Part II – Interview with Don Hall, President & CEO of Virginia Automobile Dealers’ Association

Interview With Don Hall – Part II February 1, 2017 by Chuck Barker As mentioned in the January issue, Don Hall and I spent numerous hours together attempting to take a look at the various aspects of the automobile industry for this two part interview.  Several people have asked how Don and I got together on and the idea of this article came to be.  In  June of last year, you may recall the torrential floods that devastated West Virginia and in particular Greenbrier County where there were 27 deaths and many families left homeless.   I went to the Greenbrier Resort in August, met with Don and the past president of VADA, William Farrell.  Don invited me to his meeting with the owner of the Greenbrier and now Governor Jim Justice whereby Don and William, on behalf of VADA, awarded a $75,000 check to be distributed to the families who lost everything in the flood.  I was quite taken with the heartfelt  generosity and compassion this gesture radiated.  From there, Don and I became friends and as that relationship developed, I more clearly understood what a dynamic and intelligent man Don represented and that his story should be told. Don came from a very broken family, a rough childhood and left to learning on the streets of Los Angeles.  At 16 he left home. At 17 joined the Marine Corp where he, to this day credits his salvation and discipline.  After a brief stint in banking he began his auto career in 1979. He has held several auto retail positions; salesman, F&I, sales manager, GSM and GM.  The long...

The Paradox of Progress

The Farther You Get, the Farther You Have to Go. In taking a detour this month I want to share with you something I have been observing in some dealerships which frankly are holding back business achievement. This article will be a living testament as to why it is so important to establish certain things first. Just this past month, I spoke with several dealerships regarding their latent and unfulfilled attempts to establish a solid CRM strategy and see business growth.  Actually, it astonishes me to see what some stores think the answer is and what is involved in establishing a disciplined  solution. Go slow, yet be deliberate with your quest to identify processes and training needs, locate solutions, purchase elements, implement them and finally, put in play developing your store’s growth potential.   Just like writing a book; one word at a time (or step) is the best method. Of course, before all this occurs you remember we do have to develop certain processes for every nook and cranny of CRM and then maintain a vengeance in adhering to those principle processes. Let’s take store number one for now; Wow, newly upgraded CRM software tool. They just went out and purchased everything they possibly could which looks, smells and tastes like it has anything to do with how “I define” technology and CRM. I mean this store was ‘wired up’ with every gadget, software, camera, monitor, wireless headset and computer you could wildly imagine. Initially, I felt like I was in Best Buy but then migrated quickly over to  more like CIA headquarters as they began boosting about and...

All Managers Are Not Equal

  The Best Ones Are Winning Coaches.   Most people when asked what a leader looks like respond by identifying various titles such as: certain presidents, maybe senators, scientists, governors, military leaders, various business leaders, and…successful athletic coaches. Why are coaches included in this list of esteemed individuals? Because all “good coaches” are leaders and coaching effectiveness is maximized by understanding how to lead people to greatness beyond where they thought they could ever venture on their own. In a way, the relationship between coaches and players is a consensual agreement or contract. Players will follow the coach’s directives, wishes or demands and in return they expect their reward, whether that is winning, playing time, positive reinforcement, skills improvement, increased self-esteem or some other benefit. With that in mind, a coach has the distinguished and profoundly important obligation to find out what each of his or her team members “wants, needs and desires” are. Find these out early and leading becomes easier and much more effective. I visited a store not long ago and asked several managers about their sales people. The managers could rattle off numbers and stats but none of them could really tell me much of anything about the personal lives of their people because they never take the time to do “one-on-ones” and find out what truly drives these folks. Find out what their dreams are and you find the secret to their motivation. The real leaders can and do effectively get their team members to “believe” in the ultimate team and individual goal fulfillments. The great coaches believe in the law of expectation which...

Never Underestimate The Outcome Of Tomorrow By What You Do Today

Entrepreneurial leadership has never been more important in business than it is right now! Entrepreneurial Leaders need to be developing great people, teamwork, hiring practices, smoother processes, better profit pictures and enhanced customer relationship experiences. Positive emotion creates positive motion. And, when you engender positive motion, positive things begin to happen like everyone begins looking in the same direction instead of at each other. When driving at night, you must rely and trust upon your headlights and your ability to guide yourself to your destination. You can actually drive from Maine to Key West at night if you trust in the small steps to get you there by relying upon your headlights. In doing so, we usually spend more time looking through the windshield and not the rear view mirror. Looking forward step by step with positive and encouraging leadership day after day will create new ground from which your team can stand upon with confidence! Sure, in the past there are old, bad experiences which sometimes drive our thoughts and decisions regarding new opportunities. Again, keep your eyes off of the rear view mirror. Letting go of the past is very important because every new experience should not have to go through that same “past bad experience filter” or it will hamper your growth going forward. As a leader you must guide the direction of your team and create faith that the processes, team member development and new ideas you implement will indeed lead the team to the right destination. “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of...

The #1 Underestimated & Underused Business Opportunity!

Just Do It…Right! I consider the Most Underused Business Opportunity in the automobile business to be not having solid processes throughout the entire dealership and/or enterprise. It seems this has always been a problem in the automobile industry and doesn’t appear to be getting any better. Prior to helping out in the automotive field, my years in Corporate America taught me that if you want to target growth in your business and your team members you have to figure out, develop and implement a “processed” plan to do so. Else, you become a prisoner to advertising and ill focused knee jerk ideas. I was known back then as the guy who would come to corporate branches and assess, itemize and define a growth plan based upon processes. Guess what? When we developed & promoted the plan and accumulated “willingly” everyone’s buy-in for the plan – it worked! And it kept on working as long as complacency, laziness or wrong attitudes didn’t get in the way. It all started with one simple step- Starting. Expectations are often premeditated disappointments without a plan. The word Process is defined as; “A business process or business method is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks that produce a specific service or product (serve a particular goal)”. Just parts and pieces when strung together promote business and personnel growth. Not sure why the industry continues to turn in failing grades for this awesome opportunity to naturally grow their business. Maybe it is because this industry does things differently. Litmus test; Next time you are at a 20 Group ask for a show of hands for...

Customer & Employee Relationship Development – A Cultural Change

The Benefits Can’t Possibly Be Measured “If you begin to look at things differently, then things will begin to look different” – Albert Einstein Stop and recognize that everything you do will fail unless one thing is in place. That one thing which has to be present for any Customer and Employee Relationship Development’s success falls squarely on the dealership’s “Top Down Leadership Strategy”. This is without a doubt the absolute most critical component. A change in the way you do business is where it begins and ends. Our business is so accustomed to performing toggle switch like tasks one way and one way only that it has led us to be absorbed with fixed paradigms which are preventing us from seeing the magnificent multitude of new creative ways to do business. Put on a new pair of glasses. To ensure successful design, implementation, and effective production from CRD, changing the way you and your employees do business has to be in your foundation. I particularly like the quote from Herbert Kaufman; “Failure is only postponed success as long as courage “coaches” ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory.” Persistence is what you as a leader will have to have to ensure total success. You will be leading your team where no one has gone before in your store and you will most likely encounter sizable resistance. Do not compromise your position, be persistent, and charge forward with robust leadership showing the way. Leaders know the way, go the way, and show the way. It is your job to take the vision and make it reality....