Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Counting My 2008 Blessings! Thank you!

I'm counting my incredible blessings in 2008. I sure try to do that as I go, but now I can look back at a larger piece of time--a whole year--and add them up. It was an incredible year for me. Easily one of the best ever! 2009 is expected to make 2008 look like a practice session.

I can hardly believe what has been accomplished in 2008. It is a very long list. One thing stands clear to me: I am a Fire, Ready, Aim kind of guy and if I had been a Ready, Aim, Fire person, almost nothing would have changed. Sometimes you just have to trust and move out and see what happens. We did and its amazing.

I especially want to thank all of you who have given me encouragement and your kind thoughts. It has been a joy sharing ideas with you. On behalf of my partner Ryan Stone and myself, we thank you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No Competition. Really.

The definition of competition from Webster's New World Dictionary is "1. the act of competing; rivalry, 2. a contest, or match, 3. official participation in organized sport, 4. opposition, or effective opposition, in a contest or match, 5. Rivalry in business, as for customers or markets, 6. the person or persons against whom one competes, and 7. Ecology the struggle among individual organisms for food, water, space, etc. when the available supply is limited."

There is no competition. It is you doing what you do and you can do all you can do or you can do less than all you can do. It is what it is. It is not a race and it is not up to someone else.

As a dealer, you don't compete with the dealer down the street, or a nearby town. Your focus area is your focus and you do what you can do with what you have to work with. Fearing others coming in and taking away what is yours is ludicrous. The only way that happens is if you are not doing all you can do with what you have to work with. This doesn't cause competition to increase, it causes your potential customers to go elsewhere because of you. There is plenty. When I was with a dealer, I could care less what the dealer in the next town was doing. I just paid attention to what I was doing.

I worked for a body company for 10 years and there were a number of other companies building similar products and calling on the same clients, but I never really saw them as competing with me or I with them. I was just doing what I could do to serve the clients who wanted to do business with me and I served them to the best of my ability and skill. Sometimes we might have a new product, but that wouldn't last long, so you just have to concentrate on being the best you can be in product and service.

I used to hear dealers complain about the dealer in the other town that was just giving the products away and they just couldn't compete with them. Baloney! They aren't giving them away and never have. They are just serving the customer and the customer chose them. You get all the chances you want.

I've heard the same with body companies. If you've got a good product and you have good service and your pricing is fair, you've got plenty. I will tell you that from my experience, the service is the most important of those three. I was hardly ever the lowest price, but I got plenty.

You got you and you. There you go. No competition.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's An Old Idea Whose Time Has Gone

I know a few dealers and a few bailment pool body companies who think that their inventory is their value. They think the inventory is a draw for them. They think that if they have it, the buyers will come to them because they have it. That could work in a few instances, but it is an old idea whose time has gone. It is a lack mentality and it will limit their growth.

Before the Internet, information was power, now anyone can have the information. Yet business has grown as a result. Think of sharing your inventory openly and all will benefit including you. I've watched this over the years and tested the holding the inventory and opening it up theories and I can tell you that holding it doesn't pay off. Your value needs to be elsewhere.

Think abundance and think of your fellow businesses not as competition, but as partners helping each other grow. You'll be surprised how well this works. Flooring expense will eat everyone's profits. There is really no such thing as competition in an abundant world--just constant improvement.

Here's a better place for your value: Building customer relationships, expanding services, product innovation, product expansion, marketing assistance to your customers, training, quicker and more efficient service. These are ideas whose time has come and will always be the best of ideas.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

You Don't Turn the Tide

I love great quotes from famous and not so famous people. I love them because they tend to stick with me and the remind me to think. Today's post is about one of my favorite (in my top 10 easily) quotes:

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, when taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." - William Shakespeare

You don't turn the tide, you prepare for it.

Think about this "worldwide financial crisis" (sounds pretty demonic . . .) as a low tide. Matter of fact, the tide is so low that you can see the mud flats for a very long way. The stink of the mud is all around. You can see the debris that careless people have tossed into the water that is now fully exposed. It is not your normal view. This is a very rare low tide. It's almost like what happens prior to a tsunami.

There's no point getting used to this view. It is extremely temporary, unless you want to view it the way it is now. Even though this might be an extended low tide as if Venus and the Moon and Mars are all aligned and pulling as never before. . . it is temporary.

