Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: New Car, General Mgt

Identify the Problem Solvers in your Dealership

By Ron Henson on Feb 28, 2013

When was the last time that you walked onto your showroom and saw that gathering of sales consultants standing around in the "Ring of Despair" and thought to yourself, "I'll bet that's a productive and uplifting conversation?"

Truth is that there are Problem Causers (yes, I know that's not a word) & Problem Solvers in every business in America.  Car Dealerships are certainly no exception and I submit that the Problem Causers seem to gravitate toward car dealerships for some uncanny reason.  

As a leader, should your valuable time be spent putting out the fires caused by Problem Causers or fostering the growth and goodwill generated by Problem Solvers?  The answer seems quite clear at first blush, but the execution of the concept gets a little tricky.  We all know that misery loves company so unless you have a sales staff loaded with high performers and the bottom guy on the totem pole is still rocking 18 units per month, you may have a few of these Problem Causers on staff.

I like the saying, "Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions."  

Many of your most influential employees in your dealership today may not have the word manager in their title.  Seek these people out!  Interview your management team and your employee base and find out who these non-management leaders are and tell them that you appreciate their efforts.  Tell them how much it means to you that they foster an environment of positivity in your business and ask them to continue to spread it throughout the organization.  You can spend countless hours finding people doing things wrong, but if you go looking for people doing things right and mentor them and coach them on helping others to do the same, your day will be much more productive and your attitude and mood will certainly benefit.

Be the leader that you would want to have and watch the results.  Now it doesn't happen overnight, but it will happen.  The "Dope Ring" will start to erode and the Problem Causers will start to drift away toward other dealerships that are much less successful and creative than yours.  They will go find the cancerous, negative environment that they crave and your store will be the better for it.

Move some metal!

Comments

Great article! Thank you for sharing.

Mar 1, 2013

My pleasure Roger. I'm glad you liked it.

Mar 4, 2013

Ah yes, the pity party. Managing many Sales professionals over 32 years in the automotive industry, these gatherings are cancerous. Over the years, I have put the "Gung Ho' of the month award. My idea stems from the book, Gung Ho? By Ken Blanchard/Kevin Bowles and that I have a strong belief in its message. I rolled this out in a few phases. Phase #1, I purchased 5 of these easy read books. I then asked my whole team (Sale-Service-Parts-Office) to read the book and give me their thoughts. In turn, I would reward them with a bonus tchotchke. (You choose the bonus). Phase #2, I introduced the "First Friday" awards meetings, where I bought lunch for the whole store and introduced the "Gung Ho" of the month recipient. The department heads would vote and pick one person, who went out of their way, to do something special. This could range from, helping a customer over and above to picking up trash on the lot, which typically would lay there for weeks before the wind blew it into the parking lot next door. Phase #3, during these meetings, we would announce the winner and present the winner with a $200 gift card and an award they could take home, but must bring back the next day so it could be prominently hung on a wall in the facility. I would also hand out a $50 runner up award. It was amazing what this did to my facility. I had sales people reporting to me, what they did over and above in efforts. Office personnel, who looked to price shop common use items to reduce overhead and lot attendants who would finish cleaning the inventory and weed around my office windows to get attention. It had such a positive effect on reducing negativity and stopping those pity parties while building a "Total Team" effort. Phase #4, anyone who made a mistake or did something negative would be consulted in private using two managers (HR preferred) and myself in the conversation. Never, and I mean never allow reprimand in front of their peers. Randall at

