Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

Is there something holding you or your team back? The best service departments all have some common denominators. YES, these dealerships have some commonality that provides awesome customer service experience and profit, but it was not easy getting there! Another way of putting this is that … consistent business results are driven by strategically focusing on certain business functions and opportunities that other companies fail to see the value and potential. If your dealership is one of those that is not hitting their numbers, there are some common denominators here also. As a matter of fact, the staff usually all feels like they are doing their best, however, if you asked them privately, most of these employees would say they have more to give or would prefer not to give any more time and effort. It is time to put policies, procedures, and training in place in order to increase your customer experience and create more raving fans!

I will communicate some general thoughts and motivations here. I believe we all agree that the difference between average and top-level earners boils down to:

  1. Commitment
  2. Process
  3. Preparation

All of the top-performing dealers have six themes in common that would describe them. If you have the right people on the bus, then, are they in the right seat? Next, we should ask who is driving the bus? No issues…., then let’s start with communication.

1. Communication

The number one area in need of help is communication. The quality of communication and quantity of communication to your customers and staff. I cannot underscore this enough. When you see customer retention scores or CSI scores that are poor, it is almost always due to their level of communication. The challenge is the department has normalized their effort and believes this sub-par communication is “the way we do it”. As I travel the country and compare top performers to average level performers, the effort to communicate is noticeably different.

The culture in the department needs to change in these average dealerships. It always takes one manager or GM to demand extra effort. The staff will always get frustrated with their extra effort, then eventually accept it, then embrace it. Start with sharing your vision to inform and motivate your staff. Explain why improving the level of service is the key to short-term and long-term success. As they say, communicate the value and draw a mental picture of where we need to be and how we get there. So, let’s maximize our earnings and minimize our stress. Take control of your day and stress communication to your staff.

2. Accountability

We have all heard of the saying “Who is checking the checkers?” Figure out what is one of the most important or top areas of concern. Let’s put a process in place to inspect the process and make sure everybody is adhering to the setup. Here are some thoughts I often use when speaking to managers at the dealerships.

In order to change your employee’s behavior, as a manager you must:

  • Determine what the expectation is
    • Decide what behavior you want your employees to demonstrate
    • Desired behavior should lead to an ultimate “end” (result)
  • Explain the expectation to the employees involved
    • Meet with the employees to explain to them our expectation
    • In order to achieve your expectation, they need to understand what it is
  • Provide training to show the employees how to achieve your expectation
    • Do not assume your employees know how to do their part
    • Provide specific training to demonstrate how to achieve the expectation
  • Manage toward the expectation
    • The employees will need continual reinforcement of your expectation
    • It may take multiple times and multiple days in a row in order for the employees to adopt the new behavior as the “new” normal
    • This process will not be a “Set it and forget it” process. But what I usually find is that the manager installs a process and nobody follows up or the follow-up is not consistent.
  • Audit the results
    • The expectation needs to be measurable
    • Regular audits need to be performed of the employee’s performance toward the expectation
    • The measurable results need to be shared with the employees to show them how they are doing toward their expectation

3. Drive Behavior

Accountability is huge! Draw up your rules and/or have a meeting about the dos and don’ts of business. Most people appreciate hearing and knowing what they can do and what they can’t do on the job. As listed in the previous newsletter, the last two thoughts were:

  1. Manage towards the expectation.
  2. Audit the results.

How can you succeed in life without accountability? We need to “Drive the behavior” of our staff in such a way that the results are provided and expected every day and every week. So, we have two questions to ask at this point. Who is the person responsible to make sure the results are acquired? Who is the person who is responsible to make sure your staff is communicating this information and “driving their behavior”?

4. Clearly defined goals

Let’s measure the expectations and clearly define the goals. This often evolves into motivating and organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal. This step will have to be repeated daily and weekly to make sure your staff understands what is expected and that we will be watching and commenting. Again called, “Driving the Behavior”. Pick a day at your dealership and meet to talk about these goals. In addition, please get their input. Then put a strategy in place to accomplish these goals.

  1. Pick goals you’re passionate about
  2. Visualize yourself achieving these goals
  3. Make sure your goals are achievable
  4. Be specific with your goals
  5. Write these goals down
  6. Reward your staff when the team accomplishes these goals
  7. Tell others about your goals
  8. Prioritize one goal at a time

5. Continuous Improvement (Tweaking the dial)

Create a culture of continuous improvement where all employees are actively engaged in improving the dealership. Nurture this culture by organizing events focused on improving specific areas of the dealership. Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) is a strategy where employees at all levels of a company work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements to the process. In a sense, it combines the collective talents within a company to create a powerful engine for improvement. This is as simple as “Tweaking the dial”. What are you and your staff going to embrace and continuously improve?

6. Building the right culture (Based on performance vs entitlement)

Company culture is an integral part of the business. It affects nearly every aspect of a company. From recruiting top talent to improving employee satisfaction, it’s the backbone of a happy workforce. Without a positive corporate culture, many employees will struggle to find the real value in their work, and this leads to a variety of negative consequences for your bottom line.

There is a strong correlation between employees who claim to feel happy and valued at work and those who say their company has a strong culture.

Your culture is a consequence of your values. So, before you do anything else, you must establish your company values.

  • What is the business purpose?
  • What do I want the business to be known for?
  • Which characteristics do we value in our employees?
  • Communicate your values – Now you’ve nailed down your values, you must communicate them to your people. Only when this is done can they translate into the company culture.
  • Be transparent – Transparency helps improve trust and satisfaction for your employees. It’s also an important component of a strong culture. This also applies to communicating how employees’ work will help the organization towards its mission and objectives (which can often get lost in day-to-day work.)
  • Do what you say you’re going to do – Building a strong company culture is about practicing what you preach. Company values are only worth something when you put them into practice. If you say you’re a ‘people-first’ company, demonstrate this by investing in your people

Here are the 6 areas to consider before making that climb to the next level:

  1. Communication
  2. Accountability
  3. Drive Behavior
  4. Clearly defined goals
  5. Continuous improvement
  6. Building the right culture

The only question that needs to be asked is “do you and your staff have the commitment”? If you follow these steps and get everybody on board, success is just around the corner!

Our Latest Articles