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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the OLD and in with the NEW

Apex, NC... I was thinking this morning, and for me that is a dangerous behavior, that 2008 was a challenging 365. I am being so kind in that description. I learned so many new terms this year: contractions, bridge loans, bloated portfolios, reprieves, and hedge funds among so many others. But I still took a major risk in starting my own sales recruiting and training business two days after the mid-September financial tumble. Why did I do it? Easy. This is America. The only true land of opportunity is right here out my windows. I am opening a lot of doors and plan growth in 2009. And I "ain't" looking back. The only person I have to answer to is me. Taking care of my customers is my ticket to ride.

Growth? That is not a term we heard much in 2008. Google business and growth and you will be stunned how many businesses have blossomed. You do not contract and eliminate your way to success. You GROW to success. That is the definition of our business.

Look at every aspect of what you do and focus on GROWTH. 2009 is the year to really say, "Out with the old and in with the new!"

Happy New Year everyone!! May you grow in your success. 2009 will be just fine!

Happy selling!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Believe

Apex, NC... In the six inches of storage space between my ears, magic is about to happen. It's New Year's Believe. December 30th. I will lose the 20 pounds. I will earn a better living. I will exercise more. I will renew ties with all the people I have not talked to this year. I will clean the attic. Man, right now I firmly believe I will do all this and more. 2009 will be my avenue. I am so excited. Well, once 2009 is here, I can guarantee many of the believes will start to leave... Some of my resolutions become unresoluted. I have less odds to succeed in all my believes than my beloved Detroit Lions... It happened in 2008, and every year back. Dang it, it always happens.

I cannot improve everything because of one major factor... I am human.

Here is what I can do though. This is the easy stuff. I can smile when I see you. I can make you laugh. I can enjoy each day as if it is my last. I can be kind to friend and stranger. I can give honest feedback. I can focus on others and help them become better.

And most importantly, everytime I am in contact with someone; by e-mail, SMS, phone and face-to-face, I will walk away from the interaction with BOTH of us better people.

That is a New Year's Believe that will happen...

Happy selling!

Monday, December 29, 2008

This is for YOU BUD

Apex, NC...Every single day at 3 p.m., near St. Louis, the 15 Budweiser breweries across the United States send samples to the central brew master. He samples each one and makes the corrections necessary to ensure consistency in what has always been called the King of Beers.

In sales, royalty also comes from consistency.

I was never the top car salesperson every month. I never hit 30 cars in a 30 day period. But in a Mall with 75 salespeople, I was always very consistent. I sold a car every other day. My commission was consistent. I always had a blend of new customers, owners, and referrals each month. I always was at 15-16 sales every month regardless of the time of year. Mostly, good for number two, in sales; once in awhile I would be number one, but that was never my focus. My focus was to take care of my customers and get me another new one every chance I got. The byproduct of what I did was the numbers. You can do the same thing regardless of economic factor. Simply refuse to participate in the downturn. If you have a customer in front of you, the economy is GOOD.

Make a good beer, at a good price and you are the best beer in the world. Give your customers a good experience, consistent in value , and you are a top professional.
This ain't rocket science. Be consistent, define what you do, and follow your daily plan.

Happy selling! Finish the week strong!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Less Glow Car Show

APEX, NC... Things change so quickly in the car business. This past January, the Detroit Auto Show's economic impact on Detroit was a staggering $450 million. This January, not so much. The fashion parties, the hospitality areas, the beer hall fire house are all scaled back. Nissan will not there, although the local dealers will put vehicles on the floor space. Crazy times. As a former regular at the Show, the only non-fun was finding a parking spot close enough so I would not freeze to death before I got there. A spot that was not filled by a snow bank or two. The glitz and the hype matched the gorgeous models (I mean the cars!). I am too far away this year to attend, but my guess it will be very much toned down.
It is still the best car show in the world. The media comes in January 11 and should roll up some kind of bar and munchie tab that will help the local economy.
But things do change. Last year at this time AIG was at the top of its game. XM and Sirius were competitors, and Land Rovers were Fords...
What will the business be like in late December 2009? No one on this planet has a clue. The one certainty we have is that FAILURE is not an option.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Perception is my Reality

12-23, Apex, NC: Toyota President Watanabe describes our "tough times" as faster, wider, and deeper than he expected. I agree with that perception. But it is the yen that is causing profits to drop and who wants a Prius at $1.70 a gallon. Americans do not want small cars. They want cars with good gas mileage. Toyota's losses are based on reaction. People have stopped buying. People who have seen their friends lose jobs and are not about to rack up the credit debt, even at Christmas.