Mar 4, 2013

Ah yes, the pity party. Managing many Sales professionals over 32 years in the automotive industry, these gatherings are cancerous. Over the years, I have put the "Gung Ho' of the month award. My idea stems from the book, Gung Ho? By Ken Blanchard/Kevin Bowles and that I have a strong belief in its message. I rolled this out in a few phases. Phase #1, I purchased 5 of these easy read books. I then asked my whole team (Sale-Service-Parts-Office) to read the book and give me their thoughts. In turn, I would reward them with a bonus tchotchke. (You choose the bonus). Phase #2, I introduced the "First Friday" awards meetings, where I bought lunch for the whole store and introduced the "Gung Ho" of the month recipient. The department heads would vote and pick one person, who went out of their way, to do something special. This could range from, helping a customer over and above to picking up trash on the lot, which typically would lay there for weeks before the wind blew it into the parking lot next door. Phase #3, during these meetings, we would announce the winner and present the winner with a $200 gift card and an award they could take home, but must bring back the next day so it could be prominently hung on a wall in the facility. I would also hand out a $50 runner up award. It was amazing what this did to my facility. I had sales people reporting to me, what they did over and above in efforts. Office personnel, who looked to price shop common use items to reduce overhead and lot attendants who would finish cleaning the inventory and weed around my office windows to get attention. It had such a positive effect on reducing negativity and stopping those pity parties while building a "Total Team" effort. Phase #4, anyone who made a mistake or did something negative would be consulted in private using two managers (HR preferred) and myself in the conversation. Never, and I mean never allow reprimand in front of their peers.

Mar 4, 2013

Fantastic comments Randall. Kudos!

Mar 4, 2013

Comments 1 - 5 of 5

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Ron Henson's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Preempt Lease-End Competition for Your CPO Inventory

    The combination of consumer demand, increasing off-lease supply, and record-setting lease penetration is creating what could be sustainable momentum for the certified pre-owned (CPO) market. To provide context, consider the following market dynamics: Lease originations exceeded 3.5 million in 2014, Manheim reports—their highest level since 2000. CPO sales increased nearly 11% last year and accounted for 20% of used car sales in 2014, according to Edmunds.com. TrueCar notes that CPO sales this year will total more than 2.5 million units, predicting 2015’s supply of one-to-five-year-old used vehicles, including CPO, at 10.4 million units. As these market dynamics unfold, used car managers will need to source CPO inventory more wisely than their competition. To help stay ahead and grow market share, I suggest two strategies: Obtain CPO inventory from nontraditional sources. Get ahead of banks and lenders, lease-conquest marketers, and other dealers before lease-end. Executing ...Read post

  • Who's Down The Street? How to Differentiate Yourself In A Busy World

    Look around, who’s your biggest (local) competition. If you’re like most of us, you know who they are, you constantly see their sales numbers and wonder  how can you beat them this month? What do they have that you don’t? You have the same cars, right? You have the same (more or less) finance programs? You have the same style dealership? If these answers are “yes,” it’s time you do something to differentiate yourself from the dealership down the street.  When the OEM’s consistently make every dealership “look” the same, what does it take to stand out in a sea of non descript buildings (& colored cars for the most part.)?   Do you have a mission statement? Is that mission statement displayed in your dealership? What about in your “virtual dealership?” What’s your virtual dealership? Your website! How many visits does your website get a week or a mont h? I bet it’s more visitors than people who walk into your showroom. There’s really no need to ad...Read post

  • Service Departments Need Tune-Ups Too

    The service department tends to be the busiest place in a dealership, and service managers must stay in tune with what’s going on. While meetings and discussions can be useful, at times they only result in vague ideas the service staff never acts upon. Just like in any organization, a service department is only as good as its leader. Sometimes, you have to get in the trenches to really understand employee problems, obstacles, and frustrations.   To get on the employees’ level, service department managers may find it helpful to visit with their employees in an active and participatory manner, one-on-one. I’m not talking about individual meetings. Rather, I mean managers should shadow employees in areas integral to efficient operations. Service managers can learn a wealth of information from shadowing employees, as well as stay in tune with departmental operations and dynamics. This helps to spot problem areas, and increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability.   For...Read post

