2023 is shaping up to be a more challenging year than 2022. Spending time on creating a professional development plan for yourself can make the difference in 2023 being a tough year, or a great year.

It’s 2023 — are you ready for the new year? The holidays are over, and with that comes the promise every new year brings. Hopefully, you have taken some time to set some S.M.A.R.T. personal and performance goals for the new year.

If you have, I have a question for you: do your goals for 2023 include creating a professional development plan to go along with those performance goals?

Performance goals focus on the end result, while a development plan focuses on the attainment of the skills, the knowledge and the strategies you will need to get there.

To create a professional development plan, you will need to begin with self-assessment. A professional development plan should be centered around things you can control or strongly influence, like your behaviors, skills, knowledge and process.

To begin, take another look at your goals. Objectively as possible, assess whether you have all the skills and knowledge you need to achieve them. A great question to ask yourself during the process of examining each goal is ‘Am I ready to achieve this goal, or do I just have the potential to achieve this goal?’

Self-assessment can be one of the more difficult steps in the process because it takes self-objectivity and involves evaluating yourself – honestly and fairly – to determine strengths and deficiencies as they apply to each goal. If after the self-assessment you believe you currently have all of the skills, knowledge, and a strategy to achieve the goal, it’s time to get started.

If not, you must determine what you need to attain or improve upon, to achieve the readiness needed to achieve that goal.

If you were to google the word readiness, you will get two definitions. First is the state of being prepared for something, and the second is a willingness to do something. Both apply to achieving a goal.

Let’s say for example one of your goals is to shave 10 minutes off your current delivery time in the F&I office.

You know that by accomplishing this goal you could gain the efficiency needed and possibly the extra time required for more impactful interactions with customers in the upcoming year. The goal may also support the overall dealership goal of shortening the sales process and it could go a long way to meet the customer’s expectations around time, and by doing so, lower resistance to the F&I process and open their minds to the products we offer. Worthy goal!

Now you will need to determine what your average delivery time is and where the 10 minutes will come from. It could be that you determine you will need to lengthen the time you spend on ‘Smart Discovery’ and in doing so, shorten your menu disclosure and time spent on closing. If so, now apply the self-assessment questions outlined above.

In this example, learning a telling menu disclosure to replace a selling disclosure will take some time, practice and coaching to make the change. Knowing this upfront will help you determine the time and focus needed for this part of your development plan as well as the timeline on realizing the results from implementing it.

As you begin the new year take some time to reexamine your goals in terms of readiness. I bet you will determine that you are ready to achieve some, and others … maybe not so much. Now look at the goals, in which you have determined that your readiness level isn’t where you want it to be. Most likely, these goals are the important ones that if achieved, will have the greatest impact on your career and your income. They usually are the kind of goals that will take the most planning and will involve the greatest effort to realize.

Many times, when F&I managers fail to achieve a performance goal, it is because they have focused only on the potential and possible result in achieving the goal and unfortunately their plan to achieve the goal hasn’t realistically assessed their readiness to do so. Don’t make that mistake.

2023 is shaping up to be a more challenging year than 2022. Spending time on creating a professional development plan for yourself can make the difference in 2023 being a tough year, or a great year.

John Tabar serves as executive director of training for Brown & Brown.

Originally posted on F&I and Showroom