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A picture is worth a 1,000 words... What is wrong with this one?

A recent connection shared this picture with LinkedIn and immediately I reacted

with one word WHY. There is something dramatically wrong with it and to me it's not the people in the picture that are responsible for this downfall but those that employ them and those that employ them right up to the ownership. Now this can be just simple interpretation of what I see and I could be wrong but then again as one is entitled to a first impression and you never get a second chance on this let's look into this a little deeper.

On first glance, these four gentlemen who I have confirmed are representatives of this dealership are all glancing down at their phones. One could argue that they are conducting business through direct conversation, email, text, social or any number of other digital means but I would find that hard to believe. To me they are all experiencing downtime supplemented by digital distraction. They are not using their devices as tools but that of escape. I could be wrong by again not one has it up to their ear or do I see any earbuds nor do I see any form of note taking.

You could argue that this was an isolated incident and it was just by luck that the photo was taken when it was as they all had their heads buried into their devices BUT that was the whole purpose of the photo. These individuals had their heads down for so long the person who took the photo had a reason to take that photo.

What does that say about the individuals captured here? Lack of motivation? Poorly trained? Low situational awareness? I could keep going... Is it their fault? In my humble opinion the easy answer is an unresounding NO! Someone in their circle of influence allowed them to do this. A coworker somewhere down the line made this acceptable. Whether it was a Manager who failed to display the value of their careers or an equal who solidified the right that it was ok. Being buried into your phone is never OK in a public view such as this and whoever trained this into these individuals needs to be retrained.

Let's look into this a little further.

When you enter into any retail establishment you have a reason. That reason is always to gather intelligence. Whether it's to have questions answered, see an item in particular, try something out, compare pricing or any number of other matters, you are there for a reason. That reason will lead you to a buying decision, Yes or No, and what do you want from this... An Experience and preferably a good one. This is the reason why so many brands are investing millions into CX. Now, let's look into what we see here, we enter into the lot, to gain intelligence to assist us in a buying decision and the first thing we see is four employees buried into their phones. Right off the bat were not looking favorably into our experience. Where is the level of importance into the client on the lot? Would you have to interrupt them to get answers? Back to first impressions.

Situational awareness is very important. The photographer was there long enough to understand the impact of the photo. That is why they took it. They were walking around long enough to observe this negative behavior and took the photo. Now I am not saying that these four people didn't know if there was a potential client on the lot or not but they sure didn't know what impression they were making to an individual that may or may not have the power to purchase or display their behaviors to the management. To me this is a customer facing issue of poor situation awareness. Any employee regardless of seniority should know the impact of their appearance at anytime can impact the experience of the customer.

If you are at the mall and want to walk into a store, which one would you choose if the given items were the same; Store A, where the visible employees were buried into their phones, potentially eating lunch or all gathered together in a huddle chatting away or Store B, where the employees were merchandising, straightening the stock, and doing general administrative duties. For me it would be Store B hands down for it gives an impression of pride of ownership taken by the employees or a sense of career value. This would inevitably carry over to the experience I would receive entering the establishment.

Relate this to a dealership. Joe Verde has a saying Four Corners, Four Walls; Walk the lot and then the building. Take note of any changes, completed or necessary for the daily business, execute and start your day successful. If this had happened at this particular dealership, Management would notice that these individuals were not acting in the best interest of themselves and instituted changes. Again, not to say these individuals are not conducting business but they are not at a park either... so get your BUTT off the table. Next would be if you are conducting business have a Bullpen for them. If they can't see outside for potential clients, get a monitoring or greeter system in place. This will allow them to concentrate on conversion of business without fear of missing the next opportunity. Moreso it will allow the potential client from seeing this increasing the opportunity of engagement.

Start training your staff about first impressions, downtime opportunities, customer retention, social media capture, creating content and maximizing referral bases. Each and everyone of these will move them away from the bench and working on a effort to increase reach and income. The chances of the above picture happening will be slim to none. They will become more engaged with their focus and why they are there. This is the responsibility of the Management. Sitting behind a desk, working deals is a minor part of the position. Leadership is the main objective. Coach the team to success through training and result based rewards. Establish a business plan with the teams, track the successes and failures, collaborate together on how to benefit from this pivoting where needed and increasing the opportunities, limiting the liabilities.

A culture change will happen immediately with this direction, back to Joe... People should come to work to work not just to hang out with the potential of earning a living. They will start to look at it differently, putting in an effort as time plus effort equals success. You cannot expect success without either. One often hears the term work smarter not harder. This is an oxymoron if I've even heard one as it breeds laziness. If you have extra time through efficiency, then maximize the opportunity, remembering Time + Effort = Success. With all of this you will not find these individuals on the bench on their phones but engaged in the reason why they are there in the first place.

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