The Calm After the Storm
It’s finally December 37th, your last deal is in the books, and you have officially gone from hero to zero. The last rush of commercial deals and what comes with it has settled. For those of you who are new to this business, this is where the local business owners waited until the last week of the year, or in many cases, the last day of the year to pull the trigger on a large purchase to avoid paying as much in taxes. They have to get it into this year and generally like to finance as much as they can. This makes selling aftermarket products and service contracts that much easier.
“Just remember … there was calm before the storm … there will be calm after.”
Everyone is expecting you to live in their world, much more so than usual during this time of year. The salespeople are running around franticly trying to sell or pre-sell the limited amount of premium new car merchandise as possible. Dealer trades are happening so fast, you almost don’t know which car goes where. The F&I deal appointment calendar is filling up to the point where we have no more available spots, but the deals keep coming. The grosses are high, and the momentum is fierce. Everyone is making money and the customers are leaving happy. It’s fun again. This is why we love the car business.
Then the New Year comes. The excitement and the flurry of customers start to dwindle. The reality of limited or no inventory starts to set in. You realize if it weren’t for the employees parking in the back lot, it would appear we have even less inventory. Then the last few deals come together. People are spent. They are experiencing a bit of a financial hangover to say the least. They overspent on Christmas and are worn out from the holidays. They are watching the change of power politically and keeping a close eye on the stock market. People are unsettled, and quite frankly, anyone who was in the market for a vehicle who had any sense of urgency, already bought. In fact, we probably pulled ahead two to four weeks’ worth of business, to “get it in to this year” for tax reasons.
This is a time where salespeople, managers, F&I, and honestly the whole store starts to feel the lag. All the deals are billed. The funding screen in DealerTrack shows every deal is booked or funded. The e-leads have slowed, and the phones aren’t ringing as much. The walk-in showroom traffic is noticeably down. The high of a huge December is wearing off and the idea of a “bad month” starts to set in.
There is an old quote to remember: “Just remember … there was calm before the storm … there will be calm after.”
This is the time to be thankful for the big win last month. Take this time to focus the extra time on controllable activities. Start by cleaning your workspace or your office. Get rid of things that are no longer adding value to your work life or bringing joy to your space. Get all of your accounting in order. Finalize your year-end numbers and start setting goals for the upcoming year, both professionally and personally. Refill all of the empty folders in your office that need forms. Order more for your stock room so you are ready for the year. Fill up your printer with more paper and change your ink cartridges. Wipe down the dusty pictures. Disinfect your keyboard and mouse. Pre-sign some basic forms you will need on your next deal. Basically, spend the idle time prepping for the next “storm.” This will keep you focused on something positive and not allow your mind to focus on how slow it is.
It is all about keeping your attitude positive and your outlook bright. Doing incremental things daily will allow you to have the mental toughness to survive the calm after the storm. Go forth and profit!
Justin B Gasman is the financial service director, MPFS, at McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC, Inc. in Boulder, Colo.