I was with an icon of the home improvement industry the other day. He has been in business for more than 40 years, and he has built, and continues to grow, a fantastic business. His company image has evolved, and he says that he gives back to the community more than he did in his early years.
This led us into a conversation about his earlier days in business. He explained to me that ‘back then’ we didn’t worry about a recession or any economic crisis. We just sold hard because that’s what we needed to do.
I also visited a dealer in Detroit, Mich. Over the past few years, this arguably could be one of the most challenging markets in the country. We were preparing for what we were going to discuss with his salespeople in their sales meeting. He said to me, ‘Please keep your message positive. We know how challenging things are in this market but we don’t need to remind them.’ He went on to say that business is happening, and we need to stay on point with this message.
As I started reflecting on these two visits, I started to connect the two messages. And other comments from other dealers started coming together. The economy, whether things are good or bad, is based on confidence. It isn’t necessarily about all the numbers economists or politicians want to throw out. Economists are traditionally non-committal, and it is obvious politicians like blaming each other for the troubles of the economy.
I am certainly stating the obvious to many of you, myself included. But when we talk about stimulus, taxes, housing, it really is amazing that it boils down to something so simple as confidence.
This being said, are many of us just going through the motions until things improve or are we doing things to improve our confidence and our customers’ confidence?
I see many dealers stepping out of their comfort zone and trying things they wouldn’t think of doing before. I have media based dealers that are now experimenting with canvassing. One particular dealer is not only finding canvassing as a new and significant source of leads, but they are discovering something else. Because they have used media so effectively, the canvassers are having a higher success rate than forecasted. They are using their name recognition through their strong media presence to capture more canvassed leads.
There are so many other stories like this out in the home improvement industry. To this, I attended the WDDA Forum a couple of weeks ago. The dealers attending were not hanging their heads in defeat, but they were brimming with optimism and ideas. My point is simply we need to create our own ‘good old days’ today and in the future.