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The Road to Success: The Power of Well-Designed Processes

In every business scenario, regardless of industry, success hinges on a well-thought-out plan. We need to clarify our goals, identify the necessary resources, assign responsibilities, establish tracking mechanisms, and determine our next steps once we achieve our objectives. This fundamental principle holds true in the retail automotive industry as well. So, why do we sometimes struggle to define and implement these seemingly simple steps?

Reflecting on the history of automotive retail, I'm reminded of a time when it was all about relationships, pomp, and pageantry. As a child, I eagerly accompanied my father to witness the annual new car unveilings at John Logan Chevrolet. My dad operated a company with a fleet of cars, and each year, he would return to the same dealer to purchase the same brand for his team. It was a testament to the loyalty and trust built over the years, but it was also a testament to the power of a well-structured process.

Back then, dealerships had processes that focused on building and maintaining relationships. They understood the strength of these relationships, and they capitalized on it. They knew my father would buy a set number of cars each year based on historical data, and they communicated with him regularly despite the absence of today's digital tools.

This brings us to the core of the matter: the importance of processes. By definition, a process is a series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end. Processes are critical for any business, especially in the automotive retail industry. Let's explore this further, specifically in the context of variable operations.

In the journey to success in sales, we can break it down into four steps: Enquiry, Engagement, Conversion, and Continuation. However, each of these steps comprises numerous subsets, actions, and reactions.

Starting with Enquiry, we need to design processes for acquisition, handling, disposition, and communication. To maximize our efforts, we must understand best practices, identify opportunities (both inbound and outward), and assign responsibilities. Team members must recognize the importance of Time, Value, and Experience, which will define the conversion rate of leads. Response time is crucial in today's world of instant gratification, and we must deliver actionable value to customers to keep them engaged and interested.

The next step, Engagement, is about creating genuine relationships. Our industry thrives on people and relationships, which contribute to long-term customer value. Processes should focus on developing relationships rather than immediate results. Authenticity and genuine engagement should replace scripted interactions. Ask questions that engage the client and tailor presentations to their specific needs. Engage their senses to make the experience memorable.

Conversion is perhaps the most challenging step to design. It involves either confirming or continuing a relationship. We should treat every transaction as a long-term commitment. Handing off customers multiple times can be detrimental to their experience, so it's essential to consider a single-point-of-contact solution.

Continuation, often overlooked, is critical for long-term success. Studies show that 70% of customers who purchase a vehicle never return to their selling dealer, highlighting the importance of retention management. We need processes for delivery, lost opportunity recovery, and service interaction. Ongoing communication with personalized and valuable content is key to retaining customers and generating referrals.

In conclusion, a well-defined process that prioritizes the customer is the key to success in the automotive retail industry. We must recognize that processes aren't static; they need to adapt to changing customer expectations and market dynamics. By following these principles and constantly refining our processes, we can create a thriving automotive retail business that stands the test of time.

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