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The Death of the Traditional Dealership
By: Mark Tewart
The traditional dealership is dead but some have not had their funeral yet. It seems as though as much as some things change in the auto industry, as many things stay the same. Every week our trainers observe things in dealerships that look and feel like the 1960's.
Let's take a look at some things still commonly observed in dealerships that are outdated and should be changed.
1) Manager towers - High towers built for managers where salespeople go to get their proposal figures. The common reason for these towers is to create a good observation point of the inventory for managers. What these towers signify is demeaning to salespeople and adversarial to customers. These towers create a manager haven for never moving and an air of supremacy.
Solution: Tear down the towers. Look around your dealership and ask yourself the following question. "What do I see that looks like it's from the 60's?" Please tear it down.
2) The big green sharpie deal proposals. These proposals scream of adversarial "you vs. me" negotiations. The figures seem less real and more of just a thought.
Solution: Use printed or screen proposals with full disclosure
3) Manager TO's at the end of a sales attempt - For those of you who may be new to the auto business, a TO means a turnover. Old school selling means the salesperson turns over the customer to a manager when he/she cannot CLOSE a deal. Often, the new salesperson is berated for not turning the customer to the manager. The reason is the new salesperson feels as uncomfortable as the customer with this process.
Solution: Manager/Coach/ Team Leader is actively involved in the sales process from the greeting of the customer. The new focus is to OPEN the relationship so the sale can be closed. The days of sitting behind a desk and screaming at salespeople to bring a deal are dead. Managers will be hybrid sales coaches, assistants and information providers that involve the sales process, deal process, F&I assistance. No longer will the manager be expected to save a lost deal but will be involved throughout the process with the emphasis on creating not on saving. You manage things but you lead people.
4) Seat of the pants used car inventory management. - The days of the guru used car manager who knows all the hot cars, market figures for every car on the market, what the correct appraisal is on every trade at and what every other dealership is doing and managing the used inventory strictly by feel, is dead. The truth is that person never really existed. It was a myth and a fairy tale. Nobody and I mean nobody is that good at what they do.
Solution: If you do not have a used inventory philosophy, system and technology to assist you then you will forever be making mistakes that are in today's market very unforgiving. You must use your learned knowledge combined with inventory technology and up to date market data to be relevant in the market. The shocking truth is that the 90, 60, 45 or whatever day turn systems used strictly by themselves are also outdated models that not only do not work, they create problems. Your goals are high sales, profit, ROI and yield, not just turns. (More on that subject in future articles)
5) A staff full of professional "Do it all, salespeople" - This one can actually still be accomplished but very, very few dealers actually do the things to recruit, hire and train the right people to make this happen. If you have never done this before, you will probably not do this in the future. Don't kid yourself. Running a help wanted ad in the newspaper, interviewing candidates without a pre-thought out plan for recruiting, interviewing, testing, screening, training and ongoing development is not trying to develop a staff of professional salespeople.
Solution: The solution for many is something most do not want to hear. For most dealerships, you will never put the amount of time, money and energy to set up a high level approach to getting and keeping great people. It's just a fact. The solution is to create a process that involves heavy involvement with team leaders, assistants and technology that narrows the scope of your sales staff. Most dealerships are hiring average to below average people and expecting them to do a myriad of things they are not only not doing, but not capable of doing. Worse yet the managers are not showing these people or inspecting the process to make sure it happens. If you are honest with yourself and this description fits your dealership, then you must try something different. The long term health of your customer base and dealership depends on this.
I invite you to take a moment today and before you get busy with the everyday tasks to take a strong look at your dealership and what is being accomplished or not. Be honest. Are you fighting battle you have never won? Do your salespeople, managers, processes and dealership reek of the 60's and 70's? It may just be time for a funeral.
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