“When all is said and done, there is usually more said than done!”
I’ve been attending the NADA Annual Convention and Trade Show for over 10 years. It’s always a time to renew friendships, network with other automotive professionals, get motivated, get refocused, and learn something new. On a related subject, I’ve been reading automotive trade publications for over 30 years to make sure I’m on the cutting edge of industry trends and current statistics. The articles are filled with a vast amount of information, best practices, case studies, and success stories.
Let me start by saying that this article is NOT a criticism of NADA workshops, Twenty Groups, or trade magazines. (After all, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of teaching many of the NADA workshops and writing a monthly article for the leading automotive industry magazine.) Rather than a criticism of workshop content or magazine topics, this article is more an observation of human nature.
Here are just a few of the themes and processes and ideas I heard at NADA:
Do a walk-around with every customer
Follow up on all declined work
Confirm appointments 24 hours in advance
Make a menu presentation every time
Conduct a thorough multi-point inspection on every car
Review the inspection form with every vehicle owner
Sell needed maintenance and repair that the tech found during the inspection process
Rather than having a back parts counter, deliver parts to the techs
Recapture market share lost to independent garages
Structure service advisor pay plans based on sales production
Differentiate between OEM-required services and dealer-recommended services
Hold techs accountable
Hold advisors accountable
Inspect what you expect
Mentoring and coaching are better leadership styles than yelling and threatening
Fixed operations has more influence on customer retention than any other department
All of these things came from workshop handouts, magazine articles, and my personal notes that I learned in 2005…ten years ago! Don’t get me wrong; these are all great ideas. They are all profit-makers, they all improve CSI, and they all improve retention. They work. But they only work if applied. Knowledge doesn’t produce results; action produces results.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. -John 13:17
To be fair, in workshops it’s good to be reminded why you’re following a certain process. It’s good to be encouraged that you’re doing the right thing—and to be encouraged to keep on doing it. It’s good to know you’re not the only one that struggles with sustaining a program.
The digital age has changed the way we deliver the message, but it hasn’t changed the message. I’ve seen lazy managers try to use technology to drive processes, but with limited success. Technology will not drive processes. First, you must implement the process and hold the technicians and advisors accountable to follow the process. Processes drive technology, not the other way around.
Social media, networking, and the internet are effective marketing tools, but only human beings can get the deal done. Tablet PCs, iPads, and smart phones are great sales tools on the service drive, but it still requires one person asking another person to buy in order to make the sale.
Technology cannot mentor, coach, encourage, or lead…only people can do that. Technology can be used to train your team, but only you can manage them.
You can’t outsource accountability. Yes, it’s painful and gut-wrenching to hold people accountable, but it’s necessary and the results are sweet. Accountability is not a four-letter word. If you stick to your convictions, your people will comply and ultimately thank you and respect you.
There is no elevator to success. There is no silver bullet computer program that will increase your gross. There is no magic pill to raise shop efficiency. There’s not a Staples “Easy Button” to turn your advisors into service sales gurus. Success, higher gross, greater shop efficiency, and the creation of a sales culture on your service drive are all within your grasp. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. After all, that’s why they call it work!
Strategic planning, vision casting, and team building are glamorous and sexy. Rolling up your sleeves and getting it done can sometimes be rather boring. Creating and implementing a new process is dynamic, but following the process on every car, every time can get a little monotonous.
Knowing (by that I mean learning) can be fun, doing (by that I mean producing) can be really hard work. The battle plan is formulated in the board room, but the battle is fought in the trenches where it is messy, and muddy, and bloody.
My charge to you, my earnest plea, is to ask you to do what you know and see that your team members do what they know. Job security is ultimately defined as the ability to produce. Production—getting the job done—trumps everything else. After everything has been said and done, there is more said than done. Don’t let that happen at your dealership.