What the best of the best do when they make a mistake

November 12, 2009

The following is an email exchange that occurred yesterday between myself and John Chalfant, one of the used car operators for whom I have the greatest respect.  There are two important lessons to be found in this exchange. First, in spite of this particular individual’s extraordinary past successes, he is perfectly willing to admit that he made a mistake, and there is no ego or emotion involved.  Second, John has quickly formulated an intelligent plan to rectify his error.  There was no delay or intention to cover up the problem by moving money around, applying reserves or similar means of fictional remedy.  These are the traits and qualities that define the best of the best.


Dale, I don’t know if you have looked at my V-auto home page lately.  If you have then you know it is F*&^ed up!  I made a couple errors and our inventory is going to look bad until early January.  Anyway, after that everything will look good again. – John


John, funny you mention that.  I look at it just about every day and figured that you were just going through some changes.  I’m curious what you think has gone wrong. – Dale


Dale, we bought too much and sales slowed down.  We were selling 300+ now only around 210ish.  We always have seasonal changes which affect sales.  I predicted that we would be able to buck the trend.  I was wrong.  Still our sales in October was a store record for the month.  Just not what it was in the summer.


The wholesale market also declined so we decided to retail sale through our problem instead of sending them to the auction.  We will be fine.  vAuto homepage will look bad for awhile.  What are your thoughts? – John


John, completely understandable.  The only difference between you and most every other dealer in the world is that you started the recovery process while others have frozen.  Curves in the road are going to occur, the difference is you have the reaction time, and you’re on it. – Dale


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