At times like this survival pressure brings out the best in all of us. Our creative juices start flowing and we come up with all kinds of ideas to make up for the slow traffic, declined sales and margins and more. In fact, some of the most opportunistic thinkers actually thrive during time of crises and do better then good times. Some others on the other hand choose to throw in the towel and talk themselves into failure. Human mind  excels with energy and resilience with the magnitude of troubles that it has to deal with. When we experience hardship through other people’s minds and eyes, we get overwhelmed with the thought and ask ourselves; “how do they do it?”. Then we encounter a similar hardship or emotional distress ourselves and miraculously our resilience surprises us and we sail through it.

In 2008 and after, through the collapse of the auto industry in the U.S., our very young practice at Convergent Alliance enjoyed some of its best years in business. Retailers reached out to us in need of help to survive the downturn in the industry. Those were the years when we created our signature business model that we introduced as “MINIMUM REVENUE FORECAST” template. We simply estimated the worst-case scenario revenue stream for each of these stores and using our database of expense structure, we created a P/L statement that basically backed into a break-even at a minimum. We called it “Paint by Numbers”. At that point it simply became a matter of discipline for the management team to adhere to these ratios of expenses for each line item and make sure that they do not get out of line. We are living through some of those times now with a lot of uncertainty as to what it might look like down the road. Assuming that overall retail sales are going to be significantly down for the rest of the year the prudent thing to do would be to get ready. Now, after 15 years of practice, relationship with over 130 rooftops and a meticulous database that we have accumulated, we are better than ever to create business plans for those of you who might be in need to sail through the tough days ahead.

However, in addition to mapping out the road ahead, its equally if not more important to also explore other ways and means of increasing revenue and streamlining your operations for multi-tasking and efficiency improvements alongside of a stellar expense control. Keeping in mind that a slaughter house approach is certainly not the way to get it done, you have  to consider very carefully the difference between “Overhead” and “Expense Reduction” so that you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

In the areas of multi-tasking, process enhancements and efficiency improvements, we have developed some new concepts that might not only help but become ultimately necessary as a paradigm shift in process. As we creatively navigate through social distancing, introducing ideas for customer convenience processes that minimize contact in person, we seek out opportunities through the Internet and social media to continue servicing our client base. While this is extremely important and necessary, we must now, sync these conveniences to be in harmony with our organizational and staff culture to provide consistency and confidence. Therefore, one of the ideas that we propose is a “Single customer service contact” for the clients for all of their needs at your stores whether its sales service parts or other customer relations matters. This will require cross training and ultimately perhaps with the aid of a powerful pay plan, it will attract higher caliber staff who are qualified to multi-task and in return have an improved income stream. Alternatively, In the sales process, well-educated sales staff if empowered, may take on the role of the F&I office and reduce the need to have as many supervising personnel.

At the service side, vehicle pick up and deliveries, message and video communications with customers, house calls can all contribute to creative and enhanced customer service ideas to accommodate your clients through these tough times. As always, we are here to help and happy to have no obligation initial consultations to those of you who might need us. Please reach out to me directly on (310) 717 1876 or Arlan

Stay healthy and safe. See you next month.