It Does However Facilitate Good People and Good Process Efforts
A challenge for every organization is to attract, retain and motivate employees. If a company succeeds in doing so, employees work with more passion, energy, and enthusiasm. This translates to an increase in productivity and more profit for the company.
My article last month titled highlighted many of the initial steps a company must take in order to develop relationships with team members and customers. These essential elements included taking stock in people and personality profiling. The latter, personality profiling is a solid incremental step towards fulfilling team and customer synergy. The added element was developing the leadership to construct a building program to increase team member engagement thus, I wanted to do a follow-up on this subject due to its critical importance to any organization that wants to become the best they can be.
The factor to remember is this: real leadership must be shown through example. Keep in mind that the people below you follow your lead and that you have an enormous influence on your employees. They will look up to you for signals on how to behave and what the organization expects from them. One of the many secrets to the successful management of any organization is to be able to articulate a common goal that inspires people to work hard and smart together. Clear, effective and open communication of goals, rules, instructions, and expectations can spell a difference. An old Sicilian proverb says, “Only the spoon knows what is stirring in the pot.” When you allow another person to know what is stirring within you, giving them a “taste” of a plan or idea, you instantly make a meaningful connection with them.
“Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who succeed are those who get inside their players and motivate them.” – Vince Lombardi
Know your team through and through and provide opportunities for growth. The best way for an organization to succeed is to give the employees all the responsibility they can handle and then stand back and let them run. Trusting your employees to do their job well sustains the company. If you corral a racehorse it will eventually develop unused organs atrophy and never race again. Similarly, corralling employees has the same effect. Let them run and do their job. Trust is also a social contract – you have to earn it. Trust is earned when you give it. When people start trusting each other more and more, they stop questioning motives and start to work as one single entity.
Creating trust with an employee or a customer is likened to the age-old analogy of the bank account…. as long as you are putting more into it than you are taking out, you should always avoid being overdrawn. If you take too much out of it without the right balance, then you will end up overdrawn and it will show in the disengagement of your employees and the amount of business you get from your customers.
Encourage the people in your organization to be more results-oriented by opening their minds to new ideas. Have your team bring three good ideas to managers’ meetings. Encourage them to use their imagination to find new ways of doing things. Your employees must learn how to take the initiative. It is also important to remember that sometimes, you need to learn to take calculated risks. Bet on people who think for themselves. By taking a “leap of faith” and trusting that one person can do the job and do it right, you increase his/her self-confidence and make them do their job even better.
In any business, standard operating procedure (SOP) is the rule. It is safe, proven and effective. However, SOP seldom gets outstanding results and distracts people from what is really important. Innovation and progress are realized when you go beyond standard operating procedures. Sometimes, you have to look for new ways to handle old tasks and find new approaches or rules to new problems. If you find the need to change or break a rule you set forth because that rule ends up not making any sense, break it carefully. Remember, there is always room for improvement but think through ideas thoroughly before implementing them.
Good leaders strengthen their organization by building their people and helping them feel good about themselves and their jobs. When this happens, morale and productivity are improved which translates to increased profit for the dealership. Focus on building self-esteem. Show them that you trust and believe in them. Praise them for a job well done. Unity is essential to any organization. If you don’t support each other, the organization will soon encounter critical problems that may be irreparable. Remember the biblical quote from Mark 3:25: “If a house is divided against itself it will fall.” The job of a leader is to assemble the best team possible, train them well, and figure out the best way to get the members to work together for the good of the organization (house).
Fact: People who enjoy and look forward to going to work are more productive and happy.
You can create a positive atmosphere at work by letting people have fun and interact with their colleagues. Having fun at work creates more social glue for the organization. This results in productivity, increases morale, employee engagement, and loyalty.
Sometimes I feel we allow technology to interfere or take the place of relationship development with our team members as well as our customers. I have always said the technology is there only to facilitate good people and good processes. Yes, we must utilize technology but not become so dependent upon it as to lose touch with the human element which is still to this day the catalyst that builds relationships. I feel texting and emailing along with the sundry of technological connectors available is reducing our business to “best price” because we are not taking the time to develop relationships and putting the human element back into our efforts.
My friend, Don Hall, CEO of Virginia Automobile Dealers Association agrees. He recently told me he knows of several Virginia dealers who are not prisoners to Facebook or other social media sites but instead do business the old-fashion way – developing long-term relationships and do quite well year after year.