  • 3 New Ways to Advertise Effectively to Women

    Car advertising is heavily slanted towards price. The buying demographic has shifted to women who now make up more than half of the sales, and influence over 80% of the deals. Today, it makes sense to move advertising to accommodate this powerful market sector. Did You Know? When women are asked why they bought a car at a particular dealership, the “Sales Advisor” was the #1 reason. “Price” and “Dealership Reputation” tie for second place. All customers want the “best” deal possible and women are no exception. In fact, 7 of 10 women report that price is a top factor in purchasing a particular vehicle.1 What Does this Mean for Your Dealership? It means that applying “softer and smarter” factors can improve the overall messaging effectiveness in traditional TV, radio and print advertising. Improved effectiveness increases reach, and provides more advertising dollar value. Let’s take a closer look: Idea #1: Ensure your advertising conveys reputation, trust...Read post

  • Marketing and Selling Cars to Millennials

    99 percent of consumers expect their car shopping experience to be a "hassle" (according to the recently completed Consumer Experience survey by DrivingSales). That’s pretty clear systemic indictment, pointing to the fact that nearly every step in the purchase funnel has room for improvement including how we market to consumers. In the spirit of eating this elephant one bite at a time, let’s focus on how we can shape our marketing to face the now largest segment of our population, the Millennials. Born from 1981-1997, they will overtake the Baby Boomers this year in total population and range in age from 18-34. Attracting and retaining this population of consumers will pave the way for a successful future for those willing to address them on their terms. Here are 3 relatively simple changes that will positively impact the attraction of the Millennial audience.  Don’t declare.  Let’s start with our broadcast messaging, how we communicate via radio and television. The ...Read post

  • Would You Like White or Red Wine With Your Oil Change?

    If you were to ask today’s consumers if they’d like to hang out at a car dealership, chances are that the majority would respond “no.” When consumers do visit a dealership to purchase a vehicle or get their vehicle serviced, many times the process can be longer than desired and is not always a great experience for the consumer. Dealerships have been attempting to streamline the sales and service process through the use of technology to make the entire process faster and more efficient so as to be more consumer friendly.   Some dealerships are going a little bit further to make the customer experience more enjoyable with the addition of delis, Starbucks, movie theaters and hair salons, as permanent fixtures. And thinking even further outside the box, a recent Automotive News article highlighted a Fort Worth, Texas dealership that chose to open a 250 square foot wine store inside their dealership. It has been so popular with their customers that it has actually added $700,00...Read post

  • Performance Loyalty Group Helps Auto Dealers Retain Customers While Maximizing Revenue on Every Sale with Launch of Next Generation LoyaltyTrac®

    Performance Loyalty Group (PLG), a marketing technology company specializing in automotive customer loyalty and retention programs, today announced the next generation of LoyaltyTrac, the ultimate solution for tracking, analyzing, and rewarding customer purchases to build service loyalty. The new and improved LoyaltyTrac platform continues to help auto dealers better retain customers while being easier to use than ever and adding exciting new features. One key feature addition to LoyaltyTrac is the introduction of dealer currency. Issuing dealer currency allows a dealer to offer a “discount” or incentive to the customer to make a purchase, but instead of giving it in cash (thus lowering gross revenue), the discount value is offered in dealer currency for the future purchase of parts, service, accessories, or vehicles. This satisfies the customer – as they feel they have the value of the discount – while also tying them to the dealership for future purchases. For example, instead of lowering the $25,000 sale price of a vehicle by $500 to $24,500 just to close a deal, a sales manager could instead issue $500 in dealer currency to a customer, thus maintaining the $25,000 selling price (and retaining the $500 towards deal profit that they would previously give away) and ensuring that customer comes back to the dealership to redeem the value on the card. Read post

  • Chief Strategy Officer of the Content Marketing Institute to Keynote DSES 2015

    We very excited to announce Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer of the Content Marketing Institute, will address the 7th annual DrivingSales Executive Summit audience Oct. 18-20 at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. Robert literally wrote the book on what customers want and how marketing strategies have to change in his book Experience: The 7th Era of Marketing. Read post