If you're fond of circumstances, you will talk about the low tide at length. You will even get involved in all sorts of predictions about how it happened, who's to blame and what the future of stinking mud is. You might even be on the littering committee that is focused on all that trash that is now exposed out there. There's so much to do and so little time. . .

Or, you could be reminded of Shakespeare's quote and start focusing on the flood of the tide coming in and being prepared to deal with that instead. Low tide is an excellent time to prepare for high tide. There is no better time, matter of fact. While the tide is low, what changes can you make that will affect a greater positive change for you when the tide comes back in? You've lived enough years to know that you can seriously count on the tide coming in as well as it going out, so you know it is not long before the tide will be in again. If you haven't prepared for that change, your fortune will lost in the mud.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Change Your Mind In 2009

Whatever you hate about 2008, you'll continue to find in 2009 . . . unless . . . you change your mind. Without a change in thinking, there will be no real change in 2009. Circumstance doesn't control you, your thinking controls your circumstance. The changing of the date, even the year will matter not.

I hereby resolve to . . . It is that time of year when this long list of resolutions come out and on January 2nd, they were just brief passions. I know because I was an expert at resolutions. I quit smoking thousands of times. Then, one day, I just stopped. No plan. No resolution. Just stopped. Not going to do this anymore no matter what. No patch will change it. No support group. It is a change in thinking and that leads to a change in actions. Together they change the world.

You are going to get that website built in 2009? Just make the call and get it done. Forget about 2009, just do it. You are going to get a serious follow up program with your customers? Start today, right now. Need help? Call us. Call someone. Go online. Just do it. You're going to really grow your commercial department and stop all this flooring expense? We know how. Stop thinking about it and do something. Call us. Call someone else who knows how, but get it done today.

It's not a matter of money. That's BS. It's not a matter of time. That's also BS. It is a matter of thinking. Change it. Decide what you want and reach out for answers. It is truly a simple matter once the thinking changes.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Run the Tapes - Tally Oh!

A few more days until this year is over. Part of the planning process should be running the tapes, taking the tally of this year. It's a great time to do this. Some good questions will get it going. . .
  • Do the numbers and compare this year with previous years. This is a given, and you might as well do it, pretty or not.
  • More important: In what ways have you grown this year? Maybe sales and income were off, but you can still grow in all kinds of ways. Did you? In what ways?
  • What worked well? You already know what didn't work, so concentrate on the easy things to forget like what did work. In what ways did you improve this year? Improve your skills? Improve your methods?
  • Run the tapes. Take a good close look over this whole year and see what you can gain from the process.

You might find reasons to celebrate and that makes it worth the effort all right! Tally Oh!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas gift suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

--Oren Arnold (1900-1980)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Planning Ahead & Looking Forward To Change

If your sales were up this year, a celebration is in order and you are fortunate. I think most might admit that sales were off somewhat this year over last and perhaps that isn't a strong enough phrase. Let's celebrate this too, because this change has most likely caused you to not want that repeated. You may be thinking seriously about what you might be able to do to affect an upward trend in your sales and income even though it is generally a downward market. That is worth celebrating!

Here's some ideas to ponder. It's always been true that people like doing business with people they can trust and with whom they feel comfortable. In other words, it is the relationship that is the key. It has also generally been true in most businesses, but the auto business in particular that developing a relationship with your customers is not a priority. The focus has predominantly been on new business and repeat business has always been a blessing, but it is extra. In addition, as time goes on, there are more and more outlets to buy from, so it will pay handsomely to get some of your attention and focus on to your customers and who they know and can influence. If you changed this one thing, it could change everything for you.

I suggest that you make a plan on how and when you will communicate with your customers; how you will market to your customers and how you will expand your sales to your customers. It is your own personal gold mine! The real key to change is to think differently in order to change your actions and outcome.

Ask yourself some questions: How have you followed up with your customers in the past? Did you have a follow up system? How did you communicate with them? What methods? At what cost? Did you do any marketing to your customers? If so, how was that done and what were the results? Do they come to your store for regular maintenance service and repairs? How regularly? Did you expand your customers without adding any first line customers? In other words, what did you do to grow your customer base without adding any new walk-in sales? How detailed is your customer database information? What program is your database in?

