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Joe Webb

Joe Webb Founder / Trainer

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The Push and Shove Proposition - by Joe Webb

 

Just how much can a dealer and their team be pushed into the digital age? Just how far can a dedicated Internet Sales Manager push the dealer ownership into an internet culture? Just how fast can a trainer push the dealership’s online efforts? Just how quickly can a dealer demand old dogs to perform new tricks? Total buy-in is hard to come by, worth its weight in gold, and tremendously hard to achieve. Still today, opposition lurks around every corner.
 
This is the quintessential problem facing ISMs, facing trainers… and facing dealerships. Many know where their dealership should be, but are far too reluctant to cause an upheaval in the way the showroom and service department operates. No one wants a mutiny on their hands. So how hard should we push?
 
While visiting a new dealer client of mine, I found that the entire showroom still utilizes an up sheet to log their customers. (I use the word “utilize” amazingly loose here). The owner backs this strategy as they don’t even use a computer themselves.  Worse off, only the customers that were sold were ever logged on the up sheet. “Phone ups taken are NOT to be logged on the sheet” said management. “Too confusing.”) To that, I say “WHAAAAAAT?”  Their store is achieving strong numbers (I can only assume by sheer luck, will, and determination), so I wonder if it is right to force a CRM upon them if it possible the sales staff and ownership would never enforce its use?
 
Top-down support can be successful, but even a direct initiative from the top (or from a trainer) cannot guarantee total buy-in. Could the expense of a CRM cause more damage than good? Obviously, as a trainer, I believe if I impose my will, I can get the culture of the store to change for the better. But am I wrong to PUSH for it? Would an ISM bringing in a new technology be able to have the same push? If not… if it is for the good of the store… when would it be right to go from push to shove?
 
These are the types of questions many dealers, ISMs, and trainers ask. Obviously, I believe a CRM is one of the most useful tools that could EVER be employed at a dealership, but when pushing for something becomes shoving, it may be best to focus training efforts on those changes we can control. Is it just enough to have an ILM for the Internet and BDC team?
 
Should merchandising, pricing strategies, soc med, lead management, sales training, and phone skills be our focus until the salespeople and management switch sides in the game of dealership tug of war? Must we always wait until we have a team pulling with us? Sure, once the dealer and upper management help the push and majority rules, it is an easier change to make.
 
As a trainer/consultant, it is my duty to suggest (and push for) what is best for my dealership clients… even if they don’t know what is best for them. It is like forcing a child to eat their vegetables. It helps them grow no matter how much they hate the taste. Not all dealers are growing. Some are happy where they are, but still seek help from others just because they don’t know. When basic, real-world data is not enough of a driving force to make a switch, logical thinking gets you nowhere, and potential growth is disregarded because the fear the unknown, a Shove strategy must be utilized. Times like these call for the push and shove proposition.
Marc McGurren
Great article Joe. This is something we have struggled with in implementing our CRM. We have been a successful dealership going on 40 years now and it has been a fight. I actually tried to push/shove and will my way into getting both managers and salespeople to buy in. That blew up in my face since upper level management wasn't even 100% bought in - at least not to the point of "my way or the highway" - which left me little authority in my pushing and shoving. I have since decided to win salespeople and managers over one-by-one. Show them the benefit. Let them see how this can help and is not just busy work - but when properly utilized - it can and will help you sell more cars. Right now - I am getting more buy in than I ever have. Why? They see the benefit. Once they see that - they own it. I no longer have to push or shove. Just my $.02
Joe Webb
Thanks for sharing, Marc. While I was on the retail side, I started with buy-in from ownership and management (though I had a considerable amount of pull anyway) and it was STILL a struggle. Some people are only comfortable with what they've experienced before and there is a mindset in this industry that car folks have where they say "You can't teach me anything I don't already know." We all have those people around us, but they are the infection holding our industry back from expanding faster. Thanks again for sharing some on-site examples. And congrats again on the Innovative Dealer Award. Funny that someone can win a trophy for that and STILL get so much push-back on something as vital as a CRM.
Larry Bruce
Interesting Article Joe. I will tell you it's my experience that dealers (myself included) can not be pushed or shoved into anything, we get there are own way and on our own time. The best way to get us there... little wins. start with something small, get a win then shout it to the roof tops. Do that again and again and eventually you will have enough data and real dealership experiences to get the dealer to see the good in the change and take that leap. Hope that helps, talk soon.
Gary May
Joe, Great post, definitely the struggle within coming out of you (and all of us). Here's a few more things to ponder: 1. Why take every dealer that wants to hire you? Over the past few years, the best examples we've had are from the ones that want it, do it, fall down, do it some more and succeed without looking back. The ones that I've questioned bringing on? The ones we've had to push. 2. Do complimentary assessments. More often than not, a two-hour meeting will set the record straight and we've had success with that. No assessments, no clients. We've walked away from consulting and training deals after a meeting in which it was all-too evident that they wanted validation, not education (let alone improvement). 3. What has the dealer done before? Aside from the obvious "we've not done it, we're committed and that's why you're here", there are some other telling signs that your efforts may not lead, guide, push or harangue them anywhere but steadfastly frozen in their tracks. You're a great speaker, motivator and teacher. We've all gotten the tough ones, but as a generalization why do that to yourself? (second disclaimer: we do the same thing). There are likely a few more dealers that are dying for your help versus the ones that need a constant bear hug. Not every dealer will be a white paper. But no dealer should leave a guy like you calling for mercy either. Go get em He-Man!!! Gary May IM@CS
Joe Webb
Thanks Gary. I actually just write whatever I am thinking. The dealer I referenced has already decided to move forward with a CRM/ILM, new website, Market Pricing tool, desking tool, and a new Inventory provider. The idea for the article sprung into my head after just one push-back conversation. (I did impose my will and it will work). My article was meant to support the ISMs you and I speak to everyday that reach out to us, not for training help, but for a shoulder to cry on. They must know that we've all been in this boat and it is nothing new. This too shall pass. Thanks for the keys, though, Gary. All great tactics for any consultant/trainer. Keep it up.

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