Nigeria: A Rising Trade Partner With the West

In recent years, people may be apt to dismiss Nigeria as a legitimate player in the global trade arena. For all the resources this country offers the West and other parts of the world, the association of the country with the rapid rise in Internet and phone scams risks the Nigerian reputation. These dubious e-mails are referred to as such as in the beginning the majority of messages originated (or claimed to come from) Nigeria – although now similar Internet scams come from other parts of the world. Despite this mark, it should be noted that Nigeria is a growing member of the Next 11 group of trading countries, an emerging mixed economy ranked among the top forty nations in the world in terms of gross domestic product.

In its home continent, the republic follows only South Africa in ranking the top African nations by overall economy – and is the largest in West Africa. Thanks to rich oil fields, the country provides a powerful resource for petroleum that hasn’t gone unnoticed among western nations, including the United States. The US alone accounts for Nigeria’s greatest percentage of foreign investment.

Top Exports of Nigeria

The majority of the republic’s overall income is derived from petroleum and crude oil exports. As a member of OPEC and one of the largest suppliers in the world, Nigeria exports billions of dollars worth of oil annually – with the United States receiving the lion’s share. Other popular exports include:

Cocoa beans – While not a major figure in this commodity as other countries, several million dollars’ worth of cocoa exported around the world makes this crop quite valuable.

Natural rubber – With a growing interest in manufacture of “green products,” Nigeria has seen a rise in demand for rubber and tree gum.

Tree and ground nuts – More than half of the republic’s labor force is agricultural, and ground nuts especially make up a good percentage of crops.

Cooking oils – Palm and coconut oils are pressed and exported regularly.

Top Imports of Nigeria

Nigeria’s primarily agrarian environment leaves her people to rely upon global imports to sustain the domestic economy. Drilling equipment for their natural oil resources is especially in demand, as is other excavating machinery. Other top imports from the United States and elsewhere include:

Grains – Corn and rice come in high demand, for though Nigeria has plenty of land for farming it is used more for what they export.

Automotive – Cars and transportation are shipped regularly into country to ensure business stays moving.

Refined petroleum byproducts – As with other countries, Nigeria tends to export more crude and raw materials and leave refinement to trading partners.

With western nations continuing to seek alternative fuel partners, it is a great probability Nigeria will figure more into American trading. There is definitely more to this country than an unfortunate association with Internet misbehavior.

The Chrysler 300 – Making You an Offer You Can’t Refuse

 Image has been something that has always seemed to pass me by slightly. As I write this I am sat in an office wearing a cardigan and jeans; hardly a bold and brave fashion statement. It would be fair to say that I am not exactly the most ostentatious human being on the planet, but part of me craves to change that. A portion of my psyche, buried underneath layers and layers of shame and guilt, wants to buy an item that screams out to the world, “Look at me world! Look at meeeeee!” So far I have kept this mental impulse successfully under wraps, partly for reasons of decency, partly because I never seem to have enough money to afford anything other than the mundane. I do, however, have one fantasy that if even given a modicum of a chance of achieving I would pounce on in a second.

Now I’m assuming that being cultured and intelligent people, you have probably seen the Godfather films. Well, to put it bluntly, I want to be the Godfather. The power, the influence, the style and the lifestyle are all the stuff of dreams. Obviously I’m not interested in the gambling, racketeering and indiscriminate murdering; I just want the house, the suits, the respect and the cars. Seeing as how the housing market is in the doldrums, I already have a (admittedly ill-fitting) suit and no one will ever respect me, I’ll just have to settle for the car.

Alas they don’t make cars like they did back in the halcyon days of mob rule; the wonderfully majestic Cadillac Fleetwood 75 is the perfect way for a Mafia boss to travel combining comfort, prestige and style. Unfortunately this particular model ceased production in the 1970’s and to buy one now would probably cost you a small fortune. So for the modern Don, there has to be a suitable substitute.

