“Strike while the iron is hot.” This statement was first recorded in 1566 and refers to the blacksmith – he heated the metal so he could hammer it out and form it. Once it’s hot though, if he waits too long to shape the iron, the metal cools and hardens – and the opportunity is lost.
In a lot of ways, we’re in that same position in our industry. First, let’s go back six or seven years in the car business to when times were great and business was booming. Credit was free-flowing, anybody could get a loan and the great appreciation in real estate created those home equity lines that made buyers actually think they were paying cash for their cars.
Bad credit, negative equity, no money down – nothing really mattered because if you were breathing and had some sort of income, you could buy. And the best part was those 110-120% loans made enough extra money available to make a nice profit on every vehicle – even if customers were upside down.Complacency & Apathy
Complacency: Self-satisfaction to the point of unawareness of actual dangers. Apathy: A state of indifference.
In great times, when making really good money in sales is easy, do you develop good habits, or do you tend to take the easy way and develop some really bad habits? How about the reverse – when times get tough, do most people buckle down, put the pedal to the metal and develop good habits or bad habits?
After years and years of a great economy and easy credit, people became extremely complacent to the point of apathy. It was that, “I’m doing great, why bother working harder or smarter,” attitude. And then things changed. Most people had been riding the success roller coaster that had been heading up so for long, they’d never considered it might go down at some point. So what happened next?
Almost no one was financially or mentally prepared for a quick meltdown. Complacency and apathy disappeared overnight, and were replaced with fear, survival and urgency. Most people in sales hadn’t bothered to develop their skills – why bother, when they could sell cars in spite of themselves – so they weren’t able to make a fast turnaround. The ones who did make it through had a slow and painful recovery.
Most salespeople had been living month to month, knowing there would be more coming in again next month. That meant even more pain come rent time, grocery shopping and planning for Santa with the down turn.
Why am I telling you this? Do I see gloom and doom around the corner? Not at all. But I’ve watched dealers, managers and salespeople in our business go from complacency in sales just seven years ago, to fear and survival, then back to success through hard work. Now I’m seeing and hearing the same signs of complacency that I warned people about before the recession hit.
You have unlimited potential, especially now. Business is great, credit is flowing and there is a pent up demand for vehicles. Four of the next five people you talk to will be buying a car, and the average person reading this is letting three of those buyers walk away to buy down the street.
Don’t waste your opportunities. Strike now, while the iron is hot. Once it cools off, it’s a whole different ball game.