I have good news – we work in an industry of extreme uncertainty.

No one knows what changes will occur next year, next month or even tomorrow. No one knows with absolute certainty where those changes and new realities will come from or how significant they’ll be. Technological advances are happening with incredible speed and changing how consumers buy vehicles as well as how we market and sell them.

The foundation of your current success could collapse overnight! Change has always been a constant, but today the speed of change is greater than ever before. This isn’t going to slow down and the uncertainty will be with us for some time to come. This is not just very good news for you. This is great news.

Some see this hectic world reality as overwhelming and confusing. Success to them means the status quo – merely to survive and not lose market share, sales and profits. Those who believe that, at best, will merely survive. I see the same realities from a completely different angle.

“Fast paced change and uncertainty give the hunters of the auto industry huge opportunities to achieve massive success.”

Self–sabotage is doing things incrementally better. Make the decision to commit to the big breakthrough because this is the time to reach for major success and prosperity.

We work in an industry that right now is offering us new opportunities. And the rewards await the men and women who take advantage of it. There are only two certainties in uncertain times and those are are 1) opportunity and 2) possibility. This has always been true.

Think about the recession of 2007 through 2009. This forced vendors and dealers to change and innovate their products, quality, sales processes and efficiency. This innovation had the biggest impact on the car buying journey. The results have been an economic rebirth for those who took advantage of the opportunities and possibilities that faced them.

I’d like to introduce you to some essential strategies you will need to take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities that you face now. The strategies you need to “maximize” your dealership’s potential in 2019 and beyond. These strategies can be successfully applied in an uncomplicated, straightforward manner or they can be taken to extremely high levels of sophistication.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll attempt to go into more detail with each of them on how you can apply them to your dealership to produce more leads, more sales, more profits, more loyalty, more differentiators from competitors and more success.

The main focus will be on how you can improve your dealership. But the strategies can also be helpful in becoming a better leader and a person who holds a position of respect and influence.

The auto industry, right now is ripe for probably the greatest time of opportunity and possibility in your life. We live in a new world of opportunity. And if you apply these tips and strategies, you will live in a new world of success.

5 Tips to apply now:

Our brain is an amazing thing. It’s capable of understanding incredibly complex and intricate concepts. Yet think about all the times we don’t recognize the obvious and simple.

1. Save time and money by avoiding costly learning curves

Avoiding costly learning curves enables you to run rings around the dealers you compete with before they figure out what you did to them. An easy way to do this is by borrowing successful practices from other industries and applying them to the auto industry.

There are a lot of people (me included) who have spent virtually their entire career in the auto industry. Maybe you’ve done that too. There is a big risk when you’ve spent all your life in one industry – it can mean that all you know well are the common successful practices of just that one industry.

We have all benefited from learning at various industry events such as 20 groups, factory meetings, and conferences. However, by limiting yourself to to these events only, you will only understand how people in the auto industry sell, advertise, or promote. And, let’s face it, almost everyone in the auto industry markets, sells, advertises, and promotes pretty much the same way!

Dealers continue to just put out ads using digital, direct mail, email, TV, radio, and maybe the newspaper. Dealers do the same types of offers that appealed to car buyers before they relied on everyone else for research information.

When you limit your dealership to doing things the same way every other dealer does, you can only produce modest, incremental gains – at best. At worst, you could easily lose ground.

I continuously study and identify the fundamental principles that drive the successes in other industries. I’m always looking to pick and choose the most powerful, effective and state of the art breakthrough approaches that can be introduced to the auto industry. In upcoming articles, I’ll show you how to adapt those concepts to your own specific dealerships. With little effort on your part, we should be able to engineer stunning advances for your dealership and leave everyone else in the dust.

One example I continuously bring up is Amazon and Uber. They have benefited significantly from one thing: they make things in our lives like shopping or getting from point A to point B, faster and more convenient, and eliminate the hassle. Neither of these companies are known as the low price leader. There are a lot of consumers who spend more each month on Amazon than their monthly car payment! Companies like Amazon and Uber are training all of us on what to expect online.

Your dealership is not being judged or compared to other dealers online, it’s being compared to the experiences consumers prefer most like Amazon and Uber.

2. Differentiate yourself now or else

Why do people buy from you instead of your competitors? Do you really know the answer? If not, you either 1) offer car buyers a unique set of advantages or benefits, but you’ve never identified them yourself, or 2) you offer car buyers no unique advantage and you’re just lucky they chose you when they decided on which dealer showroom they would visit.

Any time your competition wants to offer your car buyers advantages you don’t, they can take those buyers away from you.

You must determine the most powerful benefit or advantage you can possibly offer a conquest or previous customer so it will be totally irrational for them to choose to do business with anyone but you or your company.

