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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Idle Thoughts- Believe It Or Not

6-30-09 Apex, NC

It is the end of the month and the end of the quarter. I should be in a dealership helping out but I am not...

Only in the South; Carpenters working on a house, cutting wood outside in the driveway, wearing flip flops.

People are getting the flu. Isn't July like tomorrow?

I got a letter from the IRS this week. And it was a nice helpful letter concerning some tax changes with my business.

The First Lady wore a pair of Lanvin's $588.00 tennis shoes at the Capital Food Bank April 29th.

Although every politician elected in November PROMISED no new taxes, guess what is about to happen?

With all the famous people passing in the last week, I am asking myself who is next?

Have you checked out the snack food aisle lately? The BIG FAMILY SIZE bag of chips is now full of air at a whopping 11 ounces total weight.

I am still surprised there is still a dozen eggs in a dozen eggs.

If it doesn't rain soon, Governor Perdue will be doing drought commercials. I hope Mother Nature spares us soon.

Mrs. Easley will fight her NC State firing. Huh?

The brand new McDonald's in Cary is 100% green. And it cost a ton of green to build it.

Bernie Madoff got 150 years. Is that all?

The NY Times recently raised prices: two bucks for the daily and SIX bucks for the printed Sunday paper. Who said Liberals didn't love capitalism?

Check me out at www.vtrconsulting.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

The New Normal

I just love all the new terms that have found a place in our language. The lexicon is now filled with new terms that in better economic times would never be on the tip of our tongue. Things like “short sell’, “deficit-neutral”, “bubble”, “derivative” and “speculator” to mind. The best one of all to hit the media is what ABC News is calling “The New Normal”. This New Normal is the lifestyle change we have all faced since the total collapse of the economic system back in October, 2008. It was not that long ago that credit was easy, gas was cheap, and people drove SUVs without the guilt trip. That’s not normal anymore.
Interesting that phrases and sayings that were popular in the Great Depression and in earlier tough times have resurfaced with a kind of poetic vengeance.
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“Better be on the safe side.”
“You bet your bottom dollar.”

These Great Depression phrases reflect the unemployed in the 1930’s when 25% of our workforce was standing in soup lines. We are nowhere near that situation today. But the times, they are indeed changing. We clip coupons. We group trip, doing several errands at once. We go nowhere on staycations. We pack a brown bag lunch. We now have a garden with tomatoes and cucumbers. We browse the thrift stores and purchase our books on used sites. Many of us are taking on a second income to pay bills. We dry clean less and we take our shoes to be re-heeled. If we buy a car, we look at pre-owned vehicles as well as new. We go to restaurants with less frequency. And when we eat out, it is often out of the pantry.
Times have changed with lightening speed. We are indeed deep into the New Normal. For small and medium businesses, it has made us more focused on customer service. Businesses now “bundle” products and sell these packages at eye-catching prices to attract the wiser and more frugal customer. We constantly sharpen our business plan to attract customers who are not in our typical demographic. We are in a continuous state of re-invention.
But think about this. The New Normal is the best thing to happen to us in decades and with it all of our bad habits are slowly being erased. We in the Triangle were the last region in the country to be pulled into the economic downturn. We will be the first out of it as well. Already we are seeing signs of growth in many sectors.
But one thing is certain. We will be the “More Generation” in the New Normal. We will save more and we will recycle more. We will be more diligent with our habits and practices, and will spend more time with our new business focus and with our families. In these situations, more is the best strategy when all we hear is less. You know what? The New Normal might not be so bad after all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rudy's Pub and Grill

Rudy’s Pub and Grill
6-24-09 Apex, NC
Common sense tells us that things have changed a ton over the past few years in most aspects of our daily lives. One thing that has always been hard to come by in any community is a neighborhood establishment that has awesome bar food and great service. If you couple these critical ingredients with a fun atmosphere to match, you have something BEYOND special. Not every town is blessed with such a place. Well, we are extremely lucky in the Peak City because Apex NC finally has one we can truly brag about. Rudy’s Pub and Grill is that and more.
I’m talking real bar food. I mean REAL BAR FOOD. The delicious appetizers will feed two. The cheeseburgers are juicy. The fresh salads are simply huge. And the wings belong on everyone’s plate. It should be a city ordinance. They are that good. Colonel Harland Sanders has visited just to take notes. Me? I use Rudy’s for business lunches. How about $3.99 mid-day meals served by a top quality staff? At that price you usually get a bag handed to you at the drive through.
And there is more. The margaritas are so good they should be the national drink of North Carolina and the beer specials quench your thirst and don’t squash your wallet.
On the nice days you can sit outside to socialize, and on those not so nice days, you can saddle up to the bar and daydream that you are finally home. One thing is for sure, in good times and in bad, great bar food can be had. Come join me anytime. I am the guy eating wings and sipping on a cold one. Common sense tells me one thing is not going to change. Great food, great fun and great prices are all close by.
I am a member of Rudy’s Nation of Apex. And I am a die-hard fan. I am heading right now to Rudy’s where things never change, they just get better. Happy eating!
919 303 5061 Rudy's is near the Harris Teeter in the Haddon Hall Commons.

