Dealer Dan Roseland's Sonoma Chevrolet made it through the storm of the last two years. But Roseland says he's been "permanently reprogrammed" by the ordeal.
For those dealerships that survived, "we're all stronger for it, and it will definitely pay off," said Roseland, who saw revenue at his northern California store drop by almost 40 percent.
Roseland says his expense management will be better because he will never forget the days in 2008 and 2009 when he wasn't sure the business would survive. He made severe cost reductions: slashing staff, cutting health insurance, eliminating the daily cleaning crew.
Roseland dumped trash and cleaned toilets, setting the tone for his remaining employees who responded by cleaning up after themselves. That served as an effective management tactic that can be replicated in other areas.
"They saw me cleaning," Roseland said, "and it's so easy to manage when you do it by example."