Some recommendations:

  • Use good customer management software such as ACT!, Maximizer or other similar inexpensive and effective programs. I have used Maximizer since 1997 and it works nicely. ACT! is the world's most popular CRM software and we also use ACT!. Get as much detail about your customers as you can. Consider the Mackay 66 by Harvey Mackay (here is a pdf download: Mackay 66 PDF.

  • Study the concept of multi-level marketing at least at the basic level. It will be very helpful. Do a Google search for multi-level marketing explained and you will find a lot.

  • It is a good idea to follow up on a regular basis and include marketing messages. In addition, it is as much who they know as knowing them. I highly recommend getting all the email addresses that you can and use HTML email marketing for your follow up and many of your marketing messages. It is almost free. The best program that I have found and currently use myself is Constant Contact. It is easy to learn and you can make some very nice looking emails with photos, links, etc.

  • For those without email addresses, you can do a small amount of mail and of course, the telephone will be a valuable tool, especially for the more personal contacts.

  • Another tool you can use is to build your own website. Building websites has become a pretty easy thing and very inexpensive if you can do the work yourself. You could even have several websites.

  • A more valuable tool that is free is creating a blog. A blog is a great communication tool for sharing information and it is easy to create links to it in your emails and other communications.

  • Develop some video presentations of various products you sell and post the videos on your blog, website and you can also email them to prospects and clients. People love video. Open a YouTube (TM) account for free and post them there as well, which makes them easily linked in any of your email messages.
This is much more than just staying in touch. It is seriously looking at your customer and prospect base as a marketing target in order to solidify your sales and income. It will create a whole new business for you--and, you have the power to get it done with or without the dealerships help. You're in charge. Go for it!

Need more ideas? Give Terry a call at 707-434-9967 or Ryan at 707-480-0959.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Planning & Forcasting Like Football

A company I worked for have their planning and forecasting meeting for the following year near the end of the first month to the middle of the second month. One year it was in the third month. What's wrong with that picture?

Planning and forecasting like that is like a football team showing up for the playoffs and in the middle of the first quarter, calling a time out to strategize how to deal with this team. You know they had to have watched the films, made the play plans, practiced and planned and forecasted and readied their strategies long before this game. It is way too late even the day before, let alone the day of the game.

If your company is going to be planning and forecasting next year, it might have started in October, but worst case scenario is early December. You want to hit the ground running, right? By the time you get to December, it is pretty much done except for the results. So, it makes perfect sense to get the game plan going for at least the next quarter if not the whole year. Get it planned out. If it doesn't meet the plan, modify the plans as needed, but have a plan.

How will you market? What will you market? What sells best in the first quarter, second quarter, third and so on? What new products do you want to bring to market? Considering the current business climate, what will be changed to try to move the needle upward? What were the successes last year? What were the failures last year? How is my mix of product? What should I change about my mix? What about services? Can I increase my business in another area to help make up for the lower amounts in other areas? How do I market that? Where can I get some help?

Waiting until the next year is under way is completely ineffective. You might as well plan your day after lunch--that is, if you can stop it long enough to do so. Do your planning and forecasting like a great football team. Get your game on!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Don't Fire Them, Fire Them Up!

I recently heard of a company who decided to cut their costs by firing their entire outside sales team. Is that like trying to increase sales by locking the doors, or what? If your company lives by sales (like which don't?), this is a questionable strategy to say the least. Sounds to me like we need a new general manager--someone with a real vision.

I ran across the book Don't Fire Them, Fire Them Up: Motivate Yourself and Your Team by Frank Pacetta a few years ago and I must have given away 25 copies to other managers. It is a great read right now in this business climate. It holds a lot of wisdom, ideas to change gears, and strategies to build teams--all for under $11. What a deal. You can read it in one day if you wanted to, or two tops. Don't fire your team, fire them up! And, you don't do that by talking about the problems, but showing them solutions and leading. Go for it!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

YouTube Is ________!

YouTube is disgusting. It is also quite enlightening. It is sad. It is funny. Downright hilarious, matter of fact. YouTube is many things and it has become one of my favorite places on the Internet. It is one of my favorite places to see funny stuff. YouTube has pretty much anything you could imagine, but you need not be bothered with what you don't like--just focus on what you do like. And, there should be plenty of that on YouTube.

