There’s a lot of data that people point to that suggests the success of a car dealership—CPL, VDPs, CSI, gross. But when you get down to it, there’s a single number that measures success above all others—SALES! Everything you do should be in support of this singular goal—selling cars.

Unfortunately, many dealers set an overall goal and expect the rest to take care of itself, like set it and forget it. But here’s the truth—if you don’t put thought into how you are going to achieve a goal, then you can’t be surprised when you fall short.

Achieving goals and busting through plateaus requires thought, strategy and discipline in both setting and executing your sales targets; however, there are three simple steps you can take right now that will allow you to differentiate your dealership and start you on the road to success.

Step 1: Don’t Set A Yearly Goal

Sales activity is often thought about in terms of a yearly plan. For instance, “I sold 500 cars last year, so I want to sell at least 525 cars this year.” Then they reverse engineer the goal by breaking that number down into monthly and weekly targets. But there’s a problem with this thinking—you both undercut the opportunity to exceed your goal and increase the risk of missing your goal simultaneously.

Here’s what we mean. If you have a 10 car per week goal, and you reach it, you might be inclined to celebrate. And you can guarantee that your team will want to celebrate. GREAT! We get it! And believe us, we never knock celebrating.

But once you remove the pressure, why should they sell anymore? What’s the reason for them to keep reaching, pushing, striving? Goals give you and your salespeople something to work for. Remove that pressure and everything will start to slow down, making it all the harder to get things going again the next month.

Or, what’s worse is your team could miss the goal the first one, two or even three weeks out of the gate (or months for that matter)! An annual goal means that if you miss a goal one month, you’ll spend the rest of the year playing catch up. You could end up in December needing to sell 100 cars to make your goal when you’re only a 40 car per month store. That would require some major changes with not much track to run on.

Instead, reverse the way you think about setting goals with these three easy steps:

  1. Look at your setup and your staff.
  2. Ask yourself what you can achieve right now.
  3. Build a monthly goal around this current model.

In this version you are focused more on your short-term goals, making it easier to change direction and make adjustments if you miss (or exceed) a weekly target.

What do you think? Have you found success in setting annual goals or do you prefer to set short-term goals and then raise the bar? Tell us in the comments.

That’s step number one! Check back on Friday when we’ll have steps two and three to achieving more of your goals.