Tilt Cab Wars: Winners, Losers (Deserters)

I just finished talking about tilt cab advantages #1-6 and the main reason I chose this subject this time is that I have seen a lot of dealers (many Ford LCF dealers) who took on the tilt cab, did little with it and then quit in disgust--hence, the title of this post: Tilt Cab Wars: Winners, Losers (Deserters). I've seen a lot of deserters and they started deserting long before they actually left. It was evident in their displays and their lack of actions in promoting the truck.

To get in and have the franchise, the Ford dealer only needed to commit to 5 units in stock. Such a small number. Many took 5 units and never bought another one. Some took too many 84" CA and this was partly due to bailment pool lack of tilt cab expertise. Many eventually took substantial loses on their remaining 1-2 year old units. Every one of the losses and every one of the deserters were due to ineffective and mismanaged commercial departments. Of course, this mismanagement has a negative effect on all their commercial sales regardless of cab design. I know many from actual experience, and yet, I hate to see Ford lose a potentially good geographic point.

There are a lot of reasons that losers lose, but the main reason winners win is this: The winners don't quit. They stay in the game and keep learning. They are committed.

I don't want this to sound like I'm banging on Ford LCF dealers. The above scenario probably happens at many tilt cab dealers. My purpose in writing about this is to help the dealer who wants to put things into perspective and to make a commitment to making the tilt cab to be a viable and profitable part of their overall commercial operation and I have some points to make to help make it more successful.

First, when I say Tilt Cab Wars, I am speaking about competition. Let's just get it out in the open: Isuzu is the leader in this market by a very sizable margin. Many dealers might even use this as an excuse to bail, but I say don't compete, but instead create. I started two Isuzu tilt cab franchises in two stores, so I am very familiar with Isuzu and the identical Chevy and GMC badged counterparts. I've used that experience to try to help some Ford LCF dealers to get excited about the opportunity they have.

Many would hear that Isuzu was the leader and think that the way to market the product would be to compete with Isuzu (even at Ford meetings they would always compare their features with Isuzu and even suggest that inroads could be made in taking market share away from Isuzu). That is a waste of valuable time and energy. If that approach is taken, I can guarantee failure. Isuzu has been in this game for a very long time and they are very good at it. In many ways it is a superior product. Trying to compete is silly for the LCF because about 50% of the Isuzu sales are gas motors and the LCF has only diesel. That's just one major stumbling block to competition. If you're going to bother competing, you might want a more closely matched competitor. Competition is not the answer. Creative selling is. Find your features, get sold yourself, get excited, and sell the benefits to the customer. Create your own market rather than trying to take a piece of someone else's.

Second, also regarding the phrase Tilt Cab Wars is some dealers might think that taking on a tilt cab franchise will automatically compete with existing conventional cab sales. It is not going to work quite that way. In this case and the case in the previous paragraph, we would be thinking very small. I want to encourage a dealer to think more globally--like this: Adding a tilt cab franchise will allow me to offer more and better solutions for my potential customers problems which will allow me to make additional profits, gain additional customers and thereby gain additional referrals and repeat sales. It's not about war. It's about solutions to your customers problems. The more solutions you can produce, the more trust you will gain with your customers and the more sales and profits will be made.

The best thing is to look at adding the tilt cab as more and different solutions and to become so familiar with the product that you know how to express the customer benefits that you will be opening your customers mind to better ways of doing a thing and how that will help them do what they do better, more efficiently and more profitably.

Commit to keeping the franchise. Learn the Tilt Cab Benefits #1-6--especially #1, #2 and #3.

Offer better solutions by staying away from the 84" CA tilt cab and stocking longer chassis. Seek alternative solutions from various vendors rather than the same bodies over and over again. If you use the same body, you can modify the dimensions and create a different solution as well as an attractive piece. As an example on this, rather than have a standard height service body on the tilt cab, put a taller body like a 56" tall body. It looks like it belongs on the truck with that height, whereas putting a standard height looks like a toy body because the cab is taller. Little things like this will make an amazing difference in turning the tilt cab inventory.

Last, and yet most important is to get people into and driving the truck. It will only be this experience that makes all the other points valid for them. Successful selling of a tilt cab franchise is all in how you choose to think about it. I hope some of these points will convince you of the benefits and to encourage you to be successful and profitable in selling them.

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