Saturday, May 2, 2009

It Can Be Hard To Change, But That's All There Is

I see some businesses that are struggling in a desperate way under the current economic climate. The problem is less the economy and more they are unwilling to change. What I mean by change is to change their methods, question their previous strategies, to have a willingness to find new ways, adopt new attitudes, change their business.

Business has always been cyclical. It sometimes dips much lower than it may have in the past and it may last longer, and if your business can flex and change with that, or better yet, even ahead of it, you can grow even in this economy. Many are. Think of a tree in the wind, how it bends with the wind, absorbs the impact and flexes. Even in a storm, the tree will adapt to the change. That's what I mean.

I'll pick an industry I am very familiar with: the automobile business. In normal times, salespeople at a dealership are waiting around for a customer to come in and there are normally a good number. Maybe they make a couple or so sales per week each and life is good. Talk to a salesperson about following up with their customers and keeping a database falls on deaf ears. Even the management team rejects it.

Then business declines. Up and down, we've seen it before. No big deal. But it keeps going down and stays down for a long time. Is it time to wake up and try a new way--a better way? Is it time to find new strategies and methods, so when business comes back they have more control? The answer I see with many is no. I'm serious. From the salespeople and the managers both, it's no. Yet I hear the complaints about how crappy sales are.

So, I walk into the store and the manager is in his office and the salespeople are sitting around and they are all waiting for someone to come in that wants to look at a car. All day long. It has got to be torture to come to work and do that every day. Not only boring, but completely non-productive. Same old strategy: run an ad, hope someone comes in. Only right now it is run less ads and hope people come in. Bad strategy.

It can be hard to change, but change is all there is. It's always time to change. For auto dealerships, the time is now. There is only now.

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