At this point I would like to introduce the Chrysler 300 [http://www.cheapchryslerjeep.co.uk/specials/chrysler-300c.shtml]; possibly the most regal looking car Chrysler have manufactured and arguably a suitable transport for any Mafia Don to be driven around in. The biggest plus point of this particular vehicle is the price point. A fully specced Chrysler 300 (that includes luxury chrome wheels, bucket seats, seatback tables and Video Entertainment system) comes in at the remarkable price of around £37,000; a very good price for a luxury car. This is proof enough that you don’t have to be a boss of one of the Five Families to afford opulence.
The power to drive all this class comes from the roaring 5.7 Liter V8 engine, which when pushed sounds similar to a lion being poked with a stick; very angry and extremely aggressive. With a 0-60 time of slightly less than 6 seconds, you’ll not only have the best looking car at the traffic lights, but you’ll most likely be the first one away from them.

American cars aren’t renowned for their maneuverability and often seem too bulky for our quaint British roads, but the Chrysler 300 hugs the corners as well as any large saloon and makes for a comfy ride; both for the driver and the perilously dangerous mafia boss in the back. The Chrysler 300 is an impressive drive by anyone’s standards.
Just make sure that you don’t have any vendettas with anyone, you wouldn’t want it to explode when you turned the key in the ignition…

Used Audi – The Fashionable Used Car Choice

There seems to be an ongoing war in the fashionable stakes by a few competing car companies recently. The most obvious one to my mind is the one that exists between BMW and Audi. These two German powerhouse (or should that be Powerhaus?) manufacturers have spent the last decade or so competing for the same market share and as a result aren’t what you would describe as ‘firm friends’.

What is truly interesting about this rivalry is the swings and roundabouts effect that seems to dominate their popularity. One minute the Audi models are seen as the ultimate car to be seen in, the next moment the BMW is the de rigueur car of choice. So how can you be sure that you are buying the most fashionable car if they are constantly jockeying for positions?
 
The simple answer is that you can’t. With the frequency and intensity that these two warring brands trade blows and swap positions it would be an impossible task to choose one car that would remain on the top of the tree. The best option available to the discerning BMW or Audi buyer is to make a choice and stick with it.
 
It has to be said that the best way to buy Audi or BMW cars is to keep one beady eye on the used markets as prestige cars suffer rather gigantic depreciation and become a great deal more affordable to those of us with less extravagant salaries. My personal choice would be the Used Audi market, as this seems to be where the lion’s share of the bargains lie.   

Calling All Ostriches

It’s a myth that an ostrich buries its head in the sand. It merely seems like it when viewed from a distance.

The ostrich is really digging a hole in which to lay its head and long neck flat, in an attempt to disguise itself like a mound of sand when it can’t outrun its enemy.

I’ve concluded too many of today’s F&I managers are digging themselves holes. Not to hide from customers, but to bury their training manuals and all they’ve learned in workshop sessions. Why don’t more dealers embrace training… “it’s imperative we implement ongoing education once the F&I manager returns from a workshop or in-dealership consultation”.

I recently held an advanced workshop on the steps required to make a sale in F&I. It had a prerequisite: managers must have attended a 3-day workshop on menu selling principles.

Within an hour, I realized most attendees had completely forgotten the material from the first class. How was this possible? It was as if they never attended day one class! I had to assume they had buried the training manual in a drawer the minute they returned to the dealership.

Few had implemented the methods they had learned and few cared enough to find the manual and bring it to the advanced training session. If you don’t take yourself seriously how do you expect your customers will? You want to be a leader in the pack but you refuse to do what it takes to drive performance! It takes a consistent sales presentation approach and dedication to your profession.

They thought they knew it all, and were disinclined to change course. Unlike the ostrich, who knows when it’s better to hide in the sand, rather than trying to outrun its enemy, they preferred to stick to the old ways that have serious drawbacks.

Let’s review some F&I strategies and issues.

The Interview

I strongly support the pre-sales interview. How do you offer valued based products or overcome objections if you don’t know anything about the customer? Nothing is better than face to face… “based on what you told me earlier”. Never assume always get the customer to tell you how to sell them!

Dealers and finance managers complain that sales are off and profits sliding downward faster than an Olympic luge. Yet far too many of them ignore using their past training and don’t require follow-ups instruction. The irony is if you would simply practice and implement a consistent upfront sales process your production would increase significantly. Too many are trying to find the short cut… guess what there are no short cuts or quick schemes; it takes hard word and determination to achieve results… and it’s happening all over the country!

