What Bankruptcy Means To You And Me…Just Between Car People

Chances are you'll wake up June 2 and head to work, just like on June 1, with most people doing the "same place, same thing" jig and trading their time for money. Sometime (and consistently) over the coming months, however, that will change for far too many people. What we do and what becomes of us will define what impact Chrysler's and General Motors' bankruptcies will ultimately have as well as what will be written.

What bankruptcy means is "a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay its creditors". What it means to you and me depends on what starts on our June 2. It's no secret that a myriad of factors slayed the once-giants. Without getting into the gory details let's say simply that a 'change order' is due (while salespeople might not get that, production folks will!). If everyone continues to focus on the OEMs and not the retail and supplier channel, we'll likely have more 'little' bankruptcies to talk about, soon.

Chances are the real place of change (not discounting what needs to happen at car companies' headquarters) is at dealerships. No doubt the ads will tout change, listening to the public, making better/safer cars and the like. With all of that, people still buy cars from dealerships and not the factories. People buy cars from people. Those people need to be given reasons, explanations, respect, validation and more for ANY purchase they do now.

If you are in retail and are not willing to make difficult changes, you must ask yourself why you're in retail. Bankruptcies will add layers of scrutiny, questions, doubt, consumer pullback and more. You must be prepared to proactively address your market, your clients, your prospects, your business model and more.It might even have people believing they can practically steal your inventory for pennies on the dollar (and tell you they should be able to since the creditors will get about the same!).

There is no such thing as "business as usual". Even in great times, that type of mentality will get you cut at the knees. The market is always in flux, even throwing some curve balls just because the world gives back what you want.

You see bankruptcy is a part of business, unfortunately. It will mean exactly what you want it to mean for you, your staff, your customers and suppliers. If you continue to drive a value, offer benefits, show genuine interest and respect, do what you say you'll do (hello auto industry – wake up!!), give real reasons to return, guess what. People will really do business with you. They have with other businesses in the throws of bankruptcy.

What does bankruptcy mean? What do you want it to mean? Don't allow it to be a crutch, an excuse, a reason to wait, a sign of weakness, a road hazard or anything but a word. If anything, let the transparency be a fear and lethargy removal machine, an opportunity creator and really go out there to be IN business rather that OUT of business. The rest is up to you.

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Author's note: At no time over the past year has IM@CS changed its focus for dealerships: process, branding, communication and accountability. Customized solutions tailored for each client. Commitment to your business and our word. It's time for a partner like that…

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