Lombardi Time

Greg-LingenfelterMany of you may have heard of an NFL coach named Vince Lombardi.  He was such an iconic coach that they named a trophy after him.  That trophy is annually awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl.  Yes, I’m from Wisconsin, and my wife and I, and our 3 boys, are huge Green Bay Packers fans.

When Vince Lombardi would schedule meetings or practice at 7:00 am, when do you think his players or position coaches showed up?  7:02, 7:14, 6:59, 7:05, etc.?  Once they arrived at the field, what do you think they did?  They probably talked about what they did last night, grabbed some early morning coffee, went to the locker room to get changed, etc.

If Coach Lombardi’s players arrived at work even a few minutes early, yet needed time for the other morning tasks, were they “on time” for work? Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Basically, it worked like this: Lombardi expected his players and coaches to be 15 minutes early to meetings and practices. Not on time, but 15 minutes early. If they weren’t, he considered them “late.” Thus, it came to be called Lombardi time.

What does that have to do with the automotive business, you ask?

During dealership visits I’ll ask techs and advisors what their work hours are.  It’s not uncommon to have them tell me “…my hours are ‘about’ 8 to 5…”. Someone please tell me what “about 8” means.

Picture a Monday morning at the local dealership in Green Bay. Customer arrives at 8 am for their scheduled appointment.  Service consultant smiles, greets them at the car AND even does a walk around inspection, and all the other steps you have been working on with them.  You are so proud!

This customer happens to be a waiting customer.  After 15 minutes the customer comes back to the service desk to ask a question.  Now there’s a problem–the car still hasn’t moved from where the customer parked it.  When the customer asks the service consultant why the car hasn’t moved, guess what the answer is? “I’m sorry Mr. Lambeau, my tech usually gets here about 8 and should be here any minute.  We’ll get on it right away.”  I’m sure this customer will give us another chance, or will they?

I am surprised at how many times I am asked by dealers and service managers, “What can I do with John?  He’s one of my best techs, but he’s never here on time.”  Seems simple, but in the world of “I can’t find any skilled technicians,” it can become more complicated.  If you allow it!

It starts with having a written work schedule for all employees that also sets the expectation as to what “on time” is.  Now it’s up to the managers to hold their team accountable.  You must be prepared to set an example, if necessary.  Of course, this is not a concern only with techs; there are parts personnel, cashiers, service consultants, cashiers, and dispatchers, too.  Any one of these employees not being on time for their shift WILL affect your customers.  I do understand how hard it is to hire any new employee.  I also know how hard it is to hire new customers when we miss promise times or have to carry over work to the next day due in part to employees not being available the hours you need them.  Once you deal with the habitually late employee, the other employees will be heard saying, “…it’s about time!”

You may want to consider changing your expectations for being on time to being on Lombardi time!

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