Year after year we attend conferences coming back with great ideas. Ideas - that if they were implemented - could have a significant impact on your dealerships bottom line. However, more often than not, those new innovative ideas do not come to fruition. Whether that is the GM or Owner not offering their staff the ideas; or not providing your team the ability to execute the ideas. Either way, for the new ideas to come to fruition some things have to be considered:
Bring the Business Development Manager or Your General Sales Manager
For those who have BDC’s - you most likely have a BDC Manager; someone that is usually responsible for the websites, marketing, CRM and vendor relationships. I know first hand how valuable these conferences are. However, it took sometime before the dealer was willing to invest the time and money in allowing me to attend the conferences or workshops. Where previously, the owner would come back offering new ideas and or suggestions. The problem, though, was that I did not otherwise have access to these vendors in a meaningful or significant way. Not to mention, by the time I was given the ideas and suggestions trying to round up the decision makers was not an easy task, and no one wanted to champion the efforts. Noting that for there to be a significant shift to occur in the way we approach digital marketing or internal processes, both your leaders and influencers have to be onboard.
That said, the ideas where there but never executed. Until finally, I was able to attend the conferences interacting directly with the vendors and owner. It was like an entirely new world was unleashed; the idea that I was not the only one struggling with the same issues. As a result of attending with the owner, we were able to create action plans - having already committed to making the decision when we returned. Having that foundation - groundwork - built was invaluable. Not to mention, it is much easier to make decisions and changes when you are out of the day to day operations; allowing you to focus on a smart growth plan.
Do Not Tackle Everything at Once. Pick One thing to Make the Change On.
It is easy to sit in a room and make several decisions, but we have to look beyond the change, itself understanding that it will be a cultural change, it affects the way KPI’s are measured, and most importantly, it takes a ‘champion’ to see that these changes are executed. That said, instead of tackling everything at once choose one thing that you know you can improve on. Looking back, one of the things we knew that needed to be tackled was online reviews. We were not consistent in the reviews we got; there could be one month we got five or six, and other months that we did not get any at all. Knowing how much your online reputation plays in the prospective customer making their decisions we knew that had to change.
At one of the conferences we attended, we were able not just to conceptualize the change, but more importantly - we actualized the change. The following Monday we got back, we got with the managers first; explaining the new process on online reviews. To which they got with their staff. Three months later, we had an additional 125 positive reviews, and when I left, we had over 1,600 positive reviews and won Dealer of the year for the last five years running. This is not to say it will work for everyone. What it is saying, however, is take the time to invest in your dealers champion - whether that is your BDC Manager or one of your sales managers. In doing so, not only will it boost their morale, but it can and will have a positive impact on your dealership. Looking back to my last career, it was the conferences that pushed me to think differently and actualize results.
How do you approach change? Do you invest in your dealers champion?