A huge company recently froze everything in operations and cut pay. Why? They are off 5% from 2007, which for them was a record year. Again reaction. Good and bad will come out in times of uncertainty. If you have a job, do it well. If you need a job, find one. Unemployment is not growth.

Weathering the downturn is what we have to do.

Please enjoy all the f's this Holiday Season: food, fun, family, friendship and football. Be kind to neighbor and stranger.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas. I will talk to you after Christmas!!

Happy selling!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A- Game Installation

Being at your best every day is not complicated. You must take care of yourself physically. You cannot have a six pack of beer and a pizza every night and be on your A game.

Mentally here is how to maximize opportunity, especially if you sell for a living.

1. Come to work to work; socialize later.
2. Have a plan. Goals are essential.
3. Know your inventory, on the ground and what's coming in.
4. Be there to help and serve. The customer notices stuff like that.
5. Listen with no distractions. Be very active, have eye contact, and lean into the conversation.
6. Never have anything less than a POSITIVE attitude. Anything else is mentally unacceptable.

People buy from smiling, listening, organized, energetic, and knowledgeable individuals.

Happy selling!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

People Who Need People

12-21, Apex NC- I have been thinking. And that sometimes is dangerous for me but I still do it. If many serving in Congress are old enough to be PEO's parents (President-Elect Obama), who insures their legacy retirement benefits? Oh yeah... Those bennies will never be in jeopardy...

There is an African proverb thast states something like this, that no one can truly be a person unless they are with other people. That is what this blog is all about. Here is a story to back us up.

Ross Perot told this parable in a speech moons ago. Although paraphrased big time here is is a great story.

Henry Ford had two best friends, Harvey Firestone and Thomas Edison. Edison was much older than Henry but Mr.Ford always tapped him for ideas. One day Henry rings Tom up on the telephone and has him rush over to the Ford Factory Building. With his arm around Mr. Edison, Mr. Ford points over to six big guys, loaded down with tool belts. They are working hard assembling a car. Slowly they finish one area and when done they move to another. Each to his own; never missing a beat. Henry is like a proud father. "Well, Tom what do you think?' Tom, probably the smartest man ever on earth, says this to Mr. Ford... "Henry, have you thought of having the car move and the workers standing still?

Yes Mr.Ford gets all the credit for the first assembly line, but remember that African proverb?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The One Constant

12-20 Apex, NC- Way back in the olden days, and for the car business that was June, things were changing in fast order. The one constant, the force that affects the entire Automotive Industry, is leadership. Leadership is many things. It is selfish. It is caring. And it is anything in between.

I taught at Michigan in the late 1990's. Organizational Communication was the class and each week, 16 of them, there was a singular topic discussion that eventually over the weeks blended into others to give the students a real sense of business as a living organism.

Leadership was probably the most interesting of all the weekly ingredients. Here is my definition of leadership. Leadership is the ability to move a systems-focused agenda forward in a positive, partnering, and enthusiastic way. Most importantly, it is as human as it is flawed.

Systems- focus allows you to assess all the parts of the organization and lead that array of parts as a whole. It helps but does not prevent flaws. As the leadership of our business and our industry you need your team to have your back. Your example over the next quarter will make or break what we need to accomplish. But remember that leadership, no matter your favorite definition, is only as good as you are...

Happy selling!

Friday, December 19, 2008

THE DAY HAS COME

12-19 Apex NC- The President came through this morning preventing a total collapse of the auto industry, thus preventing about a million people from the unemployment lines. By 3-31, the Big Three have to develop a plan to be competitive. I still believe that if and when, and it is just a matter of time, that customers go back to the dealership showrooms, things will brighten for Detroit.

These next two weeks are critical for retail car sales. Traditionally, it is the biggest half-month of the year. I always had a good December when I sold cars and I usually doubled my numbers about now. If I was at eight at this point of the month, I could usually count on 16 by New Year's Eve. There are two full weekends left in the month, and 12 selling days. It is tough work selling cars, but the hours are worth it this time of year.

Usually the 4th quarter and December are solid retail opportunities. But things ain't usual. If you are a sales pro, know your inventory, talk to five people TODAY, and work with a plan. There is always an unlimited amount of money outside the showroom door and an unlimited amount of customers. Get out there... Failure is not an option. It is not in written into the bridge loan.

