Nearly half of all new businesses fail within the first few years.  Not too encouraging, is it?  What sets apart those who succeed from those who don’t?  Well, there are several factors but some of the most important ones include having a plan, creating solid internal processes, hiring and retaining great employees and keeping your eye on the goal to generate profit and grow your business.

Even if you are a seasoned business or business owner, it might be time to reflect on your business plan.  A business plan is an important roadmap for a dealership’s success.  Make sure you and your team know what you are all about and where you are heading. Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”   That is true for your business.  Decide where you are going and where you want to go and then communicate that to your team – or who knows where you’ll end up!

So where do you start with your business plan? Here are 4 ideas to consider.

Dealership Overview Consider taking a few hours and step away from your dealership.  Include your spouse, your business partners and / or your managers – any key people in your store who have skin in the game.  Together, your goal is to create an overview of your business.  This is simply a snapshot of your dealership and highlights your goals. By doing this, you will outline key criteria that will help you make critical day-to-day decisions that will impact the future of your business.  This overview should include things such as:

  • What are your trying to accomplish as a dealership?
  • What are the key product lines & services you currently offer?
  • What are the core values that drive your business?
  • What are your goals and plans for the coming years?

Now move onto your Dealership Analysis.  This is a deeper look at the different elements of your business.

You might answer the following questions as if you were explaining who you are to a total stranger:

  • What is it that you do?
  • How do your products and services meet these needs?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your greatest weaknesses?
  • Who is your customer?
  • What are your competitive advantages?

A good exercise to conduct with your team is the SWOT analysis.  Put up on a white board four sections:  Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  Go section by section asking for input on what your dealership’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are.  Write down all the comments.   By doing this, you will uncover a list of many of the opportunities and challenges in front of you and help you to prioritize your top to-do items.

Your Marketing Strategy is another important piece of your business plan.

  • How are you going to reach your customers? Usually a combination of the following works some of the best for dealerships we consult with have been: state and country fairs, direct mail, your website, social media, local radio and tv spots and maybe even a local newspaper.  And, in some markets, dealers have success with marketing inserts.  Of course, this all depends on your market and your customers.
  • Remember, your marketing strategy must continue to change as your business grows and adapts to changes in the business world. Commit to being open-minded and flexible.

After you have developed a marketing strategy, you can then define how you are going to increase profits and sales.

For the sales side of things, your strategy should include:

  • Items for both your sales force and your sales activities.
  • What are your plans for helping your existing staff to improve in their selling skills?
  • Will you offer sales training or incorporate an incentive program?
  • For new hires, what will you do to assure you are getting the right people that can do the job AND be a great fit for your dealership?
  • What is your plan to generate new leads and build upon your current customer base?

For the profit component:

  • When is the last time you evaluated your price structure for labor, parts, wholegoods and services?
  • How can you and your managers better monitor your numbers and efficiencies in every department?
  • What are some ways you can grow your business, this year, and increase your profits?

I’m aware that right now does not seem like the time to step away from the business.  If you were on the phone with me, you’d probably tell me that time is the LAST thing you have available!

But remember, now is the time to be sure you are maximizing your resources and getting the most from the effort you are putting forth.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  Abraham Lincoln.

We hope that you will give us a call if we can assist you in any way.  It is our goal to assist you in achieving increased profits, success and efficiencies which allows you to better enjoy the journey called business and life.

The Dealer Development Team at Bob Clements Intl., Inc.