I'll give you some of my favorites (and I've only just begun to find them, let alone the many that are posted every minute of every day. . .) and see if you think they are funny!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYmsr8Sy4K0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s44-Fs7VcmY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCZKrAnRTfg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM7GB3dPI6Q

This is a very small selection. Find your own. Go to YouTube and type in funny or hilarious, or silly and see what comes up. You never know, you might just forget your troubles for a few minutes. Hey, that's a great idea!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Some Inventory Solutions - Engine Mix

It has been my experience in the last number of years that the supply has exceeded the demand for diesel trucks. This is one of the reasons that there is a glut of old inventory: 95% of them are diesel. It's time to change and stop doing the same thing over and over again--stocking the same bodies on the same chassis year after year. As the market goes back to normal in the next number of months, plan to make different decisions on your stocking and I predict that you will have a good deal more success and less flooring costs.

It has been my experience and that of others that the market in round numbers is about 50% gas and 50% diesel. I like diesel, but I would stock about 65% gas and 35% diesel now and in the near future. I know a lot of dealers are dropping their overall inventory levels due to very slow sales, and what is happening is they are losing sales because they are not replacing units that do sell. Do what you can about that, but make a decision to change your approach from here on and it will serve you well. Even if you stocked 50/50 you would make a lot more sales.

Back in the early 1970's when I first started selling trucks, diesel fuel was about 25% less cost than regular gas. Now diesel fuel is between 35 and 60% more than gas. The fuel economy of the diesel is not good enough to make up this difference. The only real advantage left is that there is more power generated per mile per gallon. That advantage is only used under certain circumstances. Bottom line: gas is the winner overall. If diesel ever goes back to being substantially less than gas, this may change the percentage, but it will never be what I have seen many dealers doing by stocking 80-90% diesel. That doesn't reflect the marketplace at all.

With the addition of the new emission systems for diesels the maintenance costs have risen sharply. Diesels were always higher cost in maintenance and now it become much harder to justify owning a diesel except for certain companies and situations. These are things that can very easily be pointed out to customers so they can see what their costs will be.

Last item is reliability. One of the great selling features in the past was the longer life of the diesel motor. GM and Ford have been playing around with diesels since the 1980's with very mixed results. This makes the reliability and longevity seriously in question. Having a 100,000 mile warranty doesn't help much. Another good reason to change your mix.

The bottom line is selling more trucks and having happy customers. One way to do this better is to change the mix of engines to favor the gas. The demand for diesel will be there for a long time, but the demand generally doesn't exceed 50%. Don't forget to calculate the flooring cost savings as profit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Old Inventory Ideas

Here's some ideas to help move some old inventory without taking major losses.

  • Always keep this thought in mind: the truck goes down in value, but the body does not.
  • Bodies are not permanently mounted to the chassis.
  • The more expensive the body, the harder it is to move the whole truck. Lighten the load. Put a lower cost body on the truck and blow it out without a huge loss. The lower the overall cost, the easier it is to move.

Let me give you some examples of trucks I've seen on lots recently.

Problem: A dealer had a single rear unit with an 8' service body and it was a past year model and over 500 days old. Incentives are cashed out. It is a diesel (main reason it is still there and makes it more expensive by $6k).

Solution: Take an '08 or better yet, an '09 same color with a pickup bed, have a body company switch them so that the units are re-certified. Now your old unit is about $4-5,000 less without a discount. This works because the 56" CA chassis is really a box delete pickup model, so the body company can install the bed no problem.

Problem: A 14' contractor body on an LCF. Past year model, over 500 days old.

Solution: This is not a good body choice in general for this chassis, but the good news is that this is a great chassis and the 108"CA will be a great selling feature. The rack is specially made for the LCF, but the rest of the body is fine. It needs to come off this truck and a body that makes more sense to go on. If they had a current model LCF, we could swap, but in this case, the body needs to come off and go on the ground temporarily. Next, install a 14' low cost van body, 84" height, no options. You will not reduce the cost a lot, but have a much more popular and saleable body on this chassis, so it will move much faster now. Another great choice is a landscape body. That will not reduce the cost, but raise it; however, it is a great body for this truck.

Problem: A 12' landscape dump on an F550 past year diesel. Well over 500 days.