Happy selling!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SPIN CYCLE

12-18, APEX NC- You just have to love the 24 hour news cycle. FOX News for example, has a constant crawl on the screen bottom with text news that runs like a river all the time... complete with misspellings. And FOX now features three small stacked "activity"screens with current stories going on. All three are stacked like pancakes on a full third of the screen. Sometimes there is so much going on visually that you can barely see the actual broadcast. It can drive you batty and strain both eyeballs.

So it should come as no surprise that just as the election coverage was beaten to death, so is the recession and the car business. It is 24/7/365... Too much news coverage ABOUT ANYTHING makes people nervous. Nerves push emotion. Emotion pushes consumer confidence. And that confidence affects the economy. That is why the stock market is such a super ball, bouncing everywhere and why gasoline has fallen so far and so fast. Confidence also affects CONSUMPTION of everything. Even OPEC is powerless against a non-buying public. Oil is around $38. Remember demand is LOUSY for everything but the basics right now. Go figure.

In something I have never seen in my life, many local dealership competitors have come together on the radio in the Raleigh market to tell people in a collective voice... "We have credit for you." The strange bedfellows thing is very interesting. But until the public buys again, cuts and contraction will continue.

We need to grow, grow, grow and often as we HO HO HO this Christmas Season.

P.S. You have got to feel for Detroit. Constant bad news and now the current weather forecast, 6-10 inches of snow and well below freezing temperatures tonight. Well, at least they have the Lions. Seriously, the Lions will beat the Saints Sunday by a T.D.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cash that's Fit to Print!

The Fed is printing $$$ at near 0%. The banks, and every other money lender will benefit. Hopefully we can get people to buy stuff other than groceries and presents. I talked to some stores in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Kansas City yesterday. Ten grand used cars are selling but the new cars sales are down more than 50%... At least the dealerships are back at the auctions.

Meanwhile George W. is still deciding the fate of the Big Three. Note the biggest obstacles for the President are the Southern Republican Governors. These states have a lot at stake when or if Chapter 11 ever happens. Note when the southern states think Motor City, it is Seoul, Stuttgart and Tokyo... We do not have to be Columbo to figure out who the suspects are... Mr. Bush will do the right thing... he ducks and weaves with the best throwers in the game.

At least in our country we have choices and free speech. But come on, all during this politico bureaucratic inertia balder dash.... the economy suffers worse. My main job in early 2009 will be to install confidence and positive focus to retail sales communities. It is all about attitude.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Automotive GOOD NEWS The New F-150

When the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant recently launched the new F-150, I knew there stood a good chance the Company would benefit. Today, Motor Trend announced its most recent 2009 Truck of the Year. Yep, you guessed it, the F-150. According to Ford, the critical decision to invest $148 million in Dearborn for the new tooling and equipment, will pay off big time. In Kansas City, Ford invested $110 million to build the new F-150. The new truck is worth every dime.

A cool derivative truck, the Raptor, is coming as well... Get in line for the all new 2010 F-150 SVT. Rolling on BF Goodrich All-Terrain TA/KO 315/70-17 tires, it will off-road like a HUMMER and be seven inches wider than the conventional F-150. (Ford World).

Check it out at www.pickuptrucks.com

Monday, December 15, 2008

Waiting in the Center Lane

Have you ever waited in a long line, not even seeing the front; or have you ever been in a traffic jam and at the right angle you see miles and miles of stopped traffic in front of you? That is what is going on right this moment with George W. and the TARP $$... Waiting and going nowhere. The car business is inching along... brake light after brake light... an occasional cop car roaring down the median, but you lose the siren and the lights very quickly, the source of the stoppage is way too far away.

Meanwhile, all my buddies are calling potential customers from a near empty showroom. Let's CLEAR the accident so we can all head in one direction... to work. Al least Congress is off on the side of the road... that is a positive.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

If You Want Perfection Look Up

I have to tell you that I erred a few blogs back. I initially did not support bail out money for Chrysler, which operates as an LLC, a private company. I had figured at the time that Carlos Ghosn would buy Chrysler very quickly so that Nissan/Renault would have Jeep and a solid truck lineup in this country. Still seems like a possible win win with Chrysler gaining business in Europe and Japan, and Nissan/Renault becoming much stronger as well. Now Chrysler needs the bail out bad; there has been too much quiet out of Carlos. Interestingly, tomorrow the Nissan/Renault CEO meets with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and Christian Streiff, top boss at PSA Peugeot Citroen. Maybe a possibility still for Chrysler. I insist it is a good fit.

