“The best sales process in the world is worthless without accountability,” according to John Fairchild of Fairchild Automotive Solutions. “If you don’t inspect it, you can’t expect it,” he continued.
I met Fairchild a couple of months ago at one of our mutual dealership clients. I was struck by his passion, his energy, and his ability to quickly diagnose problems while seamlessly moving toward solutions.
As a high-performance fixed ops coach, Fairchild is committed to implementing service drive processes that lead to increased service sales. But more importantly, he realizes that accountability is a critical component in overall service sales success. In fact, he puts as much emphasis on accountability as he does the service sales process.
If you are in a management or leadership position, you already know the importance of accountability…AND you know it’s the hardest part of your job. Most folks have spurts of accountability, but consistent accountability…I’m talking about day-in-day-out, like-your-life-depended-on-it accountability… is hard.
“Accountability isn’t a four-letter word; it doesn’t mean micromanaging, nagging, being an ogre, or acting parental to your employees.”
Have you ever considered that sporadic, occasional accountability may be worse for your employees than having no accountability at all? For example, management says “thou shalt,” but the employees don’t…and there are no consequences. In a short time the employees realize the manager barks a lot, but he doesn’t have any teeth.
Meanwhile, the manager mutters about his worthless employees never following his processes and directions. (Of course he never teaches, coaches, or mentors his team on how to succeed. He is way too busy for that.) He internalizes his frustration; then one day it bubbles to the surface and he erupts like Old Faithful. Heads roll and someone gets fired. Everyone suddenly gets religion and becomes good soldiers for a couple of days—and then the pattern starts all over again.
Now, don’t get all smug and pious on me. You’ve seen this happen at your dealership, too, haven’t you?
Accountability isn’t a four-letter word; it doesn’t mean micromanaging, nagging, being an ogre, or acting parental to your employees. It is simply communicating your expectations, teaching them your processes, monitoring their performance, and coaching them on how to achieve greater outcomes. Simple, right? Hardly.
But why is accountability so hard? Could it be because in order to effectively have the moral high ground to hold others accountable, you must first hold yourself accountable?
“Do what I say, not what I do” is an absurd leadership mantra. The Apostle Paul said it like this: “The things you have seem in me, do.” It’s called leading by example. If you don’t, your credibility is shot.
So, what is Fairchild’s solution?
- Sales Process
First he implements a three-fold sales process:
- Sell repairs and maintenance related to the primary customer concern.
- Sell service needed immediately to address safety issues and avoid expensive catastrophic failure.
- Sell maintenance services that are due now based on mileage or inspection.
- Monitoring Process
Fairchild has designed an uncomplicated, uncluttered sales report so managers and advisors can see how they’re doing compared with everyone else. The report focuses on customer-pay sales performance—nothing else. Since the primary job of an advisor is to sell service, Fairchild’s report cuts to the chase.
- Accountability Process
While this is the most important of the three processes, it doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming. In fact, if your advisors have a competitive spirit (or an ego) then the sales report will go a long way in creating a culture of self-accountability.
Jim Norton and David Croteau have recently built a state-of-the-art Chevrolet dealership in the Tulsa, Oklahoma suburb of Broken Arrow. The place is beautiful. It’s bright, it’s inviting, it’s customer-friendly, and the building is designed to create a synergy between sales and service. Joe Gibson, fixed operations director, and Kyle Thompson, service manager, have embraced the selling, monitoring, and accountability process.
In short, it works!
In February, the advisors sold 771 fluid maintenance services; in March, that number jumped to 942 services. All of the advisors have access to the sales report and they can see how their numbers are stacking up to everyone else’s.
Senior service advisor Russell Pearson is “all in” with the process. He had sales of $192,000 in December, $183,000 in January, and $177,000 in February. (To put that in perspective, he used to average $125,000 monthly—which isn’t bad. But now he’s really on fire!)
Fairchild monitors the dealership’s performance and sends weekly updates to management and advisors. Additionally, he visits the dealership several times a year to “inspect” what he “expects.”
Hats off to the staff, managers, and owners of Jim Norton Chevrolet for implementing an effective sales process, making the sales reports available to everyone, and holding everyone accountable to perform!
Happy sales to you!
Author: Charlie Polston
Charlie Polston is an Automotive Customer Retention and Profitability Consultant with BG Products, Inc. Charlie has been with BG’s Fixed Operations Division for over 34 years.