Coach Ken: The Great Awakening

By Ken Taylor of Commercial Truck Training

Have you noticed? Something strange and wonderful is going on around us. The national news broadcast about a neighborhood in Manhattan. Each evening, most of the residence stuck their heads out of the high-rise buildings and stood on their balconies, all applauding on behalf of the health workers in the nation. In one town the teachers at an elementary school caravanned in their local neighborhoods to let students know they cared. One highway patrolman stopped a speeding car.  It was a nurse on her way to the local hospital. He politely asks her to be more careful and then gave her a dozen surgical masks that had been given to him by the department.

I was walking my dog (normally I’m on an airplane, giving a seminar, or making sales calls with dealerships).  I noticed far more families walking together in our subdivision and more people on bicycles than I could count.  As I returned to my neighborhood with the dog, there were families on both sides of the street with their kids (Yes, that’s right, teenagers were actually being seen with their parents!). I complimented them on “social distancing” and we all had a good laugh!

I have spent the last three weeks calling ten dealerships a day and receiving about an equal number of calls from dealerships. I have two purposes with my outbound calls, first to offer help at no charge to assist these dealers through a tough time but also to ask lots of questions regarding sales, service and parts. A very interesting pattern has started to emerge.  At first, I was surprised but once I thought about it, the pattern fit exactly what we teach to dealerships.  I urge you to take a hard look at your own commercial department to see if the same pattern is emerging.

Pattern #1: Dealerships who have been doing a steady flow of business but have not been outside the dealership to call on these same customers have seen the biggest drop off in unit sales.  In most cases it has been a 70% plus drop off.

Pattern #2: Dealerships who have pick up and delivery service for commercial vehicles are seeing a steady flow of service business.  In most cases they have built in an extra fee for this service, and it has been worth the effort.

Pattern #3: Dealerships and commercial departments who have not been actively staying in touch with their commercial customers are seeing the biggest drop off in sales.  One dealer has gone from 15-20 per month for commercial and fleet in February have seen that number drop to 4-5 units.

All of this is a wakeup call.  It is so easy to just “do your job.” It’s not that much harder to go “The extra mile.”  That road is seldom crowded, but those who travel that lonely highway are rewarded in so many ways. First, there is a special feeling of personal satisfaction out of doing the “unexpected.” I often think that most of the fulfillment in life comes from what we do for others, not what we do our ourselves.

I am hopeful and prayerful that this virus is running its course, but another side of me does not want life to get back to “normal.”  My wish is we remain infected with a different virus: one that spreads caring and hope.  A virus that is more worried about others than us. A virus that affects the heart in a way that it beats for all of humanity. A virus that transform a world of getting, to a world of giving.

We are not in the “truck business,” we are not in the car business, we are in the people business.  Here is a quick reality check:

  • Do you know your customers and co-workers’ birthdates, anniversaries, and congratulate them on these special days?
  • Do you know your customers and co-workers’ families, where they were born, where they went to school?
  • Do you send thank you cards, birthday cards, and anniversary cards to customers, co-workers, friends and families?
  • Do you take the time to compliment others whether a nurse, a police officer, a grocery clerk, or a child?
  • Are you constantly “re-inventing” yourself and your business?
  • Do you have an organized system to stay in touch and grow your business?
  • Do you stay in touch with all your customers, prospects, and vendors to continually grow the relationships and block out the competition?

At our company we live by a very simple but powerful quote:

“The road to the extra mile is never crowded.”

Make sure you are traveling that road every minute of every day!