How can you do that? You identify what they want most and give it to them. You have to position your dealership as having a unique benefit they’re not getting from your competitors. And you don’t offer it to your clients subtly. You incorporate the fact that you are now offering them this unique advantage or benefit in everything you say and everything you do. When you do this, you clearly educate them so they see, appreciate and want to seize that advantage.

Today, you don’t just compete with other dealers for the car buyer’s attention. Most car buyers trust the manufacturer and 3rd-party sites over your own site. They rely on those sites before they ever make contact with you. So, you are also competing with these 3rd-party sites for time and attention – but more importantly – you are competing with them on influence. If most consumers use these sites to research their next vehicle, the odds are stacked against you that you will influence their decision at all. By the time most prospects communicate with you, they’ve already sold themselves on what they plan to buy and where.

So ask yourself better questions. Why do they go to these sites? What can we do to have conquest buyers and previous customers rely on us for more information before they sell themselves?

3. Don’t jump – without testing the water first.

There is a great story about what Henry Ford (I have no idea if it is true or not but it’s a good analogy for this article) would do before hiring anyone for an important position. He would have lunch with them. If the potential employee salted their food before tasting it, Mr. Ford wouldn’t hire the person. The reason? Salting the food before tasting it indicated the person would implement a plan before testing it.

Everyone knows the two rules to marketing 1)Test everything, and 2) See rule #1. This applies to all marketing and so much more. It’s simple and the payoff can be enormous.

The selling and marketing approach you’re currently using could be under-performing, delivering only a fraction what an alternative approach or strategy might yield.

Testing different variables in your advertising, websites, sales letters, sales offers, live sales presentations, guarantees, and pricing points can lead to significantly better results!

Increases of ten to twenty times can result just by changing from one approach to another. In other words, you might only be producing 20% of the results, sales, or profits you could be getting with the same or even less effort and cost. Until you start testing different responses and performance levels, you’re leaving massive potential on the table.

Not only could you be missing out on huge opportunities for growth but you can save yourself from disaster. There have been many ideas that I knew in my head were great. When I tested those “great ideas” against what I was currently doing or other ideas that initially did not seem so great… My great idea significantly under-performed. Not testing could have cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars – not to mention the lost market share.

4. Ask and you shall receive.

Most dealerships spend all of their time, effort and money on conventional marketing, advertising or new tools. You can take a fraction of that effort, and for a lot less expense, receive many times the results if you develop a formalized referral system. Now there are states that do not allow “bird dog” or “referral payments”. For dealers in those states you can be creative and still develop a legal and effective referral system.

A large portion of your new business probably comes from direct or indirect referrals right now. But you probably have never put a formal referral system into place. A formal referral system can generate an immediate increase in leads and sales. And it’s easy and inexpensive to implement it.

A referral-generated prospect normally closes at a higher percentage with higher grosses than most other leads you can get. And referrals are easy to get. Every time clients deal with you in person, through your sales staff, by marketing communication or by phone, diplomatically ask them for referrals. In a future article, I will focus specifically on referrals and explain how to set the stage with your customer and set up a formal process.

5. Win back lost customers.

It can cost you small fortune to acquire new business – AKA conquest car buyers – but it costs almost nothing to gain back a previous customer who defected from you.

Customers stop buying for three basic reasons:

1) They stop servicing temporarily because maybe there was a time when it was more convenient to go to an independent shop or competing dealer – and just never got around to dealing with you again. Out of sight, out of mind. A corny phrase, but very true. Once a customer stops dealing with you, no matter how valuable the product or service, they tend to fall into a different buying pattern.

2) The second reason people stop dealing with you is because they became dissatisfied. There are hundreds of reasons people become unhappy and stop doing business with a dealership. But the important thing to realize is that rarely did you intentionally offend or dissatisfy them.

3) The client’s situation has changed to the point they no longer can benefit from your product or service. They could have moved or their lifestyle has changed. This may seem like the end of the road with someone in this position. But that’s not the case. Even a former customer who may not be in a position to do business with you can be a great source of additional sales.

Eighty percent of all lost customers did not leave you for an irreparable reason, you can instantly take action and get a good percentage of those people back. But, you can’t do it using the same old school marketing that hasn’t brought them back up to this point or did not retain them to begin with. When they do come back, they tend to become one of your best, most frequent and loyal customers. They also turn into your best single source of referrals.

Great Expectations for 2019

Your greatest success and prosperity moving forward, will come from your ability to create your own breakthroughs. Over the next few weeks I will expand on these five tips and bring you inventive, new ways to generate innovative ideas, think more creatively and implement breakthroughs that can dramatically improve the results your previous approaches produced.

What should you expect to achieve with the information you’ll get? Simply put, you should expect to raise the bar and exceed your goals.