How to Become Differently Better

May 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Don Reed - Also by this author

I just finished reading an article where an industry expert predicts a downturn in U.S. new vehicle sales from about 16 million units in 2007 to about 15 million units in 2008, which is about a 6 percent decline. If your dealership’s new vehicle unit sales decline by another 6 percent, what does that mean to your bottom line? For those of you who own a franchise that is also losing market share, the decline is even greater. Chances are your bottom line is heading in the wrong direction. So, what can you do about it?

The answer is to become differently better. Is that a catchy phrase or what? Differently simply means that you are willing to change—change for the better. All of us have probably heard a variation of the definition of insanity: “I’m going to continue to do what I’ve always done, and I expect to get different results.” Obviously if you expect to achieve different results this year, you must start doing different things, as well as doing things differently. Agreed? Okay, so how are you going to get started becoming differently better?

To better understand this concept, let’s consider the strategy that is used in most professional sports. Recently, a professional football team fired their general manager and hired a professional coach to assume that position who then fired the team’s coach. He intended to turn around the team and needed a turnaround coach.

What does a turnaround coach do that his predecessor didn’t do. First, he evaluates the past performance of the team, as well as every player. Then,he must evaluate the talent, weaknesses and strengths, of every player and coach. Now it’s time for him to become differently better by getting rid of the underachievers and start recruiting top performers. He then installs new plays and strategies, both on offense and defense, that he believes will turn around the performance of his team. Many of these new plays and strategies come from his past experience, and he knows they are successful. Others come from observing (scouting) the most successful teams in the league and copying what they do. More often than not, the turnaround coach or general manager will succeed in turning a losing team into a winner.

Do you see any similarities here in your dealership? Is your team winning or losing? Simply put, winning would mean your profits are going up and losing would mean your profits are going down. How does your first quarter of the New Year look so far? If your profits are going down, shouldn’t you consider doing something about it? If your showroom traffic is down and your service traffic from Warranty and Customer Pay is down then here is a news flash—“Your customers don’t like you very much.” Maybe they don’t like your product or your people. It could be your location or your hours of operation, or just maybe they don’t like your processes. In other words, they might not like the way you treat them or they feel unappreciated since you don’t follow up with them regularly to give them reasons to come back. Wouldn’t this be a great time to become differently better and turnaround your dealership’s performance through process improvement (i.e. training)?

Here are some differently better process improvements for you to consider implementing in your service department starting today:

  • The dress code for service advisors is the same as your salespeople.
  • The dress code for service managers/directors is the same as your sales managers.
  • Service advisors should not eat in front of their customers.
  • Service advisors should not answer the phone if they’re with another customer.
  • Service managers/directors should greet all customers during the morning rush.
  • Service advisors’ should review the Three C’s with every customer.
  • Deliver the customer’s vehicle to them at the original write up area.
  • Set the customer’s next appointment before they leave.
  • Require all salespeople to introduce every sales prospect to the service advisors after the demo ride.
  • Ask all used car buyers for their service business.
  • Have your service manager/director inventory all equipment for needed repairs.
  • Require all service advisors, appointment coordinators and BDC personnel to offer an appointment to every incoming service call.
  • Phone shop every service advisor once a week.
  • Require your service manager/director to call all no shows.
  • Measure the performance of your technicians daily.
  • Measure the performance of your service advisors daily.
  • Hold every employee accountable for performance.
  • Have a consequence for poor performance.
  • Stop tolerating underachievers.
  • Start recruiting top performers.

Now, let’s tally up how much all of these new differently better processes are going to increase your expenses. How about nothing?! You will, however, have to invest some courage and discipline. These Top 20 differently better processes are available to you starting today. Wouldn’t you agree these processes could help turn around your service and sales performance, CSI, ESI and owner retention? I hope you said “yes” because all of these are being used every day by the most profitable dealers. How did the best in the business get that way? They recruit top performers, learn from their competition, and at one time or another probably hired a turnaround coach.

All you need to get started is a commitment to change your attitude towards servicing your customers. Become differently better starting today and your customers will return again and again with their checkbooks and credit cards in hand.

Vol 5, Issue 3

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