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How Your Dealership Compares to a Football Team

30 Oct, 2015 By: Jim Kahrs, Prosperity Plus

As the fall season gets into full swing, many of us spend our Saturdays and/or Sundays watching one of America’s favorite pastimes: football. Whether a college or NFL fan, most people who are into football have pretty strong desires to see “their favorite” team make it to the big playoff game, be it the Bowl Championship Series game or the Super Bowl. Sure, this is a great goal, but in reality, it might prove a little lofty for some teams. However, every team has its own goals and measurements of success. In measuring that level of success throughout the season, coaches and players would be evaluating an abundance of statistics. The hope is that if they measure the right things and make the right adjustments, they will be able to achieve the goals set at the beginning of the season. When running a dealership, you can and should borrow a page from the playbook of the sports world.

Let’s take a metaphorical look at how a dealership compares to a football team:

As mentioned, almost every team, and certainly all successful teams set goals before the season starts. The goal may be to make it to the championship game or it might be something short of this. For example, a team might have the goal of getting more wins than they had last year, or having a record over .500, or winning their conference, etc. Regardless of what the goal is there is one important point; it must be something around which the team and coaches can rally. Setting a goal that is unrealistic typically results in little or no effort or “push” toward the goal if it is seen as unachievable. The net result here is a de-motivated team.

So how do we translate this to the dealership world? I suggest that you start with setting a revenue goal for the company. This is one of the key statistics of a dealership. You want the goal to be a stretch but one which the team will rally around. Very often the goal is set as a growth number relative to the previous year. For example, our goal is to grow the business 25%. This is a goal that can be easily made visible to the team and one that the team can affect. Of course the coaching staff also needs to look at the profitability of the company as another key statistic. If you have an open-book policy where the team sees profitability, this can be public. If not you’ll need to have the senior management team keep a close eye on net profit, as increasing total revenue while eroding net profit is a big mistake and one that must be avoided. 

If you’ve ever been to a football game, you’ve seen people in the crowd with signs designed to motivate the rest of the crowd as well as the players on the field. These signs act as a reminder of the goals the team is expected to be working toward. You can replicate this in the office by posting signs and reminders of the goals you’ve set. For example, if you’ve set a goal to grow 25% then you can have signs that reflect that percentage posted in the office. The signs are a daily goal reminder to your team.

Having team goals is critical but by no means sufficient enough. A football team has three distinctly different groups or sub-teams; offense, defense and special teams. Each of these groups has its own coach and its own sub-goals. This is easily replicated in the dealership world. Thus, I would match them up like this; offense is sales, defense is service, and special teams would be administration/billing.

Closing sales is where the majority of our revenue, or scoring, comes in. Keeping customer systems up and running and providing outstanding support is the best way to defend our business from other competitor teams that is always looking to score its own points. Additionally, our ability to administer the business with proper billing, cash and asset management, collections, etc., is the special team’s answer to turning revenue into profit.

Let’s take a closer look at Offense, Defense, and Special Teams:


When looking at a football team’s Offense, you’ll hear statistics such as: yards running, yards passing, number of completed passes and number of interceptions, etc. When looking at these key statistics collectively, you get a good idea on the level of success that’s predicted from the offense team; with its scoring ability and very often the final results of the game. With regard to a dealership, we need to track things in a similar way. Key statistics here will be issues such as: number of prospecting calls, number of appointments, number of demos, etc. If you set targets for these key areas, you will be able to predict where you’ll be successful and where you will have challenges. Telling a sales team to simply go out and sell more without tracking these key actions or improving on them, would be like telling a football offense team to go out and score points without giving them a game plan or the sub-goals necessary to determine success. If a quarterback has a low completion percentage in a game, the coaching staff will spend the following week working with him to determine why this is and then make the necessary corrections.

Good dealerships and companies should be doing the same thing. If a sales rep has, for example, a low appointment to a prospecting call ratio, he or she should get the coaching needed to correct the situation. Is the rep calling the right prospects? Is the rep saying the right things? Is there something else that needs to be addressed? A low statistic here points to an area that needs attention. Unfortunately, I see too many dealerships that do not take the time to make the corrections on a regular basis; thus their reps don’t improve their skills or their results.


The Defense on a football team is charged with stopping the opposition from scoring against the opposing team. The key statistics you’ll see here are things such as: number of forced punts, yards gained by the opponent, interceptions/fumbles caused, and points scored by the team, etc. Just as we saw with offense, the level of success in the team’s defense can be tracked to key statistics. For a dealership think: key statistics like first-call efficiency, response time, contracts and supplies sold, sales leads, etc. A good first-call efficiency percentage means that we/you are fixing things quickly on the first call, thus keeping customers happy. This is the equivalent to forcing a competitor to punt, i.e., being turned away from your client (account).

Getting a sales lead that eventually turns into a sale is the equivalent of an interception when playing defense, or a forced fumble which allows our/your offense (sales team) to get back on the field.


The Special Team units on a football team are expected to put the offense and the defense in the best position to succeed. It is their responsibility to kick or punt the ball deep into the other team’s territory to give our/your defense team more room to work with; to return a kickoff or punt as far as possible into the opponent’s territory, or to kick a field goal when the offense gets close but can’t get the touchdown. In a dealership, the “admin team” takes on much of the special team’s role. The first piece of this comes in with marketing. Marketing is an admin function. It is intended to put the sales team (our offense) in the best position possible with prospects. Where marketing is non-existent, the sales team has to work much harder. It’s like starting every drive from your own two-yard line. The admin team also makes it easier for the offense and defense teams to work by managing inventory well. Having the items that “we need when we need them” is crucial. The admin team can also score points much like a football special team’s unit. In a dealership, admin scores points by doing things such as: selling service contracts, selling supplies, collecting on unpaid invoices, securing vendor discounts and rebates, etc. These all add to the bottom line profitability.

If you hadn’t noticed this already, business is very similar to sports. In essence, we are all playing the game of business. Thinking of it in this way will not only make you more aware and successful, it can bring a new level of fun to your work. When you view it as a game to be won, it is easier to get enjoyment from the day-to-day activities that can, at times, seem like a grind.

The next time you settle in to watch a football game or any other sports game for that matter, look for the similarities to your business and how you can tap into that to bring both the playbook and the fun of the game to your workplace. If you do this successfully, you’ll reap significant rewards professionally, financially, and personally. 


Jim Kahrs is President of Prosperity Plus Management Consulting, Since 2001, Prosperity Plus has helped business owners achieve their goals in terms of profitability, cash flow and growth, as well as assistance with M&A. The company delivers administrative, financial and marketing consulting among other key areas. Visit www.prosperityplus.biz 

About the Author: Jim Kahrs, Prosperity Plus

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