What’s Stopping You from Your Best Busy Season?

Did you make any progress with your New Year’s Resolutions?

It’s healthy for your business and for your personal development to start the year with aspirations of what you want to accomplish: eat better, work out more, get better organized, implement the new Dealer Management Software, etc. These goals help you point yourself in the direction you want to go – and hopefully you’re sticking with some of them!

But as we get further into the year, it can be equally important to identify what barriers are keeping you from your best performance. What do you need to stop doing? This is especially critical as we prepare for summer.

Are there things that are taking your focus away from where it needs to be, sucking your energy, time or other resources? We are entering our busy season and every one of us in the marine industry have things within our control both personally and professionally that will make a tangible difference in our success.

There is a great adage: “Saying no allows you to say yes to the things that are most important.”

How good are you at saying no – to others and to yourself? This is a learned skill that needs to be practiced. There are two key elements:

  1. You have to identify when you are being presented with a choice that will take you in a direction you don’t need to go. It can seem easier or more polite to say yes or to just handle it; but recognize this is keeping you from your most important goals and objectives.
  2. You have to have guts and determination to defend your no and stand behind it.

It can be hard to say no to someone. Especially a customer or a beloved team member; and it can be hardest of all when you have to say no to yourself. What you like to do isn’t always aligned with the most important things you should be prioritizing.

Let’s start with some of the most common personal areas. Do you need to exercise better control on how much of your time you are investing in following news, market reports or social media? You can’t control what’s going on in the world at large and consuming too much of this will only put you in a funk. Of course, you need to know what’s going on, but chances are good you can stay reasonably well informed in considerably less time. Determine what that time amount is for you and stick with it. Chances are you’ll be a lot happier.

Having spent countless hours observing dealerships, there are certain pitfalls that can and should be avoided. Let’s look at some of them by job description.

Dealer Principals: Stop getting sucked into every customer and departmental issue. You are limiting your team’s ability to exercise empowerment. Dealers who give in to Type-A tendencies limit their dealerships’ growth potential. Practice letting go. Give your team the tools, the training and the opportunity, then step back. On occasion, you may need to coach them based on how things were handled, but encouraging them to get outside of their comfort zones allows them to grow. Don’t swoop in to save the day! Let them learn to be the hero.

On a recent dealer visit, I was impressed with a young dealer who was able to keep an eye on his team’s progress based on the tools and processes he’d put in place. He checked the CRM and texting platform hubs to ensure that leads and inquiries were being responded to quickly. He looked at the Open Sales and Open RO lists – and he did all of this from his phone or computer without hovering over anyone. In his morning meetings, he made it a point to praise the team members who were excelling. The growth that his dealership is experiencing is awe-inspiring. The best part is he’s raising young leaders and teaching them to use those same tools properly. He is able to go home to his family at a reasonable hour and not be a slave to his multiple dealerships.

Sales Professionals: Stop judging your customers. Treat everyone like they can buy the most expensive boat available. Practically every seasoned sales pro has a story of the customer they thought didn’t have a nickel to their name who wound up making a six-figure purchase. Be aware of the mind chatter going on in your head that is limiting your prospecting and ultimately your sales.

One more for sales is to stop setting the customer up for disappointment. Be sure to check with parts and sales before we set pricing, availability or delivery times. Remember, the best way to build customer loyalty is to work together as a team so the customer has a great experience in each department. The more they see that we get along, like each other and respect each other, the more they trust the entire dealership.

Service and Parts Managers: Stop keeping data from the team and stop running so much decision-making through you. The more the information on scheduling, dispatch, pricing, availability, etc. is held with one person, the more that person gets bombarded with questions all day, the less efficient we all are, and the more frustrated our team and our customers. Make as much information as possible (especially pertaining to workflow) easily, visibly available to everyone on the team. This helps porters, techs, advisors and sales deliver a better customer experience while increasing shop profitability.

Technicians, Detail and Lot Crew: Stop bottling up until you’re ready to boil over. If you see something that is hurting your job or the quality of the dealership’s product or work, get that information to the people who can do something about it. If you are not comfortable talking to them about it, send them an anonymous note “from a caring eye in the shop”! If you don’t say anything, it just grates on you, making you more and more frustrated. It might feel better to vent to your peers about it, but they can’t fix it, and it just leads to more shop drama.

That leads to two last ones for everyone at the dealership …

  1. Stop avoiding the tough decisions that need to be made. You know what they are. The things you’ve been putting off, things that make you want to change the subject when they come up. There’s a great saying: “Knock out the hard stuff first.” If you get that tough one handled once and for all, it will be so freeing for you. You will feel so much better and have so much more energy for the worthy goals that need all of your energy.
  2. Stop adding fuel or oxygen to the dealership drama. Chose the high road. Act towards others the way you’d like them to act towards you. If something needs to be said, say it to the person directly and with empathy.

What are the things you need to stop? What’s keeping you from bringing your best self to your highest priority goals?

There are going to be plenty of challenges outside of your control as you navigate the summer months. Don’t let yourself spend more minutes than are absolutely necessary on things that you can’t change or things that are not a priority. Hone your focus and pour all of your available resources on the things you can control that will move the needle in the direction you want it to go. Practice and develop your discipline in this, and you will put yourself and your dealership in the best possible position to make the most of this year.


Valerie Ziebron, president of VRZ Consulting, has spent more than two decades helping businesses “fire on all 8” through education and motivation. She makes it a point to uncover best practice “golden nuggets” that help people flip the switch from reactive to proactive for greater profitability and customer loyalty.

Through studying and comparing hundreds of dealerships across North America, VRZ Consulting specializes in what stores can do to maximize their resources, specifically their people, processes, space and location. Learn more at: http://www.vrzconsulting.com.