We see it happen every year—dealerships take their foot off the gas and choose to coast through the winter months. Many dealers and general managers think, “why put in a ton of extra effort, if we’re going to have a slow start to the year anyway?”

In a way, they think of winter as hibernation time. They’ve been pushing and pushing and selling and selling all year, sowhen winter rolls around, they’ve built up a thick winter coat and think it’s time to sleep.

Many dealerships will do this by reducing their advertising, reducing their outreach or even getting more relaxed about general dealership procedures.

But slowing down or sleeping in the winter because the dealership is “going to be slow anyway” only to wake again in the spring isn’t going to help you grow in 2020. It’s the opposite of what you need to start your year with a bang.

Here’s the truth: if you treat your dealership like it’s going to slow down, it will. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s why we’ve put together the 20 things you need to do now to ensure you hit the ground running in 2020.

  1. Set goals for the dealership for the coming year.
  2. Make actionable steps for achieving those goals.
  3. Post goals in a public area—include action steps and detail how every employee helps each step of the process.
  4. Don’t THINK of the new year and winter as a slower time—your frame of mind will frame your actions and your actions will frame your success.
  5. Don’t stop advertising just because the other dealerships in your area have. When everyone is hibernating, there’s less clutter, less confusion and less noise from other dealerships. It’s the perfect opportunity to gain market share.
  6. Refine the systems and processes at your dealership. Make a list of all your important business processes and ask yourself and your leadership team how your processes SHOULD work, not just how these processes have been working. With further evaluation, you might find that there are more efficient and lucrative ways for systems to be run.
  7. Take a walk through your dealership and view it from the eyes of your customers.
  8. Survey customers about their experience. Find out what would’ve made their experience better.
  9. Double down on your advertising while it’s less crowded and less expensive. It’s your golden opportunity to be the lone voice or at least one of fewer voices.
  10. Bolster the customer experience. Improve or overhaul the impression customers get when they do business with your store. Evaluate everything from the minute they drive onto your lot to the minute they leave. Greetings, bathrooms and employee dress code are often overlooked.
  11. Establish or beef up a customer referral program.
  12. Increase activity on social media.
  13. Improve or revisit your employee training and onboarding programs.
  14. Focus on your workplace culture.
  15. Work on developing your employees—start a weekly one-on-one manager-to-employee development program for each employee.
  16. Develop or establish a system that improves your speed to lead time.
  17. Leverage your lists—sold and unsold.
  18. Turn snow days into grow days. Slow days at the dealership don’t need to be a bad thing. Use them as your opportunity to work with specific departments and continue employee training. Things like role-playing, rehearsing and practicing are all great slow day activities. Just make sure you’re giving all departments equal love.
  19. Volunteer or get your dealership involved in community involvement. This will help establish your dealership as a supporter of the community.
  20. Invest in your leadership team. You can’t be everywhere at once and great employees start with great managers. Invest in the development of your leadership team and you’ll see the results trickle down to your employees.