee in practice, and that they also play catch during practice. He agreed that was the case.
I reminded him that if he truly wanted to be a long-term professional he needed to shake the idea that he had “arrived.” He needed to get that out of his head and go back to the activities that made him successful. He needed to get back to grinding. I did agree that perhaps he did not need to fight for ups every day, but he needed to call sold customers, unsold customers, mail postcards, get into the service department, basically fill his day with activities that would cause car deals. He should not sit in his office and wait for someone to walk in and ask for him.
Use this time of year to remind yourself and your team that progress is the goal. We are here to grow. Period. Look at trees, they grow and grow their entire life span. There is no “arriving.” There is simply a shift to the next level.
Jason Heard is a 25-year auto retail veteran with extensive sales and sales management experience. Contact him at [email protected]