Last week I had this very conversation with another friend of mine, Dan Kommeth who is the general manager of Performance Lexus in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dan and I share many of the same values when it comes to leadership and the development of good team members. After a few conversations on this subject of technology and relationships Dan sent me his overall take via the following email which I felt you may align with at your store:
It seems as if we in the retail automotive space are bombarded with news articles, vendor pitches and endless phone calls and emails about the latest and greatest piece of technology that will “revolutionize” our industry. These “bright, shiny objects,” as I like to call them, can take one’s attention from what’s really important for success – the people!
Don’t get me wrong, I love new gadgets, apps, and technology that (seemingly) make my home life easier and my work life more efficient and productive. However, when I’m in the office, the technology does not mean that I get to hide in my office pressing buttons to make the next car sale. It may allow me to allocate my time a little better or be more productive in giving me actionable data to improve in-store operations, but it does not replace the human interactions that make so much of a difference in whether we succeed or fail.
Which is why we should probably put more time into the recruiting and hiring process than we do in our search for the latest and greatest piece of technology “guaranteed” to sell 1,000% more cars than we ever previously sold!
Think about it. No one does business with a dealership because of their DMS or CRM system, right? I have never heard a customer say, “Boy, that customer follow-up tool really made a difference in buying a car today.” They say, “I love doing business with ABC Motors because John really takes care of me every time I come to the store, no matter what I need.”
See, the relationship is what’s important to the customer, not the underlying technology. “John” can be made better with the use of technology, but that’s not why he’s successful. He’s successful because he has the right mindset (customer-focused), proper training and positive culture in which he can not only survive but thrive. After all, without the right people, the dealership is really just a big building with a bunch of stuff in it. And that big building does not sell cars, the people do.
So, what is the reality? Too often we see dealerships falter because they bought some new tool that they thought would lead to more sales and increased profits. Let’s say a store buys all-new, top-of-the-line tablets for the salespeople and boost the Wi-Fi system to unheard of level speediness yet sales don’t go up (or worse yet, go down). Dealership management is flummoxed, saying “Jeez, we spent all of this money (and time) to get the salespeople the latest and greatest stuff, but we aren’t seeing a sales lift.” Well, it’s quite easy to see that if the wrong people are holding those tablets, you can spend unlimited amounts of money and never see a difference. However, if you have the right people and give them the right training, they’ll take the organization to the top of the charts!
Of course, this is not to say we should go back to paper-and-pencil systems, but the point is that unless a dealership has an underlying foundation of strong people, no amount of vendors’ “magic pixie dust” is going to lead to higher levels of success. Don’t be fooled by those promising a quick, easy fix to what ails you.
Plus, when the business cycle trends downward (and it will, probably sooner than we all think), what would you rather have – a motivated, well-trained staff that can solve problems for customers or people dependent upon the latest piece of technology to sell a car? I know which one I’d choose. – Dan Kommeth, General Manager,, Performance Lexus
As you can see, Dan has a solid perspective on what we should be looking to do in every store if we want to grow and be successful. It really doesn’t take an MBA to implement and carry out with a valiant discipline. What it does require is the recognition that we could have a better dealership that people would want to come to work for and customers would recognize the inert synergy radiating from our people. This, in turn, creates somewhat of an image in the minds of customers whereby they have zero interest in going to another dealership’s service and/or sales departments to conduct their business. Why? Because we have created a trust-based relationship through our human interactions with them. The BDC didn’t do it, the CRM tool didn’t do it, the DMS didn’t do it, the shiny website didn’t do it, the giant blow-up gorilla didn’t do it, the color-matched balloons didn’t do it, giving the farm away didn’t do it and your good looks didn’t either.
Despite what you’ve read or been taught to this point in your career, it takes more than fortitude and flattery to become great in the relationship business. That’s because establishing high trust with employees and customers is about your ability to develop and maintain loyal relationships, not your propensity for persuasion. And another thing: Trust-based relationships are not about you; it’s about them – the employees, prospects, and clients whom you serve. The fact is that you’ll never be genuinely successful in most professions if you’re self-centered. You can go to the bank on that.
But there’s another thing you can go to the bank on: If you are a trustworthy person running a respectable, reliable sales business, you will succeed in just about any profession… in less time than you think and with much less stress than you’re accustomed to. More than that, with a trust-based relationship on your side you will climb to the top of your industry and remain there.
Author: Chuck Barker
CHUCK BARKER is President & Founder of Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, located in Virginia. He has assisted Dealers & Corporations across the country in Sales & Service Development training programs, Management Leadership Workshops and Business Improvement/Analysis Consulting. He is a pioneer in BDC, CRM, Best Processes and Team Member Development since the early ‘90’s. Chuck has held Automobile, Corporate and International Executive positions for over 27 years. Chuck has been a monthly author/contributor for Dealer Magazine for over 11 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.