The Rest of the Story from Scott.
Lucky enough to see both sides – From Surviver to Thriving Entrepreneur
Lucky enough to see both sides – From Surviver to Thriving Entrepreneur
I’m a very lucky guy. I’ve always had a business mind, likely not by choice. It’s been totally drilled into my head since day one. With my Dads, Grandfathers, and Uncles as mentors, I had a chance to witness the good, the bad, and the ugly of business and entrepreneurial life. Through years of seeing what works and what doesn’t, I’m super lucky to have the experience to be able to share it with others.
So, one day this idea hits me. It was like you could almost see the lightbulb above my head. It was my “aha moment.” What came from the idea blew up and changed my world and thousands of individual salespeople and dealers as well. Years later, it happened again, in a totally different industry. Two different industries with a similarity that isn’t that obvious at first glance.
It hit me first in September 1997. I was watching my 10-year-old, Nathan’s, basketball game. In fact, it was the second game of a double header. I grew up in the Kirkland/Redmond area of Washington State in the 1960s and 70s. My fathers, both my real dad and my stepfather, owned and operated small businesses. My father, Gary was a second generation car guy and GM at Poier Chevy Oldsmobile (remember those?) in Snohomish Washington. My stepfather, John Meadors, was a fire alarm contractor. They were both hard-working family men who always put food on the table.
Flash forward into the 1980s. I’ve got three little kids, three years apart oldest to youngest, a beautiful brunette sports nut of a wife (GO BRONCOS), and I’m living in a little starter house in Littleton, Colorado. I’d moved to the Denver area seven years earlier, as an apprentice fire alarm installer (surprise). It was 1989 and the commercial construction market had all but dried up and I had three kids to feed. I was broke. I was 26.
I decided to sell cars to pay the bills. I had never done it, but I was in survival mode. Anyway, things went well and I loved it from day one. I was fortunate enough to sign on with a top organization, and had some truly great managers, major life coaches to this day. They’d watch and listen and critique. They made me a salesperson.
It wasn’t easy at Phil Long Ford. There were strict processes that didn’t always make sense (to me) and deals didn’t happen, or were handed off to another salesperson, if you tried to “short cut the steps.” It was the first time I had watched a large-scale operation work from the inside, and it was fascinating. It was a fine tuned, profitable organization that grew and grew and grew every month. Like Shark Tank, except the dealer was smart enough not to sell off his shares.
Like most dealerships, there was the sales board. It was our universe. It showed everyone whether or not you were on top or struggling and it was unforgiving. The managers would work the logbooks daily like there was no tomorrow. Managers confirmed appointments, everyone showed up for deliveries to show customers how much we all appreciated them. It really was awesome.
My first month on the sales floor, I won a sales contest (one of the top three salespeople for the weekend), and got to take a trip with the GM to the Denver Broncos training camp. The three of us got to meet the coaches, trainers, and players literally on their turf. I met our rookie - Steve Atwater, who was doing some advertising for us. I’ll never forget being at the salad bar at lunch with Atwater on one side and John Elway on the other. I’m thinking, “How in the world did I get here? I was broke last month.” But that trip made it all perfectly clear. In business, as in sports, it’s all in the preparation, the drive, and the implementation of your game plan.
I rose through the ranks and worked as a sales manager for six years, moving from used car manager, to new truck manager, to new vehicles director. There were five to six of us running all areas of the sales department, and we always knew three numbers. Our forecasted numbers, our actual numbers, and our tracking numbers. By the mid- 1990s, delivering 500 cars month was average for us.
Our sales machine was impressive, but it wasn’t perfect. However, we all knew where it needed improvement, and we could make those adjustments, so it worked for us. The experience I took from my dealership days and from many professional sports figures I’d met along the way was proof that with the right team and the right game plan anything was possible.
1997 came and I was making more money than I’d ever thought possible, given my background. But I needed time to think if the car business, in the big picture, was really right for me and my family. My wife had felt like a widow and all the baseball, boy scout, and gymnastics parents thought so too. So, I gave notice and moved onto the next chapter.
Flash forward a few months in ‘97 to a Saturday and Nathan’s basketball game. I’m watching the coach during a time out with his young players around him. He’s giving them guidance, giving them direction, and focus. In short, he’s leading his team. And the kids are eating it up. Then it hits me. Salespeople need the same leadership as this young team, and they need it every day. They also need a game plan to follow if their leaders are too busy for them.
I spent the next six months getting feedback from everyone I knew in the business, designing, and developing Daily Gameplan and Coach’s Playbook – two monthly-dated business planners for salespeople, their leaders, and entire sales organizations. It went national within two years. To date, we’ve built over 1.3 million of those “little red books.” We even built an electronic CRM that matched the theory of daily focus on the basics. It was cloud-based in 2001, before cloud based was cool. Daily Gameplan is still used every day by thousands of salespeople and managers in the auto (RV, Boat, Heavy Truck, Powersports, etc.) industry, the furniture industry, and individuals who couldn’t give it up, even after leaving the car business.
Throughout the years growing Daily Gameplan, I developed hundreds of business relationships and friendships from other successful people from outside the automotive industry. Their common success story was developing and implementing a plan that met targets.
Jump to 2009. My daughter, Nicole, was a young paramedic with the Black Hawk Fire Department about 30 miles west of Denver. She had overheard the fire chief and the station captain speak of a fire truck that had lost its brakes and careened through the streets of Boston and ran right through a building. There were numerous injuries and the lieutenant in the truck was killed. The post-accident investigation pointed to a lack of accountability, periodic maintenance, and daily inspections in the stations, which would have caught the bad brakes, potentially avoiding the tragedy. Since we’d (Daily Gameplan) already built cloud-based versions of Daily Gameplan, Nicole wanted to know if we could “build a program for daily fire truck and equipment inspections.” What a weird transition, but after years of development, PSTrax (Public Safety Tracking Systems), it’s now considered a pioneer and a must-have for large and small fire departments alike. And it’s in departments in over 28 states.
Every organization, by its very name and nature, needs organization. It needs certain goals and targets to work towards and certain things to be inspected consistently. In dealership sales, it’s making sure that everyone is productive, steps are not missed, and every team member is making the most of every opportunity.
To me, my work now is no longer work but a total adventure in problem-solving. I travel the country several times a month, and have a small office close to my wife, my kids, and now my two granddaughters. My days are filled meeting new individuals and organizations face to face and through virtual meetings. My consulting is strategic, affordable, and on a measurable timeline. My goal is to assist organizations become better at what they do.
Throughout my consulting career, clients have been able to see rapid progress, whether it’s building an apparatus and equipment program or building a sales team accountability system for a family-owned car dealership. In any case my personal clients see me as an experienced, easy to work with, positive asset to their organization’s success.
I am a firm believer in keeping it simple and not reinventing the wheel. I also believe that you don’t need to spend a fortune to make an impact. All of my solutions, no matter the industry or client, are designed to be affordable and have a measurable return on investment.