Jim Vogel
www.vtrconsulting.com
Apex, NC

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Idle Thoughts Are Back

6-17-09... Apex, NC

I went on a website recently that features a "Customer Experience Manager". Every business should have a person focused on the experience. Common sense.

Virtually every time I gas up and click to a round number, the pump always adds a dang penny. Instead of $22.00 it ends up being $22.01. We don't think about it but man, it adds up to profits big time.

Here is the power of Twitter. In Iran, it is the only conduit to the world after the election.

In baseball, most teams have the daffiest away jerseys. The uniforms look like pajamas. At least the Tigers and Yankees look good home and away.

Now that GM sold Saab, looks like they have no more Saab stories to share.

People are calling me and asking me if this is a good time to buy a car. YES! It also is a great time to buy anything. Notice the price of a 40" T.V.?

The President talks of deficit-neutral policies. I thought we were two trillion in the whole. I do love the term deficit-neutral. I think that is on my credit report.

David Letterman, he is a mess. How can you mess up an apology?

Everybody today in my business is an alleged social media expert. Really now?

Had my first teaching gig at the University of Phoenix last night. It is refreshing to see students who actually want to go to college. Success comes in so many categories.

Yesterday morning it poured so hard that Noah was building an ark on 64.

NC St. is an acronym for no comment; see taxpayer.

Two things no one can take away from you, your education and your purpose in life.

You know your favorite website has made it. You use it as a verb. So Facebook me!

Count your breath, your luck, and your cholesterol.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weapons of Mess Disruption

Apex, NC 6-14-09.

Here it is, the last two weeks of the first quarter. July is coming fast. Yes I know times are tough. Gas prices are up. Dealerships are more than challenged with day- to- day issues, so many things coming and going. Lost your focus yet? Think about it.

If you are not 100% mentally present at work, completely focused on your job, you will lose buyers. People buy vehicles every day regardless of the economy and they are not at your store for the fresh coffee and neat small talk you provide. If you mess things up and do not focus on their needs, they will leave. The customer’s weapons of mess disruption are two-fold, their feet. If they leave, you only have you to blame. When you stand there and the manager does all the work, and you just hand the customer the keys, you get the number and the full commission, all of it. So when there is mess disruption happening and the customer walks, run to the mirror. It is all yours too. You can only blame yourself when the customer purchases down the street. You simply did not do your job.

So, Meet and Greet with enthusiasm and excitement. Bring your customers inside and help choose the correct vehicle, the one they want and they need. You must have both ingredients. Mentally close them before you do any paperwork or talk numbers. I do not care how long it takes. And ASK for the sale. The customer always appreciates a professional. They probably did not buy their last vehicle from one.

Work hard. Have fun. And stay focused.

Be a salesperson not a fails person. You have just one shot and one opportunity, so keep focused, follow your process, and do your job.

When there is a turn signal, a right turn, and happy customers, you can head back into the showroom with a big smile. Now go get another one!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Be A Career Entrepreneur

Apex, NC... 6-11-09

Everyone has ideas. Our brains work 24-7-365. But getting those ideas to evolve into action that results in success is one tough cookie!

Think out of the box, the car, near the fridge, at your friend's house; it is critical to think out your plan.

A Career Entrepreneur takes ideas, creates action, and makes results. It is up to you. You are the only one who truly gives a dang about your success. You are your own brand. You are the business. Finding opportunities in a challenging economy is critical. If you have an idea, WRITE IT DOWN. I do not care if it is at 3 a.m. A lost idea is useless. You will act on a written idea much faster than one that is rolling around in your skull.

Failure is the avenue for the implementation of ideas. Yep. You have to fail to succeed. What? You are reading it right. I want you to screw up. Success is never easy. My hero is Thomas Edison. Did you know that Edison failed more than you have? He messed up some big stuff. But he was persistent and LEARNED from the error of his ways. If not for Mr. Edison, your quality of life would be way different... Movies would not exist for gosh sakes.

