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What's Next...

This is a question often asked at all levels, it could be a new hire or the stakeholder to their management team. Understanding we know what we need but it's always there, What's Next? What are the next steps? How do we achieve what we set out to accomplish? Although the question is clear the journey is often not.

So what do we do to accomplish what we need? 

Reverse engineering comes into play here. What is the desired end result? Is it increased profitability, retention, volume, exposure? Once this is defined then a plan can be constructed from there. Do we have the right people in place to design and execute what comes next. You may not have them internally, this is not an issue as there are specifically qualified experts that can assist you in this endeavour. 

This is where it becomes critical. Like consumers are you setting realistic expectations of return, if you are not then you are just setting yourself up for failure. Sometimes, we need to fail to understand, however in this instance we need to look for success. 

So it's imperative to set realistic guidelines which can be measured, tracked and coached. Like the topic implies Leadership and Performance Management. If don't have the ability to measure and track the progress then the plan is doomed before it starts. 

Understanding this we need to set in place the key performance indicators or KPI's to each plan. If we are measuring a new hire in sales we need to set our guidelines of how many opportunities that each will need to obtain both with inbound and outbound lead generation, what the conversion rate to appointments is, the measured steps to the sale and final conversion rate. You might want to include return visits and referral counts. Looking at these statistics we can calculate the sales performance but we can also engage coaching and leadership to the areas of concern quickly and accurately.

I reviewed a software last week that not only tracked this with accuracy but allowed for each individual to monitor themselves and against the collective team averages. Better yet it included a pay plan component that factored each aspect that we as dealers want completed such as data input, appointments, shows, demonstration drives, offers, trade appraisals and win, as well as closes.

Each was given a value and in the end it matched the average commission of a vehicle for that brand. The benefit was the constant communication of the representative with the consumer but more so it built an enormous data bank for the dealer. It was a win/win scenario. Think of this each representative knew exactly their income moving forward each week but the dealer has full visibility of what was actually happening every day from a simple dashboard. 

Maneuver this into a process where as the staff from the initial hiring is onboard and trained correctly, where the managers are leaders not number crunchers and everyone works a single opportunity as a team, including enlisting the assistance of the consumer, where do you think the conversion rates and profitability will go? I can assure you the statistics show upwards. 

Paragon Honda/Acura, a top volume dealer for the brand uses a system like this A2Z Sync, it employs a single point of contact technology. If it didn't work do you think Brian Benstock would have it as I have never seen a more driven leader in this industry. In his words its saved them 17-20% in the costs of delivering a car. Working with technology intelligently will bring us forward.

Now, let's go back a step... We have our representatives entering in data and now we want to target them correctly... How are we doing that? Are we using our CRM/DMS to engage? If we are I can assure you our success rates could be a lot higher especially if you are a multi-rooftop operation. Employing a CDP into your data stack will deliver results that will drive more than opportunities to your stores but will engage people with exacting information instantaneously regardless of the division they dealt with. This holistic approach is being utilized in some many industries but not ours, why? because we're adverse to change.

Just ask Tim Hayden from Brain+Trust.

So if we have the technology, and it's out there, what is holding us back? 

People and process. We need to change the thoughts on this as well. 

For as long as I can I can remember, the car industry was a last chance not a first choice. It lured the individuals that needed a job not a career. Why? We held very little regard for who we hired, it was can they do as I say, when I say it, and how I say it. If so then I can train them; so infamous mirror test was invented. Can they fog it up? if they can then they were hired. It is not that bad today but it's still bad.

What makes matters worse is that once they are hired we treat them even worse. Onboarding is unheard of at most dealerships, orientation is at best a quick tour, then there's your desk, your cards are on the way, go drive a car and tell me what you think and when you get a customer come see me so I can tell you what to say. This is ludacris. Are you aware that NADA believes proper onboarding of a technician is one full year but there is nothing listed for sales. Could this be the reason for a 80% turnover rate as posted by the latest JM&A survey. 

To me this makes no sense whatsoever. The costs of turnover are astronomical and then you engage with a hiring agency to replace that talent only to deflate them off the hop with a poor policy. What challenges this even further we are not setting them up for success nor retention and it shows. As our business model is based on a 30 day turn we want, no we demand instantaneous success or we will keep looking. So all we get is a cyclical process where we churn through individuals rather than invest in our current staff. Which is great for guys like Larry Feldman, who is one of the best in the recruitment business but even Larry will say after you hire him you need to look forward.

What if we changed the onboarding practice, made it an apprenticeship, employed companies like Zach McVicker's Onboardian. Showed people that we were actually an industry that cared for it's team members and invested in them.

That we were willing to train them properly and create a career for them. Do you think your numbers would be 80%? Time to do a little math here... The average loss and rehire cost anywhere from 40%-100% of the annual income of that individual multiple this by your current churn rate and see if it would ever equal that of hiring a few outside vendors to assist in employee engagement. Speaking of which engaged employees are 55% more productive than those who just show up.

As you see there is a message here. If we change the technology for the better, the process to include the people, we now can concentrate on the right people as those are the ones that not only will want to stay working for you but also to come work for you. This is where investing in Performance and Leadership Management will benefit ten fold. 

There is an old saying "People don't quit, they fire their bosses". If this is true and turnover is not just termination numbers (If that were true then Management would need a look) we need to know how to keep them from quitting. This goes back to my Number Crunchers verses Leaders comment earlier. People will do nearly anything for a Leader especially a Servant Leader however a Boss is another story. Time to change to that mindset, time to show not demand, time to develop individuals not destroy psyches. Egos have no place in this business.

Design your process around leadership and see how it changes. At the beginning of the summer, Jason Harris and I discussed about how this is a people business yet we don't treat it that way. What if we were to design a career path for everyone based on their own individual why. Would we attract retention? Doug Reeves and I had conversation about longevity pay plans, would that increase retention? All these and more need to be discussed when designing your plan as each WILL keep costs down and global experience up.

So what is next? What is your plan entering into the last quarter? Are you going to try and ride out the year or are you going to invest in the future of your business and team? The choice is yours. If you need assistance by all means reach out to me or any one of the capable people I have mentioned here as it will be a step in the right direction for you.

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