Recent discussions I’ve had with potential clients suggest that one of the biggest road blocks to maximizing retail automotive success is the dealership (or department) culture. I decided it was again an opportune time to tackle this thorny issue. “Culture” can be defined as the shared values and practices of the company’s (or department’s) employees, and it’s important because it can make or break your dealership. Business cultures change over time, primarily as a result of employees leaving and joining the company. These changes may be positive, or not…they may be intended, or not…they may be major changes, or not.
In assessing your culture, you probably need to ask yourself some hard questions. Here’s a few starters:
If you like the way the culture looks and feels at your dealership as a whole (and in each of your operating departments) then all you need to do is focus on supporting and sustaining your current values and practices. On the other hand, if you believe your culture needs to change…and you wish to implement that change…you probably have some painful days ahead. Your first step must be to alter the attitudes and behavior of (or de-hire) the “granfalloons” in your organization. “Granfalloons” -- isn’t that a great word? It was first penned by Kurt Vonnegut in 1988 when he wrote Cat’s Cradle. The word means “a group of people who claim to have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is essentially meaningless.”
What are the characteristics of the type of culture we see in a highly successful dealership, or department thereof? The list may include, but is certainly not limited to, the following: