Be careful! It's starting to happen all over again. The market is great - you're selling cars, having fun and making money.

Why be careful? Because I'm starting to see all that same complacency that I saw years ago when I first started training. It's slowly creeping back into too many dealerships, large and small.

Complacency is always a problem in any business, but when times are good, it not only creeps into dealerships who do well anyway but it also affects the ones who wouldn't do well without the great market we're in and who really should be improving their sales staff and building their customer base.

In fact, I was talking to another trainer, and he said that he's seeing and hearing the exact same thing. Instead of digging in and taking advantage of a great market - he's noticed, too, that many dealers are just riding the wave.

And instead of improving their people to increase sales, more and more dealers just keep adding more below average people to their staff while they freely admit that adding those people is not the way to grow their business.

When talking to them about training, the attitudes are becoming, and I quote...

"Why bother with it, Joe, the market is great! We made a ton last year and we're doing even better the first quarter of 2000. Why spend money training our managers and our salespeople when we're making money hand over fist without doing anything at all!"

Why worry in a great market?

Because "history often repeats itself!" To remind you of recent history; when I first started speaking at 20 Groups - everybody was hitting the golf resorts for meetings back then, paying very little attention to the business at hand. In the meetings, they were saying, "Why bother with it Joe, we're doing great."

Then came the big event! Almost overnight, "good times turned bad." And dealerships had to rely on those "warm bodies" people they had been hiring to pull them through those new, not quite so good times. Well those not so loyal underachievers in sales, that managers had accumulated and supported for years, bailed, leaving their loyal dealers and managers high and dry.

Then everyone was scrambling trying to figure out how to "sell more cars". The 3-Day Resort meetings now became 1 1/2 day serious sessions held at the Embassy Suites closest to the airport instead.

The focus at the NADA Annual Convention changed from the "fun" to the "serious," all almost overnight. In fact, my topic at the convention that year was "How To Sell Your Way Out Of A Down Market" and I had the highest attendance in my workshops they'd ever recorded. The fire marshals were turning dealers away from every class I held.

In that big event, as an industry we lost a lot of dealers who'd been making some money and we even lost dealers who had been making a lot. But in a good market, like the one we're in now, you'd have to be really, really bad to not make money even in spite of yourself.

This great market and great economy could go on for years and even though it has never lasted forever in the past, I guess it could do that, too. Continually focusing on getting better, especially in good times though, not only makes you even more money than you'll make in spite of yourself - it's sorta like buying life insurance. You sure don't plan to use the policy, you only buy insurance just in case it's needed.

I am certainly known in this industry as a positive thinker and we improve every single year in our company without exception, good times or bad, (97% growth per year is our new 16-year average) because we don't wait until things get bad to think about getting better.

When you continually focus on training to improve your salespeople, your management staff and all of your other employees, not only do you reap the benefits of a great economy, you're always prepared for any event... just in case!

Get serious before you have to!