Give both Chrysler and GM the money into the second quarter 2009; Ford will be OK. But they too should have an available amount of credit just in case.

It just is the right thing to do...

The Arsenal of Democracy

Detroit has taken tons of hits this year... The Tigers fell to last place. The Lions are win-less just days before Christmas. There is a cold snow on the ground. And the Chief Executives of the Big Three sat truly humbled in front of Congress asking for a bail out consideration. But politics are still holding the $15 billion purse string.

Why not $30 billion? No one has mentioned this figure. But between 1942-1945, Detroit produced $30 billion worth of military equipment that truly won WWII. FDR called Detroit "the Great Arsenal of Democracy". He was correct. At the Ford Willow Run Plant alone, the #3 assembly line was producing one B24 Liberator Bomber an hour. Each bomber contained 100,000 parts. WOW. Built in AMERICA meant something then.

2008 is not the only time when the Automotive Industry, Labor and Politics crossed paths for purpose . And America is indeed in a war. What if we ever need Detroit again to convert cars to weapons?

Just remember, we need DETROIT. BUY AMERICAN.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Lovely Weather for a Car Ride Together with You!

Dealerships across the country are singing this song. In North Carolina, my state of residence, there are 695 dealers and 33,000 employees (NADA NC). Man that is a lot of property and payroll. Car dealerships sustain credit unions, donut shops, gas stations, fast food places, multiple charities, and caterers. They contribute big time to the tax base of every one of the communities they are established in.

I have a message for all the commentators on FOX, CNN and MSNBC and all the reporters on the radio and in the papers who do not have the election to chew on anymore. Unless you have been in the business, don't comment on or against our behalf. Just as no man knows what it is like to give birth, no reporter out there knows what the business is like... It is all about the experience. Your comments have only made things worse. Unlike the Wall Street scenario with a complicated plot and rich guys in Brooks Brothers outfits, the car situation is easier for the public to follow and be influenced. And this fuels the fire.

I give kudos to the President. He might be more driven by additional unemployment numbers showing up on his watch if the bridge loan process fails than by the survival of the car business, but political or not, this will carry the domestic manufacturers into 2009.

Things will get better. And maybe some day I can return to being the retail sales trainer and recruiter I make my living doing. But right now I am all PRO- CAR BUSINESS.

I say BUY AMERICAN this CHRISTMAS. No matter the product... If it does not say "MADE IN BLANK", it is made in the good ole USA.

Be proud and be LOUD. Your brothers and sisters in the Auto Industry need you. Call your Senator and your Representative. And remember, Santa's sleigh is USA...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bout Time

Well, it looks as though George W. will come through with the bridge loan. Now let's get back to work...

What is Congress Thinkin?

Our current economic crisis has taken many victims. In fact, too many victims. With relatively few exceptions, I do not know many people still working in Michigan. The facts are these... General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have all restructured. If you do not believe just google the changes in labor relations, suppliers, dealers, product innovation, and fuel economy. All three companies were heading to profitability when the global economic and credit crisis killed people coming into the showroom. People are thinking, "I cannot buy a car right now because..."

If you do not put anything in the fridge, eventually when you open the boor all you have left is the Arm and Hammer. If your outlay exceeds your income, you eventually dry up financially; and since I mentioned the fridge, wait until the food chain dies. Bankruptcy breeds bankruptcy.

Our GDP will be toast. Consumer confidence vanishes. And everyone with stash under their mattress will carry pillows with coins and dollars... Credit goes bye-bye. Wall Street becomes small street. And Main Street becomes mean street. It will get ugly.

I have over three decades in the car business. It is a very cool industry. It gave us mass transit and created the middle class. Yes, cars created our middle class. Call your Congress Rep and Senator NOW and help fix this.

Grow is the opposite of slow... If you need a car go buy one. Kick start the economy. Trust me the car business is dieing to get you to buy. Literally...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Voice of the Mountains

Hi everybody,

We are waiting for the Mountain to speak... The one on the big Hill, the Senate. Will GM and Chrysler get the bridge loan they must have to stay competitive in the waning moments of the 4th Quarter through the 1st Quarter 2009? As a small business tied to the car industry I hope so. Here is an interesting scenario about the American Public... Since mid-September, fueled by the craziness of the election, the media, and the fiscal spiral, people have stopped spending. Sure they buy gas and food. And yes they are buying for Christmas albeit less than probably ever, but HABITS do not change. Once the emotion shifts to positive, and much of what the stock market is still doing is driven by as much emotion as speculation, people will return to their pre-September buying. If you have been holding off buying a dryer or a car, once Mr. Obama takes office, you will buy the dryer or the car. The cool thing about humans is that we are human...
It is all cyclical... A little confidence will make 2009 much better than 2008.

