A typical day for a dealership employee is guided by their job functions. An example of various job functions are answering the phones, cashiering customers, writing customer repair orders and selling vehicles to customers. Of course if an employee’s primary job function is to write repair orders or sell vehicles and there aren’t currently any customers in the dealership, then secondary job functions are used to fill in the “dead time.”
The problem with most job descriptions is that they don’t have enough productive secondary job functions and they are merely “filler” activities between waiting for the next customer to come in or call. My boss used to say, “If there is time to lean, then there is time to clean” which meant that as an F&I manager if I wasn’t doing anything, then I should be walking around the showroom making sure brochures were organized and any empty coffee cups or pop cans made their way to the trash. Although, it was a noble cause for me to keep the dealership tidy, I was a rather expensive janitor. Wouldn’t it be better if you took a look at each person’s job description to find ways to fill their down time with tasks that are profit focused?
What is the difference between a task and a job function? A task is an activity that needs to be accomplished within a defined period of time or by a deadline with a specific purpose or outcome. For example, when you have a task for salespeople to contact all customers who purchased three years ago this month, they should contact all August 2009 customers by September 1. There needs to be a need to know the purpose of contacting the customer, like is it to find out when they might be ready to buy again and/or how their driving needs have changed. You can see how this “task” is much more defined that a job function of “providing customer follow-up.”
For a service advisor, a job function of “maintaining excellent customer satisfaction” might be to contact every customer by 4 p.m. to let them know the status of their vehicle. Even the accounting office can transform their old job functions into tasks.
This month, I’ll be discussing in my Digital Dealer Webinar on Thursday, August 23 at 11:30 a.m. EST, 10:30 a.m. CENTRAL, 8:30 a.m. PACIFIC, “Creating a Task-based Accounting Office,” (click here for more information on this webinar) how you can use technology to track the 300-plus tasks that an accounting office must perform and how to classify your office staff by their skill level. Although job functions are useful to define the general parameters of an employee’s responsibilities, it is easy to see why some employees miss deadlines. A job function that says to accurately complete payroll tax returns might not be specific enough as four tasks generated to file Form 941 by each due date. In addition, it is hard to evaluate if all job functions are being performed, but with a specific task list it is easy to see when it was last done and who performed the task.
How do you become a task-based dealership? The first step is a simple analysis your job descriptions. Make sure that the employee has a primary job function that is profit driven. Look at the other job functions and try to make them more defined and task-based. There is no harm in transforming your one or two page job descriptions into pages of tasks if the end result is an employee that knows exactly what is expected. Your goal is for the employee to keep track of these tasks daily, weekly, and monthly and never miss a deadline or opportunity for a sale.