Some who’ve attended training workshops say the problem with their personal failure belongs with the facilitator who couldn’t hold their attention long enough for them to learn anything. This may occasionally be true.

A good workshop provides several easy, practical and effective steps to increase sales and profits. In order to see results in their dealership profits, however, attendees must change their attitudes and implement the proven methods.

Implementing Change

If you attend a training workshop, your time will be wasted and money misspent, if you don’t implement the suggested changes. Why don’t you practice the word-tracks… they wouldn’t be “word-tracks” if they didn’t work for someone else. We copy those who are successful! An actor knows their script they never leave home without it… unless they don’t want the part. Al Pacino, “say hello to my little friend”.

If your doctor tells you to lose weight or you’ll suffer dire consequences, you’ll heed his advice. It would be foolish to do otherwise.

If your golf instructor gives you three hints on how to drastically improve the swing, you’ll practice until you have mastered it. You believe practice makes perfect.

The same holds true of F&I training. If you ignore the material provided, you shouldn’t be surprised to find that nothing changes in your performance.

Worn-out and ineffective procedures won’t magically produce galloping profits. Do you wonder why you can’t increase your per-vehicle-retailed or product index performance? Do you wonder why you have poor customer satisfaction scores?

How can you show the value of your products if you can’t accurately describe them? How long has it been since you thoroughly read your product agreements or your finance and lease agreements? When was the last time you sat with your bank or product reps?

Some low performing F&I managers aren’t fully knowledgeable about their products wouldn’t know what covered what, but still present them. They can’t show value, so they discount. When nothing works, they blame the economy.

Compliance

Compliance is not a dirty word. Several F&I managers have told me the industry has made too much of this “compliance thing.” Consider CFBP and the FTC and if you don’t know what that is I suggest you find out.

They know of no one who has gone to jail for deceptive practices. Of course these are the same managers who complain about reduced sales and profits and the loss of a significant number of customers. It’s time to rethink the way you’ve been doing business. “We’ve been doing business like this for fifty years”… this mindset is poison!

Their dealerships may not have been fined for lack of compliance – yet. But they shouldn’t assume their customers haven’t figured it out and are staying away.

Thanks to sales tactics, they are on extended terms and buried beneath thousands of dollars with no hope in sight. Where are the car deals? The deals are sitting in driveways across the nation.

Sixty percent of your customers are buried in debt and the banks are no longer helping you with those high advances. So what do you do now?

Some thought those 84-month term deals were great. And took advantage of those outdated customer-packing payments, and hid terms and rates.This practice is not only deceptive, it’s stealing.

Why have you had to resort to outdated and deceptive methods to achieve profits? Because you don’t know how to be upfront and sell the value of the products. It’s easier to extend out the term then to discuss why the value of the product outweighs the cost in the customer’s mind. Once credibility is lost, it’s seldom regained. That’s a risk no dealership should take.

Keep Learning- Reach for The Stars

Education doesn’t come only from a college classroom. Dealership sales education is available in training workshops that specialize in the subject matter.

It’s not too late to learn fresh sales techniques to present your products and finance options, to gain a more understanding of why the customer interview is vital before beginning the process, or to understand why compliance is essential.

It’s no secret that the automotive industry is changing rapidly. Online virtual dealerships are gaining ground and may soon be commonplace. With the iPad, iPhone… it’s all going mobile… your “box” is changing are you?

They offer your customers “truth” and “compliance” and use various means to win them over. They describe your menu products in detail and offer “fair” and “competitive” prices.

What can you do? Take steps to understand other sales methods upfront selling techniques that increases your performance while adhering to customer satisfaction.

Don’t become an ostrich and bury your training manuals-educations is critical. Don’t ignore the effects of changing times. F&I Training is essential in today’s environment! Transparent sales behavior wins more customers and increases overall profits without jeopardizing your good name.

Although an ostrich prefers to run away, it has powerful legs and can kill a lion with one swift kick.

Kick your decreasing sales and profit problems by confronting them. Keep learning and then put into action what you learned.