Guest Opinion: Planning to Win is a Forecast for Success – RVBusiness – Breaking RV Industry News

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest opinion by Daniel Kussow, who is the Midwest Fixed Operations Field Manager for Grand Design RV. Kussow is also RVDA certified for Service Manager/Service Advisor/Warranty Admin/Parts Manager/RVTI level 2 Tech.

Welcome to the New Year. It rolls around every 365 days, and we all use this time to look into the future and try to develop the perfect business plan that will propel us into greatness for the next 12 months.

I’m talking about forecasting for success. It’s the process everyone from dealer principals to department managers to lot personnel get involved in to don their Nostradamus hat and fill out that road map to success. There will be facts and figures, countless pages of statistical analysis, trends and projections, and budgets from days gone past. Twelve-month, Three-year, and Five-year projections.

One common practice is putting together three forecasts, one best-case scenario, “I hope we can use” numbers. One gloom-and-doom prediction will include cost-cutting measures if specific numbers are not obtained, meaning a no-frills, baked-beans-five-nights-a-week kind of mentality that everyone loses sleep over. And, of course, like every good fairy tale, including Goldilocks, one plan that’s Just Right.

We all spend hours coming up with this “Roadmap” to success. With 35-plus years in this business, God knows I’ve done more than my share.

One factor I would like to look at today is a little different spin on this process. We spend the majority of our efforts preparing for the worst-case scenarios. How fluid can we be? How can we position ourselves to react to avoid disaster? But here is a thought: What happens if we win?

I have a nasty habit, and it’s something that has cost me more time, more energy, more lost sleep, and more money than I care to admit. I love to play golf. As a 60-something wanna-be athlete who has never – outside of a few gift certificate lessons – been formerly taught to effectively develop any golf swing that won’t end up on YouTube, I go through a similar process with every round that you may compare to a business forecast. I look at past failures or successes, analyze every shot for the round, and draw conclusions.

My worst-case scenario: Duff the shot, and the ball goes 10 feet, and I take the walk of shame. My middle-of-the-road prediction is that the ball flies within a 50-yard radius of where I wanted it to go. In my best-case scenario, the form is perfect, there is an effortless stroke, and the ball drops precisely where I had envisioned. At that point, I typically respond, “ I was just lucky.”

When we begin our thought process, how much focus do we put into the fact that we may exceed our projected goals? Do we plan to add personnel, invest additional revenue in systems to make us efficient, or increase productivity in our shops? Do we know where to go for further training for our staff to make them more productive in their daily efforts? What benefit programs are available for our employees to help retain or acquire new talent? Are there opportunities to grow our business and expand our presence in the marketplace by donating time, effort, and talent to local events?

In my 40-plus career, I worked for a car dealership in Green Bay, Wis., that had an RV division along with other facets of its operations. I was mentored by one of the greatest marketing minds I have ever met, Fred Koehne, who was the general manager and a dealer principal of the largest Ford Dealership in Wisconsin and one of the most extensive used car operations in the country. The dealership, which at one time employed over 200 people, would constantly hit sales numbers of over 500 units per month in new and used car sales, plus RVs and light and heavy-duty trucks. He was an endless source of ideas, and his standard line, which would make every controller and accountant cringe, was, “You can’t save your way into a profit.”

The bottom line is, do we have a plan when we win? Or, were we content to say, “ I was just lucky.”

The RV business is seasonal, but is also a cyclical business. What goes around does come around, again and again and again. In approximately March of 2020, the world changed forever. Less than six months later, the RV world changed again. There was a whole lot of “Whew, we were just lucky.”

When you look at this year’s forecast, having a fluid, adjustable business model is sound. It can save a business from not being a business next year. But I would challenge you, while formulating that plan:, to also spend some time figuring out how to advance and grow your business when you do win.

You can’t be from Green Bay and not be a Green Bay Packers fan. In 2010, at the start of the season, Head Coach Mike McCarthy, in a hallway outside the locker room, hung an empty frame with no picture right next to all 12 team pictures from previous championship rosters. He told his team “We can have our picture hung up on this board, immortalized for every team to walk these halls that will follow you. That’s what we are playing for; that’s our ultimate goal. Stay focused.” The Packers season maybe didn’t go quite as planned, but because of a win on the last game of the season, on a pass at the end of the game, the Packers beat the Chicago Bears 10-3 and snuck into the playoffs as the last wild card spot with a 10-6 record and therefore would play every playoff game on the road.

On Feb. 6, 2011, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Superbowl 45 to win their 13th league championship. They filled that picture with their team roster, now hanging in that hallway.

Planning to win and what to do when you do is equally important as what to do if you don’t. If you focus on growing your business, you never have to focus on how to keep it.