Survival of the Quickest or Adaptation-2013
I know that is a slight variation on the standard cliché, but it meets my needs, so I have adapted it for use here. Before you write me off as an industry dinosaur (no adaptation, there), please take a minute to read what I have to say.
Recently, the Discovery Channel ran a video-essay called “Ten Ways Life Has Adapted To Its Environment.” I found a lot of similarities that can be applied to the Special Finance Profession. I suppose that the point should be obvious; we are part of ‘Life.” It kind of brought to mind some conversations, that I have been a part of over the past half-dozen years. about the future of our industry.
Numerous times, weekly, someone will say to me, “What is 2013 going to look like for us in Special Finance?”
Now if I had the clairvoyant skills to answer that question, intelligently, my services would be in serious demand. However, knowing those answers might not be such a great advantage! One of the hallmarks of a successful Special Finance professional is the innate ability to adapt to his/her situation. Any number of times a day, we have to analyze the information from the prospect before us and propose a solution for their unique situation.
So what does that have to do with the Survival of the Quickest? Look about you (in the broad industry sense) and see exactly who you see and, as well, who of those are prospering. Those of us, of a certain age, who have witnessed and, in most cases, experienced the wild ride Special Finance has taken over these past two-three decades have lived through highs and lows that render the wildest amusement park ride pale in comparison. The survivors, in general, are those who have been able to adapt to the changing climate in our industry. From the baby-steps of the late 80’s and early 90’s to the dizzying heights of the mid-90’s to the mind-boggling depths of the last half-dozen years, those who have remained involved with Special Finance have been those who have found a way to adapt their skills to the situation at hand. And those who have prospered are those who have adapted the quickest!
One of the most interesting “ways” that Discovery pointed out, was the ability to adapt to the environment through the use of tools. “Behavioral adaptation increases the ability of any organism to survive” Ironically, one of the first articles that I ever wrote for publication was called “The Old Tools.” Desking applications, no make that computers in general, have made our job much less tedious. But the tools themselves are not the solution. It is our adaptation and ability to use the tools that has made us the success that we are. Those who adapted quickest are the most prosperous. We can say the same thing about inventory acquisition and management.
Perhaps the most often ignored skill in our or any other, industry is the ability to profit from a tool and to know when to put it aside when it becomes unproductive. Lead generation falls into this category in all manner and form. Internet leads, trigger leads and direct mail are, and have always been, cyclical. They can be wildly productive in January and stone-cold in March. This is one of the reasons that I and other industry experts constantly admonish you to heed the “all your eggs in one basket” cliché. Those providers, like VOISYS, who can adapt to market conditions, will continually provide you with updated lead generation products that allow you to adapt and survive current market conditions. The ability to put a non-productive tool on the shelf and the wisdom to put it back to work when conditions warrant, remain important skills of the Special Finance Professional. Look back to what worked in 1997 and consider what might be tweaked to work today. Look at what is not working today and, in conjunction with your suppliers, develop changes and/or upgrades that will adapt those tools to today’s market conditions. The very sage Will Rodgers once opined; “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there!”
Adaptability is the key to surviving and prospering in any market conditions. The ability to understand what is going on around you, and the skills to adapt to new challenges and to adapt those skills to current conditions, quickly, is the pathway to prosperity.
Just my two cents worth.
About the author
Dick Hassberger, of Lake Orion, Michigan is a veteran of over 50 years in the Automotive Financing and Leasing industry, starting his career with the former Wayne Oakland Bank in September 1960. Dick is National Sales Director for VOISYS. He has held executive positions with Major Banks, Lending Institutions and Leasing companies and has accumulated a vast store of knowledge in the automotive financing industry, which he regularly shares with his client dealerships as well as readers of this blog. Dick was a regular author for World of Special Finance Magazine.