If you are reading this you are in transition. So put that personal business plan together immediately. Be a career entrepreneur even while sleeping, and fail, fail, fail your way to success!

I have.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do You Believe In Magic?

6-9-09 Apex, NC

Well, when you think about it, some of us believe in magic and some of us don’t. Right now the NBA Finals are under way, and the announcers are discussing what team has had a “magical” season, or what team might be the Cinderella story in 2009. Magical is a very interesting word. But when you think about it, the magic in our career might be in the planning and in the technique.

Opportunities come along every day that could be magical if we just realized they were happening. Being ready every day helps our focus. Is it magical to sell seven cars in a week? Is it magic to be in the right place at the right time? Maybe, just maybe, there might be magic in the ingredients of preparation.

Magic could be as easy as specific technique and situation. Think about it. Come to work and have a plan for the day. Know your inventory, spend 20 minutes every morning assessing what is new, what is hot, and what would be a great solution to a current customer’s transportation problem. Make the most of every prospect. Sometimes a simple turnover (T.O.) will change someone leaving into a customer who ends up buying. Follow up and follow through. Let everyone know that you are there for them. A positive call of thanks to your last customer will go a long way. Work deals in your head, and most importantly on paper. Jotting what went right or wrong in a deal after it is finished is critical. These trends, documented over time, will get you better. The more time you put into this job, the better you will be. When you stop and think about it for a moment, it just might not be magical to be the best in this business, it might be a matter of process and effort. Remember that a successful career can happen, if you do the right things. There is simply only just a little magic in being a pro!

Happy selling! Be a salesperson not a fails person!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No End To The Beginning

Detroit, MI... 6-3-09

I am in the midst of a very unsettling work climate here in Southeast Michigan. Being in Detroit this week where there is a very high unemployment rate is very tough. What are the people doing who have lost their jobs? I can tell you this. The successful ones are in continual re-invention.

Let's get positive. The Triangle is in relatively decent shape. People still move to our region every single day. If you are looking for work, you must sharpen your skills. Your resume must be specific and it must be different. If you are working, you must sharpen your skills and you must keep your resume updated.

Yes, it is the same whether you are in a job or if you are looking for one. There is no end to self-improvement, critical thinking and blatant optimism. If you are employed look for greater success everyday. Are you really in your dream job? Remember people in careers today move several times into different work avenues. If you are out of work, put your plan together, define your goals and set objectives. Connect with one person a day. I call it the vitamin rule... ONE A DAY...

Success is never easy but it is indeed possible.

Good luck!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Requiem for a Heavyweight

Flint, MI… 6-01-09
When Dinah Shore sang “See the USA in a Chevrolet”, GM was rolling solidly on all four wheels; over 600,000 were employed globally, and they had a fat 51% market share. Now, GM stock is the price of a newspaper and soon to go away, market share is 21%, and when things shake down, only about 40, 000 people will be GM employees world-wide. Being in the broken heart of the GM bankruptcy this week and being surrounded by a very somber state of Michigan is very tough to take. Today is a day to remember.

Because today the headlines should read, Detroit R.I.P.

Not rest in peace mind you. No. The RIP stands for “Results in Politics.” I drove past and around Buick City today. I spent a couple hours in Flint. I will be in Detroit in the morning and for the rest of the week. I want to be a witness. This is my home. But things are changing with lightening speed. The factories closed by GM will be someone else’s soon. All the car songs will change. It will now be “See the USA in your Hyun-dai!’ Instead of Mustang Sally, we will dance to “Tata Sally”. The Beach Boys classic will shout “she’s real fine my hybrid mine”.

Like a heavyweight champ, Detroit was left hooked. Knocked out cold. The people of the United States will now own 60% of General Motors. Our choice to drive what we want will soon be over. Smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles will be the norm. It is not without coincidence that gasoline is rising at a record pace, again forcing people into considering small vehicles. Here is the sad truth. Americans do not want small cars. They want cars with good gas mileage.

Ford, Honda, Toyota, and all the smaller companies will listen and watch this week. Notice there is no comment from them today. Chrysler and General Motors are in essence, nationalized. It does not make any difference if we agree or not. This is the new reality.

When we go from 16 million to 10 million units sold, very ugly things can and indeed do happen. One thing for sure is the Big Three is changed forever. Detroit, the once Arsenal of Democracy is forever a much smaller shadow of itself. Re-invention must come from within. And it will quickly come from being without. Those working and those retired are just hoping to keep what they have.
The days of Detroit as the Motor City are modified forever.

This is the result of car sales that melted to nothing. And consumer confidence will not improve overnight, unlike the gas prices approaching three dollars AGAIN.