Just WIN All the Time, It’s Fun!

Just WIN All the Time, It’s Fun!

To operate at your highest level of contribution requires that you deliberately tune in to what is important in the here and now.

Coach Larry Gelwix led Highland High School’s rugby team to 418 wins, 10 losses and 20 national championships over 36 years. When asked how he does it, he replies, “We always win.” Given his record, he has a right to say that, but what he is actually referring to is a mindset. A single question that encapsulates what he expects from his players in every moment: “What’s Important Now?”

Coach Gelwix asks his players to stay fully focused in the moment on what is important now. His players apply this question constantly throughout each game instead of getting caught up complaining about the last play that went horribly wrong, or spending any mental effort worrying about potentially losing the game. He encourages them to focus only on the play they are executing right now.

He believes that winning is largely determined by whether his players are focused on their own game or on their opponent’s game. If his players started thinking about the other team, they lose focus and start playing the way the other team is playing. They get distracted and divided. By focusing on their own game, they unite around a single and well-practiced strategy.

Universal truth: To operate at your highest level of contribution requires that you deliberately tune in to what is important in the here and now.

So, what’s important now in the car business? We had a red-hot streak for a couple of years there, but that seems to be over. What was important then is not important now and what is important now was probably not important then. When everyone and their mother was trapped in their homes and shopping for cars, that was a good time to be branching out with your marketing efforts to capture new customers and gain market share. But what about now, since no one is shopping? The reality that we must face now is that we put a lot of people in the ditch with our addendums and market adjustments. Those cars are not worth anywhere near what we sold them for during the good times. Suffice it to say that the money isn’t cheap or free anymore either. So a lot of the people who were habitually trading in their cars every three or four years literally can’t.

Inventory availability is not a problem anymore, we all have plenty of trucks and SUVs now. Our inventory has created a new problem now that buyers are scarce and the increased interest rates make for much tougher floor planning. The cars are piling up and dealers across the country are struggling to find the butts for the seats. So, what’s important now?

Overspending on marketing when no one is shopping seems bad. As times get more desperate, more dealers (and OEMs) overspend, which artificially increases the cost and limits the effectiveness of ads. I think smart dealers who are answering the WIN question correctly, are looking to their existing customer base. Seems to me that it’s a good time to be data mining and doing the hard sales work that no one had to do for a hot minute, due to the “chip shortage.”

Hopefully during the red-hot times, you took advantage of the situation by building a bigger and more loyal customer base. Dealers who resisted the urge to have sheep steaks for dinner can still go back and sheer all their favorites again. If you did honest business during the good times, then you can still thrive now during the tougher times with a little compassionate outreach. What’s important now? Survival.

The Fed signaled a lowering of interest rates in 2024. However, I wouldn’t bank on it, they tend to change their mind with the wind. Even if rates do come down a little, it’s going to be a long and slow road ahead. Dealers should make careful decisions and consider what has changed and what is important now.

Coach Gelwix puts it this way: “There is a difference between losing and being beaten. Being beaten means, they are better than you. They are faster, stronger and more talented. Losing, on the other hand, means that you lost focus on what was essential. In other words, you beat yourself.”

If you liked the rugby team story, it came from “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” a great book by Greg McKeown. And if you want more ideas to rejuvenate your business and increase your opportunities to sell cars, reach out to us. Do what you do, you got this. Cheers.

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