Entrepreneurial leadership has never been more important in business than it is right now! Entrepreneurial Leaders need to be developing great people, teamwork, hiring practices, smoother processes, better profit pictures and enhanced customer relationship experiences. Positive emotion creates positive motion. And, when you engender positive motion, positive things begin to happen like everyone begins looking in the same direction instead of at each other.
When driving at night, you must rely and trust upon your headlights and your ability to guide yourself to your destination. You can actually drive from Maine to Key West at night if you trust in the small steps to get you there by relying upon your headlights. In doing so, we usually spend more time looking through the windshield and not the rear view mirror. Looking forward step by step with positive and encouraging leadership day after day will create new ground from which your team can stand upon with confidence! Sure, in the past there are old, bad experiences which sometimes drive our thoughts and decisions regarding new opportunities. Again, keep your eyes off of the rear view mirror. Letting go of the past is very important because every new experience should not have to go through that same “past bad experience filter” or it will hamper your growth going forward. As a leader you must guide the direction of your team and create faith that the processes, team member development and new ideas you implement will indeed lead the team to the right destination.
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”—Babe Ruth (1895-1948).
So many things clamor for our attention day to day but few deserve it more than the development and engagement of our team members. They deserve nothing less than our undivided attention, as it relates to helping them become the best professionals they can be. We all face challenges, we all have obstacles to overcome. But if we can keep the right perspective, it will help us stay positive so that we can move forward into better business and a better life. You may feel right now like the challenges that you face are too big, or too overwhelming. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that average people have average problems. Ordinary people have ordinary challenges. But remember, you can choose not be average. Choose not to be ordinary. Choose to be extraordinary. Keeping the faith and remaining positive with positive initiatives can and will create exceptional opportunities, and exceptional people do face exceptional difficulties. When you have an incredible problem, instead of being discouraged, you should be encouraged knowing that you’re an incredible person and you have an incredible future. Your path is shining brighter and brighter because when you are faced with exceptional problems it only means that you can handle it because you are an exceptional leader. So, turn those crises into opportunities.
Be encouraged today because your life and that of your team’s can be on an extraordinary path. Sure there will be potholes in the road but by keeping a positive outlook you will have shock absorbers to weaken the bumps as they present themselves. Choosing to be extraordinary simply means that you are choosing to add the word “extra” in front of ordinary. That is the secret, always be choosing to do something extra and watch the difference it makes. OK, so what are some of the extra things you can do right now? Begin by ensuring that the following areas are fulfilled by your leadership on a very regular basis:
1. As we all know, a lot of dealerships out there have experienced attrition of professionals on staff. Sometimes that is OK in my book because we no longer (if ever) need a battalion of sales people to cover the floor and associated sales efforts. But, what we certainly need more than ever right now is a Delta Force or Navy Seal team who are highly trained, skilled and disciplined in their “extra” efforts. Yes, this means you have to exhibit disciplined, well thought out, consistent training programs that are far removed from the old school principles by replacing them with the new communications, negotiations and process derivatives. You will also have to invest a little money to bring some of these new initiatives but you will most certainly derive an enhanced ROI on those investments. In addition, this investment in your greatest assets; your people, will build engaged teamwork, morale and a sense of purpose. It will also eliminate the wishing and hoping strategy I see some dealers defaulting to. One cannot administer with negative influences and expect a positive result so treat your team members with respect and professionalism while leaving any baggage at the door. Simple physics.
Remember Zig Zigglar’s quote; “The only thing worse than training people and having them leave your employment is not training them and having them stay.” How true.
2. Studies have shown that 30% of your customer base knows of someone who is going to purchase a new or pre-owned vehicle within the next three to six months. Formulate a disciplined, proactive approach in contacting your entire owner base by making sure that your salespeople contact a minimum of five owners every day. A little plus a little equals a lot. Carving it down to a daily to-do list of making five owner base contacts (leaving a message on an answering machine does not constitute contact) makes it manageable and feasible. As a leader you must track the results daily with your salespeople and even get involved in a few calls. What your team says to these owner based customers is more important than making the call itself. Make sure they are up to speed on the new owner base call techniques and phone guides or they will be wasting their time saying the same old things like “How’s your Odyssey doing”? You may have team members who tell you the owner has only had the vehicle 6 months. Yes, that may be correct but what about the “other” vehicles in his household? Son going to college in September needs a truck, wife’s car got totaled and needs a replacement? If your team is regularly staying in touch and further developing the Owner Base relationship who do you think that customer is going to call next time a vehicular need arises? Opportunities have to be mined. Again, invest in honing your Navy Seal’s training for reconnaissance and combat skills, and the rewards will pale the costs.
3. Who is taking care of your orphan owners whose salesperson has moved on to another dealership? Just like the owner base initiative, you must include this avenue of business. These often simply run off the radar because in most cases, no one is loving on them like a valued Owner. The problem I have seen is that dealers will just print out these orphans, pass them around to the salespeople and have them contact them. If you have developed a Delta squad and trained them with orphan techniques and phone guides to make this call you are alright. Most have not and the calls are mostly wasted. What we have implemented in the past and works extremely well is we print out all the orphans, place them in a three ring binder, label the spine “Orphan Owner Opportunities” and not just when things are slow but every day hand it to your best phone skill driven salespeople and have them contact the orphans. The real key here is to know what and how to deliver this conversation’s message and building value in the call by making tremendous deposits in their emotional bank account. This can and does deliver great results and your ROI will be dramatic.
4. Most dealerships spend all of their energy tracking showroom, phone up, follow-up, internet information and then they fail to USE the information properly. How can you best place the information to use immediately? Daily Work Plans, daily/weekly/monthly goal and objective setting. Then inspect the process often. Don’t become caught up in analysis paralysis. Real leadership takes the information, makes the navigational plans with the team to make sure you arrive where you need and want to be.
If you were navigating your boat off shore in South Florida heading to the Caribbean and your compass was off just one degree you could end up in the middle of the ocean somewhere never to be seen again. Your business is the same way. One degree off here and one degree off there could mean: “There lies dismal trouble ahead.” Your store could be one degree off of the proper development of your team members, maybe one degree off developing new processes or enhancing customer relationships. Whatever the heading, always make sure you know where you want to head, and the best possible solution for getting there. No short-cuts because this is usually the longest way to solution solving and there are no shortcuts to any place worth going, so do it right. If you are not certain of the what, where and how to do things – get some professional assistance to help you navigate the best possible course for you and your team’s success.
We could camp out on this subject for a couple of days but I am running out of space for this article. I think I will pick this up again next month and hopefully you can find a couple of elements that you perhaps have overlooked to make your store and your people stronger. If you cannot wait till then feel free to send me an email and we can discuss other things you can do right now to tighten up your ship’s direction. Also, if you have a couple a good ideas to move the compass needle I would love to hear from you.
Remember you have to consistently exhibit faith in your leadership and be clear about how you and your team are going to find safe harbor. Sure, there will be storms and turbulent seas but remember “Calm seas never made a skilled navigator.” Go ahead and do something extra. It is just a 5 letter word you put in front of ordinary that will impact with so much influence on your success you will wonder why you have not done it before.