On New Year's Eve, do not party like its 1929!!! It is 2009!!! Head into the new year with a positive focus...

Jim

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Going Down Under

Going down under always meant a visit to Australia; O.K., maybe even Outback... But this week the central slant is the domestic auto industry. If you are a true blue car person, the failure of the Big Three is unacceptable. I am not telling the American public that they cannot walk into a Hyundai or Honda store and look at product. But give the domestic industry a chance. Do not let them go under. Do your homework and you will see the domestic cars are high quality and very low recall. They are great transportation. I recommend you look at trading soon...

And yes you will get financing and that good deal. remember I can help you in the deal; drop me an e-mail... jim.vogel@vtrconsulting.com Jump start the economy and get a new car for a present!!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bridge to Somewhere

Good morning! I want to catch you up on the car business... D.C. style. It looks as though the Detroit (Big) Three will get a bridge loan. The most interesting aspect of this whole scenario is that the Congress is in charge of it. One thing about politicians, they are not business people and they are not economists. What they are I will leave to you.

The car business employs primarily and secondarily millions of people. It is a huge hunk of the GNP. It buys fuel, plastics, steel, and hardware and software. TONS of it.

Again, if you are anywhere near considering buying a car... do it now. I have never seen dealerships doing this much " river dancing" to move metal. Call me if you need me...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Plastic or Paper?

In D.C. this week each Big Three member, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors are all holding different bags. GM is the most shocking of the three. A company since 1908 is on the edge. Chrysler LLC needs to merge with Nissan/Renault and should get zip in the form of a bridge loan. It is a private company for gosh sake. An LLC, just like my company VTR Consulting LLC. I too am in the car business; I too have a business that has cooled down, but I am not getting a dime from Congress. Fair is fair. Ford is in the best shape having mortgaged their corporate fanny including their famous blue oval a couple of years ago. Their plan, to ask for a bridge loan that they will only tap in necessity, is a sound one.

Things will get better. NOW is the time to buy, whether it is Detroit metal or not. And I can help you with questions and I can get you a good deal if you want one. Just do as I suggest when you e-mail me. Go to www.vtrconsulting.com and click on my virtual office icon.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Visit Me

I have added a link to make it easier to contact me. Please enjoy all my sales commentary. Remember the key to the economy is the sales process. When salespeople have customers in front of them the economy is good.

Jim

Visit my expert profile

Is There Room in the Doom and Gloom?

I have to tell you that I am needing therapy this morning. How is it that the media can take the news and make it worse? Since the election they have been on a negative bender. The key is to not react emotionally. Keep doing what you need to do. Remember that sales drive the economy NOT emotion. The key to capitalism is growth, even if it is slow... no one scrimps, saves, and cuts their way out of the current economic situation. My household is like all of yours. Times are on the tough side, but everything is cyclical. It will get better.

So go to the store today or get online and buy something! GROW is the word of the day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sales or Fails

I am your sales therapist and you need sales therapy. The automotive buying and selling business can be as satisfying as it is frustrating. Many salespeople are untrained and many customers are uneducated, or worse... full of disinformation not information. That is a fails in sales combination that often leads to no sale at all... Come on, it "ain't" rocket science, brain surgery or Rhodes Scholarship candidacy. It is about right; the right time, the right vehicle, the right price, the right place, the right opportunity. Poorly trained salespeople can turn a buyer into a liar, trier, fly-er, sigh-er, crier, and eventually into a die-er, if they do not give the customers enough reasons to buy, yep... the customer leaves. Worse, the customer is often at fault as well. Customers walk into the dealership on the defense, expecting the worse... and guess what happens with that mindset. Chill!!! What you need is therapy!

Find me at www.vtrconsulting.com

I can answer your questions in my virtual office as well. Hit the icon on my VTR site for www.liveperson.com

Let me help you get a good car deal and let me help you in the sales process. I am a proponent for you!

In the business I am known as Mr. Friendly. Happiness is key!