In our previous communications we frequently talked about the significance of process in a car dealership. We all know about and have policy manuals that collect dust on a shelf or just reside somewhere on a web-site. Policies are the road map to the grocery store to buy the fish. When you run out you have to go again. Processes on the other hand are the instructions to learning how to fish so that you can stop buying it each time you are hungry.
While most management styles do not at all develop processes or don’t really know how, their day to day operations are really at the mercy of their management staff. The vicious cycle is that high turnover is caused by lack of processes and lack of processes cause the turnover. What I mean by that is most dealerships are run at the direction of their key management. Usually when a new general manager takes over all of a sudden processes start taking new direction and you start all over again. In fact this happens at every management level when the general sales managers or even the sales managers are replaced. You start all over again. Your sales staff gets confused since they are now told that they have to do things differently than they have been doing which obviously was all wrong according to the new manager. This is when the turnover starts; sales staff either leaves or gets fired only to be replaced by new people who are all brought on by the new manager. While it is less impactful this happens in every department. Service managers come in and now service drive process gets reshaped, new service advisors are hired and technicians decide to leave.
So the question is who is really in charge? If every manager who comes along changes the rules, the process and the staff, what controls do you really have over your business. We allow this because of lack of fundamental process development in most dealerships. The end result is owners get taken hostage by their key management and become concerned that they might pick up and leave and take everyone else with them if they end up in a conflict. Processes are not management styles that should come and go as you change managers. For every business there are specific circumstances, various experiences and interdepartmental connections which all play a role in developing processes. Therefore it is never and should not be a matter of change of management styles when you have a new key manager in place. This is one of the most critical areas today at a retail store that causes deficiencies, chaos and employee turnover and anyone hardly pays attention to it.
There are certain guidelines that need to be followed when developing processes. First thing to identify is to qualify the need for a process development for specific tasks. This is usually determined by problems surfacing as a result of complaints, inefficiencies or even legal exposure. In every department, decision makers need to test their model by asking simple questions such as “Where does it hurt?” to themselves and to their employees in order to determine if a process development is needed for a specific task. Then the process itself is labeled, its benefits are listed and all of the staff who will either be following or benefiting from this process would be involved in authoring it. It is then either compiled in a manual in printed format or is posted at a specific web-site where employees can access. This allows a dealership to become consistent with the way their ways of conducting business, develops skills, improves employee efficiencies and assigns accountability to those who helped develop it in the first place. When you hire new people instead of changing processes to conform to the new management style, you offer orientation to the new comers to adapt to your proven processes. Managers will then contribute with their leadership skills and their individual performances as it relates to giving direction to your staff rather than rewrite the constitution each time after someone new wins the election.
January 2019 may just prove to be the worst retail sales month of the past 5 years. The rest of the year is not going to be a rose garden either. I keep repeating like a broken record that now is the time to button up your operations. Process development is one of those key issues that as an owner I suggest you put your arms around. While employee participation is crucial, championing each of these events is your utmost responsibility and the key to your success.
While this will all relate to employee retention to a great extent, organizational culture development along the same lines will connect the dots between personal goals and objectives with that of organizational vision and define a collective purpose. This of course is also Imperative to transform your businesses from a metal mover to a relationship focused environment to insure customer loyalty and create customers for life.
It’s time to look at auto retailing under a new light with a new vision if you want to take on the challenges of the next decade of car business. All of the above will greatly matter along with digitized and innovative marketing strategies, embracing virtual and augmented reality technologies into your sales process, controlling and maximizing service department capacity and efficiencies and last but not least building an efficient used car department that utilizes all high tech tools available to stay competitive. Sooner you realize that new car sales are no longer going to cut it the faster you will get ahead of the challenges.
We at Convergent Alliance have developed the most effective workshops to provide process development skills, organizational culture initiatives and service capacity improvement tools that are unmatched by the industry. Give us a shout.