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OK So ‘Bama didn’t win their championship against Clemson this year.  One thing most people will agree on though is if Saban is at the helm of The Crimson Tide the odds are more likely that they will be back in the championship game than perhaps any other college team.

There’s still a lot to learn from a guy who consistently wins in one of the most competitive environments that exists.

No one can argue with his record.

  • 5 National Championships.
  • 112 wins with 13 losses in the last 9 years at Alabama.

There are people that say he learned his ‘process’ from Bill Belichick while at the Cleveland Browns, but consider this quote from Belichick himself, “We talk on a pretty regular basis,” says Belichick. “If I ask Nick a question and he says, ‘Well, this is how we do it,’ then I usually just cut to where he is and take that shortcut and say, ‘Okay, we’re going to do it this way.’ I know that he’s already gone through all the stages of thinking it through, and I would rather just get to the stage that he’s at rather than waste the time figuring that I’m going to end up at that same point anyway.”

In other words, Belichick copies Nick Saban.

Saban’s ‘process’ works but is hard to define.  

Some of his players say it’s just a “mental thing.”  One reporter said if you could bottle it, it would be “priceless.”

We are all about helping our clients win, and we don’t think it’s that mysterious afterall.

It all can be traced back to one specific moment actually.  A key moment prior to a game Saban coached on one side of arguably the biggest rivalry in sports history this side of U.S.A. vs U.S.S.R. Hockey.   Michigan State vs The Ohio State University.

Michigan was unranked.

Ohio?  Ohio was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country.

During practice, Saban told his team they weren’t going to worry about the outcome.  What everyone focuses on – the score and winning – they were going to completely forget about that.  Instead, they would treat every play as a separate football game all by itself.  Each play was to be its own time-capsule.  What happened the play before did not matter.  That was a separate game.  They were only going to focus on executing each play, by itself, as flawlessly as they could.  Period.  Not the score.  Not the last play.  Just this play, and then the next by itself until the end of the game and go home content with doing their best.

What happened?

The players played with more passion, confidence, and fun than they Saban said he ever saw them play before.  They were loose.  It didn’t look like they were playing the No. 1 team in the country.  They went on to come from behind in a huge upset and beat The Ohio State University 28-24.

From then on Saban stopped talking about winning or championships.  He doubled down on his one-thing-at-a-time process-oriented approach.

“I’m not naive enough to think winning isn’t important,” says Saban. “But what that game made me realize is how much better it is for people not to worry about the opposition but to focus on executing and know if they do their job correctly they’re going to be successful, rather than thinking the other guy’s going to determine the outcome.”

As a matter of fact, Saban now refers to talk about championships and conference standings as “clutter.”

You can’t win a championship before you learn how to block extremely well.

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Every player has his own rebellion against the process but eventually finds his own unique way to buy into it.  The upperclassman are true evangelists spouting some of Saban’s favorite sayings, “Be where your feet are.  Do your job.  Dominate your box.  Keep chopping wood.”

But to get a true idea of Saban’s famed ‘process’ one only need to watch the man himself in action.  Fortune Editor Brian O’Keefe sat down with him over lunch in his office and watched as he picked up a remote-control-looking device, pressed a button, and the door to his office shut.  Saban explained he saved 10 seconds. Not a big win, but significant.  Seconds add up to minutes over the year, which combined with other things adds up to hours more Saban can spend on football, courting recruits, and watching film.

Saban eats the same thing for lunch every day – salad with sliced turkey.  Decision made.  When a routine happens and you are focusing on dominating your box and not being distracted by the outcome, you find slight edges to exploit.  By contrast, Saban sees new players re-learn each day where they lazily took off their shoes.  That’s not taking advantage of the fact that you did this yesterday and you’ll do it again tomorrow.

Just how sophisticated is this country boy from West Virginia that coaches at one of the most conservative states in the Union?

  • Saban has a psychological evaluation done on each player so he knows how to motivate each individual.  No “I” team?
  • Saban had his players take improv acting classes because he noticed they were not communicating effectively.
  • Saban’s players practice karate to help them block and deflect on the field more effectively.
  • Saban and his player’s practice Pilates to improve their core strength and agility.

Perhaps the winningest coach of all-time, John Wooten, would start every season at the first practice teaching each player, even the seniors who had gone through it three times previously, how to tie their shoes.  He would take them step-by-step through the UCLA way of tying shoes.  Bill Walton said they just knew they were going to dominate a team when they came out for warm-ups and their warm-up routine was sloppy and undisciplined.

That’s the process.

Tying your shoes?  Is that a big win?  What good is it if you are in a championship game and your star trips over his shoelaces?  Every championship UCLA won (10) could be attributed to the fact that none of his players tripped on their shoelaces during critical plays on top of thousands of other tiny wins that went unseen.

Tying your shoes is the concrete that makes up the insurmountable fortress.  Exploiting tiny edges will eventually accumulate like drops in a mighty tidal wave.

Application to Specialty Dealers

This article perfectly describes why we build Dealer Accelerate (DA) Dealer Management System (DMS).  (Not to mention Auction Accelerate, and our Private Collection process. )

This article also perfectly explains why we are constantly tweaking the software to improve it and find small edges we can exploit for our clients.

The ultimate goal of DA is to make our clients faster, more profitable, and more efficient at every step of the process.   Whether it’s your receptionist who answers the phone and can assign tasks to other individuals or to inventory items or a mechanic that can log maintenance notes for inventory – it’s all designed to make you a hyper performance dealer.  

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