Solution: The chassis is nice, but very expensive compared to a F350 which will do fine for this body. I would flop the landscaper onto a new F350 Gas unit and throw a plain flatbed with a hitch on the F550 and cheap sell the truck. You should make a nice profit on the landscaper now.

Problem: An F450 with an 11' service body has been around for a long, long time.

Solution: One more time, flop this body on to a new chassis out of the pool and have them put a standard flatbed with a hitch on the F450 and move it on down the road.

Problem: A past year F450 empty chassis in stock.

Solution: Empty chassis do not sell well. Do not keep empty chassis longer than two months before putting a body on it. Also, taking chassis out of the pool will get more free flooring by some manufacturers than ordering them yourself. Empty chassis are just dead weight. Put bodies that will sell on them and move the package. This includes most of your medium duty units. At least you have something to sell then.

If you have specific units you would like advice on, I'll be happy to help you on this at no cost. Call Terry at 707-434-9967 or send an email to tminion@commercialtrucksuccess.com.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back to School - 6th Period


6th Period. Last class of the day. And this is truly the best class of the day. The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. What a pleasure to go home with the power of the message in this great little book and continually mold my life by my thoughts.

Of all the books and recordings I've come across, this is very high on the list of the most enlightening and powerful. I first heard it in late 1972 and recently bought the Special Millennium Edition CD, a duplicate of the original recording in 1956. A perfect way to review.

What an end to a great day! See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Back to School - Fifth Period

Fifth period is all about communication and these two classics are constantly in demand. Even though How to Win Friends & Inflence People was written in 1937, it is just as powerful today as then. Try some of the other books that Dale Carnegie wrote and you'll find a good list. This classic is available in audio as well and that is a great way to have it so you can play it while you commute.

Another book that has become a classic is How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere by Larry King. Larry is a master communicator and as you know already, it is much about questions and getting the other to talk. A wonderful book.

So, for less than $25, here is a whole course in communications skills. A must on everyone's sales skills list.





Monday, December 15, 2008

Back to School - Fourth Period


Physical Ed (and mental ed) It's fourth period after lunch and this is one of my favorite classes: Awaken the Giant Within. There's no doubt about the fact that Anthony Robbins changes lives. I've heard some people make fun of him for his late night infomercials and the advertisements, but that comes from people who haven't read his books, listened to his tapes, watched his videos or attended his events. He offers powerful change with simplicity and common sense.

This is without a doubt one of the more powerful books I have read and I have given many, many copies away. One of the parts I love in this book is the words we choose to use and how they affect our attitudes. Does it matter that I am pissed off or if I were just a bit tinkled, would that change anything? It changes everything! He has a whole chapter and a list of awesome suggestions for replacing common words and phrases that we take for granted.

One of the things that I learned that I teach in my classes is that you have to get into a certain physical stature in order to get depressed: head down, shallow breathing, droopy eyes, sloppy posture. The key is changing the physical attitude and how that has a direct connection to the mental attitude. Simply true and simply powerful.

Excellent book from a world class instructor! If you must, take it home in a brown bag. . .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Back to School - Lunch Period

Hey, wanna trade that peanut butter & jelly for my baloney sandwich? Nice lunch box! Yeah, right!

Hey, did ya know that my next door neighbors like their hot dogs with grape jelly on them? Kinda wierd, don't ya think?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Back to School - Recess

You remember recess period, don't you? Well, we all needed that in school and we need it just as much now--maybe more!

Today I am recommending for your recess pleasure and older book that is so funny it makes you cry when you're laughing. You can now buy it for a song, but it is worth a huge amount: Jay Leno's Headlines - Books 1, 2 & 3.

I can assure you that it will be a laugh outloud pleasure. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Back to School - Third Period

In second period we are studying The Sales Bible and networking is part of that book, this subject requires a whole period of its own and this is the book to study: Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Black Book of Connections.

It is a very easy book to get into because it is so straightforward and the mixture of graphics, text styles, lists and such makes it fun to move through. It is also the kind of book you can start and work on a bit and come back to it for more again and again. It comes standard with a book marker. And all of this for less than $14. A Bargain!

This is a time of preparation for the future when business is back on track. "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." -- William Shakespeare

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Back to School - Second Period

Now it's second period and time to brush up on new sales skills.

