The One Hour Challenge

NATM News,

By Bob Clements and Sara Hey of Bob Clements International, Inc.

If you had one hour a day that you weren’t interrupted, what could you accomplish? Almost anything, right? I want you to pick something that is important to helping you achieve the vision you have set out for your trailer dealership, and commit one solid hour a day for the next week and work on it.

For example, if you’re wanting to create stability in your dealership, your one hour (or power hour, you can call it whatever you want!) may be focused on forecasting and establishing a budget, by department, for the coming year. If your focus is growth, maybe that hour is spent diving into the marketing plan. Everyone’s “one thing” is different, but your “one thing” that you invest a dedicated one hour each day on will move your dealership toward your vision. Just pick one thing that will allow you to move toward your vision.

I’m asking you to commit one uninterrupted hour a day for one week. However, with that in mind, I want you to make it your best hour. This means when your brain is fresh and you are ready to think and work. Are you a morning person or an afternoon person? If you have an afternoon slump, after lunch, that is not the time for your hour. You will just end up on your phone playing games (speaking from experience). So, if you’re a morning person, make your hour the first hour of the day. If you’re not a morning person, find the time you are most alert and ready to get to work.

At this point, shut your door and tell your people that unless 911 has to be called, they cannot bother you for the next hour. Guess what? Everyone will survive for one hour each day without you. If a problem comes up, they will either figure it out or they will wait, and you will have held an important boundary. Way to go! Now, pick your one thing and get to work.
Are you needing a little more guidance on where to start? Here’s what I want you to do: write the name of each department represented in your dealership and the words “Stability,” Growth,” and “Accountability” under each department.

For each department that didn’t generate a profit last year, I want you to circle the word “Stability.” If what you are doing isn’t making you money, you need to either stop doing it or figure out how to make money doing it.

If you circled “Stability” under any of the departments, this is where you need to begin making changes and where you need to spend your hour. There are several things you can do to begin to create stability, but to get you started we will outline at least one suggestion per department.

Keep in mind, as you read through these suggestions, I don’t expect you to tackle all these today. If you did, you probably wouldn’t do any of them well, which will only leave you frustrated and yelling. Pick one item and use your entire one hour of time a day, every day, until it gets done. Then, and only then, do I want you to move on to the next one. My guess is that you, like many entrepreneurs, have a list of great ideas and projects you have started but never finished because something else that was shiny and exciting caught your eye. If you want to be the solution, you need to pick one item in one department and commit to spending your hour on it, until it’s completed.


Service: When working to achieve stability in the service department, the goal of most dealerships is to measure the right numbers. In order to get the right numbers, you must have the right data. This starts with your technicians clocking in and out of work orders. Yes, there are other numbers you should be looking at, but everything is built on your technicians’ time.

Parts: As you think about parts, start with your margins. Your target margin will vary based upon the equipment you carry, but all the targets should be at or above MSRP unless you have handpicked them as lost leaders so you can draw people in who will then buy more expensive parts. Don’t forget that MSRP is a suggestion and determined by turning a part four times a year. If a part is turning less than four times, the part’s price should be above MSRP.

Sales: Stability in sales begins by measuring the activity of your salespeople. We require every salesperson to make a minimum of twenty touches a day. This could be a phone call, email, or someone walking in your door.


Now, as you look at your paper, identify which department has the potential for growth. For sustained growth to occur, the department needs to be stable first. Yes, you can have growth in a department, but a lack of stability will make it a never-ending nightmare for you. So, which departments are ready for growth? Here are suggestions, by department, that can help you generate growth.

Service: Growth often happens when the people you have are being utilized to their full potential. This can happen if you bring on a service coordinator or roll out a compensation plan based upon efficiency for your technicians.

Parts: Growth in parts occurs by providing training for your parts people, helping them to become parts salespeople, and teaching them skills such as upselling and cross-selling. By implementing upselling and cross-selling, this alone can produce growth up to 35 percent in the parts department!

Sales: The key to growth in whole goods is having a marketing plan that mimics how and when you need increased sales. If you know that 20 percent of whole goods sales happen in April, you need to be spending 20 percent of your marketing budget four to six weeks before you expect to see the sales occur.


The last category is “Accountability.” Look at the departments you’ve listed and ask yourself, “Are there any departments that have achieved stability and growth?” If the answer is yes, it’s time to set accountability goals for the department.

Service: For the service department you might begin by having regular meetings with your team to share numbers and financials. When your entire team is aware of the common goals and what needs to happen in order to achieve them, it creates accountability for both them and you.

Parts: In this area, you may need to develop a plan to burn down your parts inventory at the peak of season. This accountability frees up cash flow during the slow season but also gives you the ability to place orders with your manufacturers in a way that gives you the best possible discounts.

Sales: For many of our dealers, a goal of sales accountability is an intense focus on the little things. This can be as simple as making sure all customer information is inputted into your CRM. This is often one of the things that salespeople can get lazy on, and its effects are wide-reaching.

While each one of your departments may be at a different point of maturity in your dealership, it’s important to keep in mind that you must start with one thing. Your first focus should be to get each department to a place of stability, and from there you can determine a plan for growth and accountability.

A healthy and profitable business is powered by healthy and profitable departments. Taking a one-hour challenge every day will allow you to move your dealership to a place of you running it instead of it running you.

For more information about improving your trailer dealership, visit

This article is an excerpt from the new book, You’re the Problem (and the Solution), by Bob Clements and Sara Hey of Bob Clements International, Inc. For more information, visit