The spring selling season brings excitement back into the dealership. The optimism your customers feel about working on their properties rejuvenates your sales team and those quotas seem much more obtainable. However, your sales team, no matter how good they are, can’t carry a dealership. They won’t make that sale if someone doesn’t answer the phone or another person doesn’t set up and display the equipment properly. That’s why now is the time to make sure your entire team is rallying around the spring and summer selling seasons.

This thought of rallying for a cause reminds me about when a small agriculture group I belong to decided to host a national four-day conference. The minute we signed on our group became a force. We were no longer just having meetings based on the calendar, but because we had a project we could sink our teeth into. Our meeting attendance doubled, committees formed on their own and we worked like crazy. It was as if our whole reputation was based on those four days. Regardless of whether it was or wasn’t, it gave us a purpose.

What if you set the mentality that the future of your dealership was based on sales made in the next 6 months? Don’t think of it as a doomsday scenario, but from the mentality that it’s now or never. Challenge each employee to evaluate their daily interactions with customers. For instance, what is the first impression made when a customer views your dealership in person or online? How many rings does it take before someone picks up the call and what’s the first greeting? How many feet do they have to travel before they are greeted by a salesperson or before signage directs them to a specific department?  How hard do your salespeople listen as opposed to sell? And, does your service department set and meet repair deadlines?

Experts talk about the 30-foot, 10-foot and 3-foot experience. The 30-foot experience is what the customer sees when they drive up to the dealership, such as the exterior signage, says David Schmidt, president of Aislelogic, a retail merchandising consulting and technology company based in Saukville, Wis. This is where you build brand awareness of your dealership and the lines you carry.  At 10 feet, you’re leading the customer to a product. “Assume that it’s everybody’s first experience in the store,” Schmidt says.

The 3-foot mark is the defining moment in the purchase. “You need to effectively communicate in 3 seconds or less. Quickly give them a message, such as financing options,” Schmidt says.

The “now or never” mentality doesn’t mean every interaction is a sale, but it should mean a future sale. No customer interaction can go to waste and maybe even answering the phone by the second ring could save the dealership.

Then, incentivize, incentivize, incentivize. Rethink those quotas and go beyond just recognizing an employee of the month. Reward for a single — outstanding — action. Throughout the season, find ways to share performance metrics to keep momentum high and focused. And, say thank you, often.

My hope would be that your “now or never” drill could make long-lasting changes in how you do business. Your customers, employees and your dealership will all benefit.