David Slone – Leading in Tough Times

David SloneIn depressed economies and down times, it is only natural to want to shrink back, cut expenses and tighten your belts.  Over the past few years, and probably for the next few years, companies (dealers) have and will continue to cut marketing and people.  It is only natural for owners, CEOs and managers to think this way.  If we have the money, we better hold on to it until things get a little better, right?

This is cowardly thinking and not fit for a true leader.  Now is the time to actually grow your business and increase your market share.   It is contrary to popular thinking, but only the companies that buck the trends will get the benefits.

When your competitors are cutting back and “digging in” for the down times, it would be wise, almost cunning, to take advantage of that and steal some of their market-share.  As many companies feel the pinch and react in fear, it will be the companies that wisely respond with courage that will win big.  The majority of growth during this time is not going to come from the total market increasing substantially but from growing your share of the current market.  While most dealers die a slow death, some will grow their sales, their market share and even their reach.  What do I mean by reach?  Some dealers, who are financially able, will find that this is the time to expand, buy dealers that are scared or retreating and take advantage of innovative, “outside of the box” ideas.

When the economy turns back, and it will, the dealers who have used the depressed times to get better and grow their influence will be the dealers who reap the benefits.  And it’s not all about spending money; it’s about finding ways to grow, spending money wisely, working to get the best ROI on the money you spend and increasing your influence.

Here is what will happen:  The market will begin to turn around and most dealers will start to feel comfortable again. They will begin spending money and trying to catch up.  But, since you were never frozen by fear, you will be so far ahead of the game that they will never catch up. The market share that they gave up will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get back.

I encourage you to consider your response to tough times.  Are you shrinking from fear or expanding with courage?  The real leader will find a way to expand with courage, and in the end, will be better for it.