Article

Take Control Of Your Dealership This Year

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jeff Smelley - Also by this author

As you progress into the New Year, how do you intend to improve your business? This is a question every dealer should spend time contemplating. More to the point, thought should be given to this topic regularly. Do you need to increase sales, increase gross per deal, expand staff, negotiate better financing, examine expenses, make investments or just maintain the status quo? When thinking of the future, you need to consider the following topics: financial, personnel, facilities, marketing and administrative planning. Create a road map for improving your dealership and then start your trip. The first step is to accurately assess where you are now. Next you need to decide where you want to go, and then determine how you intend to get there.
Assessing your current situation requires being brutally honest with yourself. What are your dealership’s strengths and weaknesses? Are gross profits sufficient to sustain your dealership in the slowest months? Is your funding adequate to provide the inventory necessary to increase sales? Do you really have sufficient personnel to provide quality service to your customers? Are your facilities holding you back or helping you? How do you intend to attract new customers? Can your staff, equipment and related infrastructure support additional sales? Don’t get frustrated if initially there are more questions than answers, as you have just proven the necessity of planning by identifying areas requiring your attention.
 
Now that you have determined where you are, where do you wish to be? In determining your goals, define them clearly and examine the inter-relationship between each goal. Obviously you can’t increase staff, inventory, facilities, etc. if funding is inadequate to support the expansion. More inventory isn’t possible without the facilities to handle it.

During your goal setting, keep an eye on requirements but don’t worry about the details of how to accomplish each goal. Stay focused on what needs to happen, not how it will happen.

Therefore, you should always look first at the improvements that can be made the quickest and that will provide the biggest boost to productivity. Maybe it’s training for your existing staff or realigning responsibilities to balance the work load. Maybe it’s eliminating discretionary expenses or budgeting your spending to provide for growth. Maybe it’s reviewing your financial statements for accuracy and adequacy before pursuing funding. Whatever the answer, how will achieving this goal help you to achieve the next goal?

Once you have your goals in order, you must decide how you intend to achieve each goal. Starting at the beginning write down any and ALL ideas about how each goal can be achieved. Review your list of possibilities and rank them high to low for effectiveness and achievability. You have just completed your to do list. Take your to do list and make your best estimate as to when it can be completed. Be sure to assign a realistic time frame for accomplishing each task individually and a means by which you will know it has been accomplished. Remember you can’t do everything at once and it can’t all be done by tomorrow. Creating this timeline of progress towards your long range goals will give you positive proof of progress. The final step in creating your road map is to delegate these tasks to your staff. In delegating you should keep in mind the ability of each staff member to accomplish the task successfully.

Time to implement The Plan. Gather your staff and share your findings. Review your assessment of the current situation in a positive manner, emphasizing that a better working environment and working life is on the way. Tell them what your goals are for the dealership and the benefits they will derive as you achieve your goals. It is important at this point that your staff understand your commitment to your plan and that they are important in the achievement of your goals. Meet individually with each staff member to delegate the specific tasks you have assigned to them. Discuss how they will carry out their task, define the successful result and expected completion time.

I have always found that if you set your goals high, let those involved know what you expect of them and make sure they have the tools necessary for success, people will exceed your expectations almost every time. Good luck and have an exciting year.

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