New year, new you! We’ve all heard that before – but as ever-changing and ever-increasing challenges continue to hit the automotive industry, it is critical that every agent take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I prepared?”

  • Prepared for the evolution of the industry as it shifts irrevocably away from internal combustion engines and brick-and-mortar dealerships?
  • Prepared for the evolution of F&I participation structures and products?
  • Prepared to become a subject matter expert able to bring solutions to dealers to retain and increase their business?

If the answer is not an absolutely solid yes to all these questions, you have some work to do. The key thing to address is your knowledge base. You’re busy, of course. We all are. Here’s an action plan you can start to implement today – and put yourself on the road to increased expertise, incomparable value as a consultant, and an earning curve that will keep going up year after year.

Ready, set, goal: Make an appointment with yourself to set concrete, measurable goals for 2022.

  • Write them in a notebook, draft a note on your phone, type up a Word document. However you choose to record your thoughts, it is critical to put pen to paper and get some solid ideas down. These will become your north star as the year progresses and challenges come at you from every angle.

Get smart: Feed your brain with new information every single day.

  • Set a daily reminder on your phone to stop, drop, and spend 10-15 minutes catching up on industry news. Read top headlines, stay current on trends, bookmark articles to explore more fully later, listen to podcasts or audiobooks while you’re driving to appointments. Strive to learn one new thing a day and put that knowledge in your arsenal to share with your clients.

Go pro: Professional development isn’t just for newbies.

  • Need to learn more about the different participation structures available to dealers? Need to improve your understanding of or get more up to date on tax compliance issues? There are plenty of resources available to you. Research trade associations, networking events, and online courses. Reach out directly to admins you trust and ask for guidance. Sharpening your subject matter expertise is a direct path to a win for everyone.

Be the change: This industry never stands still.

  • Dealers need solutions. If you’re not the one bringing them, someone else will step right in and do it for you. Start here: Identify your lowest-performing dealer and draft a few key recommendations to address their pain points. Strive to do this for every one of your clients eventually. The last thing you want is to have them hear about a winning solution from someone other than you.

Build resilience: It’s the most important muscle to develop.

  • If you’ve been in this industry for more than a year, you have already been through some incredible challenges. Did you just survive or did you thrive? Be ready to respond to any situation that arises with a flexible approach, a willingness to listen, the guts to take risks, and an attitude of gratitude every single day.

Shine online: Why waste the opportunity to connect with ease?

  • Amp up your social media presence by updating your LinkedIn profile, following industry thought leaders, expanding your network, and actively engaging with your connections. Not in the habit of posting regularly? Shoot for creating a new post, or at least sharing some content, once a week as a starting point. Demonstrating your smarts is never a waste of time.

Mirror success: There are incredible lessons to be learned from giants in every industry.

  • Too young to remember Jack Welch or Lee Iacocca? How about Steve Jobs? Or current disruptors like Bezos and Musk? Look back at the greats and keep current with today’s headline-makers. Read up on those who inspire you and pinpoint the lessons you can make actionable in your own work and life.

The key to unleashing your inner Super Agent is taking ownership of your success by putting in the work. Relying on surface knowledge, and repeating it back to others without a real understanding of what lies beneath, is a way to skate by that ultimately won’t get you to your real goals.

Once you become a true subject matter expert, you can serve as much more than a dime-a-dozen sales agent. Instead, you can become a powerful wealth consultant to your dealer clients and help them successfully navigate the inevitable challenges that lie in wait for us all.

Michael LaMotta is CEO of DOWC®, among the fastest-growing service contract providers and administrators in the U.S. A 2021 Dealers’ Choice Diamond Award winner, DOWC offers customizable F&I products and expertise in compliance, as well as a full suite of technology designed to optimize productivity and expedite claims adjustments, processing, and reporting.