There's a lot to choose from in today's world, but this one covers more bases and gives you all the bang for the buck. Priced on Amazon.com at under $30 and the best part is that this is the unabridged complete book, on CD's read by the author, Jeffrey Gitomer. It's his very first audiobook. You can spend another $15 or so and get the book and follow along!

This is a powerful tool and will give you some great ideas to use to help create business. The Sales Bible.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back To School - First Period

Now is a great time to get some new sales and personal development skills. There's time and here is an interesting and enjoyable way to get some good training for a song: TSTN The Success Training Network. Click the link and you'll find very professional videos from the world's top success trainers and experts. Here's a short list: Bob Proctor, Ellie Drake, Jim Cathcart, Tony Alessandra, Don Hutson, Vic Johnson, Connie Podesta, Jim Rohn, Dr. Denis Waitley, Cynthia Kersey, Ford Saeks, Ron White, Ziz Ziglar, George Walther, Chris Widener, Robert Helms and Russell Gray, Dianna Booher, Jerry Clark, Dr. David Cook, Todd Duncan, Ridgely Goldsborough, Christopher Guerriero, Scott McKain, and the list goes on.

They have a 7-day free trial, so you can watch all you want for nothing! Then, if you want to continue, it is only $29.95 per month. Extremely inexpensive high quality training. You can pause the videos and come back to them too. I just love TSTN and you may as well. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pump You UP!

In times like this, YouTube is a attitude saver! I do an email newsletter for Commercial Truck Success every other week (view and subscribe) and for the past several months I've been adding a couple of funny videos I find on YouTube. The interesting part is that it takes me a couple of hours of hilarious laughing to finally pick two to put in the newsletter. Some people might call that a waste of time, but I call it my Joy Time! A lot of the stuff on YouTube is so much funnier than anything on TV and most of them are less than 3 minutes. Just about anything you could think of is on there.

Tonight I was thinking of Hanz and Franz and the Pump You UP! Saturday Night Live skits. Fun like this is absolutely necessary lately. Might as well laugh. It sure does take the stress of it all away. I just love that line, "listen to him now, and believe him later. . ."

So, for your enjoyment, I have included two of the best links I could find on YouTube. The first is a commercial for a Chevy dealer and it is well done. The guy on the right looks very similar to Arnold and sounds like him too which makes it more interesting.

Here it is: Bill Forbes Chevrolet.

The second is an elementary school presentation that is very funny and well done. The audio could be better, but you will enjoy it I'm sure.

Here is the second: Josh & Matt - 1994ish

Have an awesome, laugh-filled day!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It Is The Perfect Time!

We talked with a potential customer for a website the other day and he is in a cyclical business and this is the downtime. There is a certain amount of maintenance, but his business peaks in the warm late Spring through Summer months. So he said that he was thinking about doing something in February or March. He said now was not a good time.

We say, now is the perfect time! If you wait until it is busy, there is no way that you will spend the time even if you have the money. Now is the time to spend the time writing out what you want to say. Now is the time to invest the time and work out the money and get the thing done so when it does get busy, you are more than ready to take advantage of that wonderful change in a new and better way.

This is great advice right now in the auto industry. Based on the fears of the public or whatever reason it is slower, now is a great time to take care of those things that you've thought about but never had time for. You know the list. Get your database cleaned up. Create some great email templates. Learn how to use email marketing through a company like Constant Contact. It's really easy and inexpensive. Gather a long list of email addresses for your customers and prospects and friends and start one or more regular communications like a newsletter. If you pay for it out of your own pocket, it is less than $20 per month. Read Permission Marketing by Seth Godin and The One To One Future by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers and the others that you've been meaning to get around to.
While you're doing what you can with what you've got, it is the perfect time to rebuild the walkway, pull the weeds, repair the fence, improve your selling skills, whatever. If nothing else, a huge benefit will be less time to worry.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Use The Money Wisely - Lend It!

In talking with a number of commercial salespeople of late the bigger problem with the downturn in sales is that they are struggling to get people with good credit and good down payments a loan to sell the vehicle to make a profit to stay in business.

