A 'whatever' culture will ruin your business

Publish Date: 
Nov 1, 2013
By Tory Hornsby


I RECENTLY HEARD a story about a boy from L.A. (you know, lower Alabama). He was the son of a traveling horse trainer who went from stable to stable, ranch to ranch, farm to farm, race track to race track, training horses. The family was very poor, and due to all of their traveling the boy’s schooling was constantly being interrupted.

When he was a senior in high school he was assigned the task of writing a paper about what he wanted to be when he grew up. There was no question about what he wanted, so he wrote a seven- page paper describing his dream of owning a large horse ranch.

He wrote in great detail about his goal of having a 250-acre ranch, and described where all of the horse training would take place, where the buildings would be, and a specific floor plan for his 5,000 sq. ft. house, even drawing out the floor plan. He put his heart into the assignment.

Two days later the young man received his paper back. There was a large F on the front with a note to see the teacher after class. Once the class ended, he went to the teacher and asked, “Why did I get an F on my paper?” The teacher told him that his writing was based on an unrealistic dream that someone like him would never be able to achieve.

The teacher lectured him about coming from a traveling family that was very poor. “You have no resources, and owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money” the teacher said. “You’ll never be able to afford the land, much less the breeding stock, the food, paying the large stud fees, and that doesn’t even include the house! There’s no way you could ever do this.”

The teacher then told the young man to rewrite his paper using a more realistic goal, one that wasn’t so much of a dream, and that his grade would be reconsidered. The boy went home and thought long and hard about what to do. While he couldn’t afford to get an F on the project, he knew exactly what he wanted in life. Finally, after holding on to the paper for an entire week, he turned it back in with no changes at all.

As the young man handed in his paper, he said, “You can keep the F. I’ll keep my dream.”

Of course, the young man did achieve his dream of owning a large horse ranch and ultimately received an apology from the teacher. The success of this young man is in large part due to his deliberate intent. He deliberately and intently shaped his life around what he wanted.

Deliberate intent is in short supply these days. Our world is full of people that, at best, just show up. There’s no plan, no vision and their end result is ultimately dictated by whatever happens. If customers come in and people buy, it’s a good day; if they don’t it’s a bad day. Whatever happens, happens.

Operational casualness in any business is a cardinal sin, but in a motorcycle business it quickly creates a 'whatever' culture.

Operational casualness in any business is a cardinal sin, but in a motorcycle business (and especially in your sales department) it quickly creates a ‘whatever’ culture. In other words, if you don’t care enough about your dealership to develop the systems and processes that dictate how your business runs, your staff won’t care, either.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Your vision is your plan, your goal, your dream.

Too many folks complain about their dealership’s operation, their staff, their traffic. They have missed the fact that their life and business is the culmination of their own decisions. You’re either making the decisions to build an incredible culture with your staff and drive sales, or you’re simply the passenger waiting on something or someone else to come drive it for you.

Listen up: You design your life by the choices you make. The choices are yours. You get to choose happiness or sadness. You choose decisiveness or ambivalence. You choose success or failure. You choose courage or fear. You choose the ability to create a vibrant sales culture that’s customer oriented  or not. But it doesn’t just happen; it is completely designed by you.

Every moment and every situation provides you with a new choice. How will you drive sales moving forward? Don’t pull the ‘business is slowing down, it’s time to check out’ card. That card has a big fat F on it. It’s time to tell operational casualness to “keep the F,” because you’re keeping your vision.