If the big 3 each take $1 Billion (they throw that number around like it's chump change), they could each make FORTY THOUSAND $25,000 loans. Seems like that would be the best place to put money. . . or make sure that each dealer who is trying like crazy to sell a vehicle the Big 3 already built gets a reasonable piece of the bailout pie. It seems only fair.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Big 3 vs The Little 25

When I was a young child, there were a good number of American made automobiles that were not the Big 3. We owned a Hudson, a Studebaker, several Packard's. Big could be better, but not necessarily. How about the Little 25? Lots of smaller companies vying for business, perhaps creating more innovative products.

How about some better commercial truck chassis too. There has been so much sameness for the last 35 years or so. It'll be fun and interesting. If you've been outside the US, you've seen some very different sizes of commercial trucks, along with much more fuel efficient pieces. I'm ready to see some change. How about you?

This will require government to get leaner too. The cost to bring a new model to market with crash testing and the like is staggering.

It seems unlikely looking at the past, but. . . it could happen.

The Power Of Your Own Feedback

There is nothing more powerful than your own feedback (self-talk). Whether it is an event that has happened or an event that could happen matters little. It is the feedback that you give yourself about this that really matters.

The one thing that has changed my life dramatically in the last two years more than anything else is the consistency of my own positive feedback about what I think and experience. In the past I was positive when things were good and still I found things to complain about, so there was no consistency to the positive thoughts. They were short lived. Kind of like weeds taking over the flower bed in the garden--pretty soon you can't even see the flowers. I thought I was a positive person, but how could you really tell through all those weeds?

What has changed now is the weeds are pulled out quickly before they have a chance to multiply and the focus is on the flowers. This is no small accomplishment! Yet, it has come about in a very short period of time compared to my whole life. That's the good news! If I can do it--anyone can do it!

If you would like to have that kind of change but have it come even sooner than it took me, here's my suggestion: 1. Decide you really want it and will be open to learning. 2. Read a book and study it. I could give you a list of books, but the one book that will make the biggest, most powerful change is The Astonishing Power of Emotions. I highly recommend it because it works. I know it has had a powerful positive effect on me. Enjoy your new found freedom!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Power Of Positive Expectation

The majority of the people I talk to in the last many months are not the same people I know. They're infected with fear and negative expectation. Most are experiencing anxiety or dread of future events that may or may not happen. Isn't that the way it is with most fear of the future--that it may or may not happen.

"'Tis nothing good or bad, that thinking makes it so" - William Shakespeare

Remember back two or three years ago when things were good and thoughts of the future were bright and positive? Remember how you felt? Remember how busy you were and how optimistic you were?

"There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow." - Orison Swett Marden

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Power Of Positive Feedback

I have a lot of stories on this subject, and there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest to me. It's the story of how I became a songwriter.

In 1983, I was sales manager at a car dealership. My wife turned 30 that year and I decided to write her a song. I had written one song prior to that in 1969 and it was not very good, but I was determined to do this and have a band play it and sing it on her birthday. So I did it and it was a hit with her. After that, I was jazzed about writing songs and decided that after that I could write some more, so I began writing and bought a recorder and started recording my songs myself.

The finance manager played guitar and so I shared one or two of my efforts with him. He listened intently and gave me nothing but positive feedback. I was enamored with that and couldn't wait to get home and do some more. On my days off, I did 5 or 6 and would bring them in for critique. He just kept egging me on with praise. I listened to some of these tapes years later and they were pretty crude, but his praise seemed so sincere, he took time and listened with interest and he pointed out the things he liked best and of course, I did more of that too. I got better each time.

He gave me such confidence for the next few months that I decided to take the best ones and go to a real recording studio and record them. I went and had four songs recorded and used professional musicians and came back with a vastly improved tape, which led to doing a whole album, which led to writing about 150 songs and doing a serious amount of recording, which led me to singing and writing songs for the church and playing in a church band and much more. It was an awesome experience.

And I know absolutely who to thank for it. It was that positive feedback; that encouragement when I was incredibly vulnerable. It could just as easily gone the other way. I thank him all the time for the opportunity to have experienced so much around music and writing songs. It would not have happened had he responded differently, I'm sure of it.

The lesson this event taught me is to be an uplifter. It changed how I managed my sales people and how I responded to others. It even changed how I interacted with customers. It opened my mind to be an encourager and to find ways to give positive feedback whenever I can. I don't remember it everyday, but I'm not very far from it. I'm also reminded just how powerful an influence positive feedback can be--not just for the moment, but it can last for many years into the future.