Dealer Math Test: Data + Thought + Action = Cash

Quiz Take your most popular selling make and model and pick your very best zip code. Do you know how many of those particular vehicles were sold in that zip code in the last quarter? How many of those were used? What year was the most popular? Who sold those vehicles? What color were those vehicles? Did they finance? What was the average advertised price? What did those buyers look like? Young? Female? Income? Where can you find similar consumers? Where do those consumers shop? What beer do they drink now that Earnhardt has gone to AMP? How has the data changed from last quarter? Extra credit: Which vehicles will be the most popular used vehicles 90 days from now? What would you do if you had all of this information? Could you use it to make better decisions regarding used cars, mailings, Internet leads, service, finance, training, etc.? All of the answers to the questions above are pieces of data. The trick is to find a way to quickly pull this data together, think over what the data means and how it has changed, and then take meaningful action. How do you know if you have used data correctly? Easy, cash flow! Try this. You have decided to use direct mail this month; you’re going to send out 5,000 pieces offering free groceries for a month. Who are you going to send the piece to? One of your staff is now shouting “five-mile radius, five-mile radius.” It’s a shame your store is one mile from the Atlantic Ocean. Someone else is telling you to mail your customer base…again,...

The Economy Appears to be Improving. What Should You be Doing to Prepare for an Increase in Business?

The New Year is here and along with it is a brand spanking new opportunity to make this year the best ever. Or, of course just settle for what ever comes your way. I am always amazed by the stores that are motivated to implement new concept ideas and take their stores to new and expanded spaces of achievement. I also enjoy seeing stores that are scared to death of change embrace some new processes to improve their performance too. You know the stores I am referring to; yes the ones with inconsistent management and sales staff attrition hovering around 70%. Here are a few of the critical elements to launch a new successful flight path for you and your dealership. We first need to recognize that there are good stores and there are great stores. The great stores are willing and able to do something extra all the time to encourage and create a better all round environment for their people, and subsequently for their customers. Want to make a difference? Then it will involve an investment in training, time, and stretching your world as you know it. The good news is it can be done and it is not going to cause you to lose arms or legs in the process. If you can’t implement all of these, focus on the ones where you can make a commitment to stay on track and see the effort all the way through. Here are some of the critical elements which must be present in your business growth plan foundation to ensure a practical and sound approach to a successful...

Yea, I Know, But This Is The Car Business…

Interestingly enough the same problems still infect and remain in dealerships as they did 2, 5, and 10 years ago.  But, the common excuse is; “but this is the car business”.  Break this slogan down and what it translates to is; “yes, we are a corporation with a P&L statement, balance sheet, HR department and sometimes shareholders to report to along with all the assorted corporate stuff. But when it comes to disciplined accountability, leadership and developing a Seal Team 6 of our own, “Yea, I know, but this is the car business”.  Like this is a hall pass for not doing the correct things to grow people and the store. You also have to know, stupid is not illegal but it sure is expensive!  And, one of the biggest problematic issues facing a lot of dealerships is ‘ignorance arrogance’ when it comes to management.  Some managers just seem to know it all (ha) and as a defensive mechanism, become arrogant when presented with new leading edge principles which totally short circuit their rule set comfort zone or understanding.  It is time for a new business culture paradigm shift in this industry.  New is in and old is out. Vision I have spoken previously about the importance of visionary leadership in your store.  Why is it this industry largely doesn’t grasp the concepts that successful companies embrace regarding the adoption of a corporate vision for growth?  Ready, shoot, aim seems to be the mantra.  This will give you progressive deterioration if left unchecked along with high attrition, lost deals, team disintegration and employees wandering lost in the desert.  When...

Core Values Form the ‘Success Foundation’

J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr. is chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International, Inc., one of the world’s largest lodging companies. The successor of the highly successful hotel chain is a brilliant leader who clearly understands what it is that makes them so successful. His leadership spans more than 50 years, and he has taken Marriott from a family restaurant business to a global lodging company with more than 3,700 properties in over 73 countries and territories. Known throughout the industry for his hands-on management style, Mr. Marriott has built a highly regarded culture that emphasizes the importance of Marriott’s people and recognizes the value they bring to the organization. Today, approximately 300,000 people wearing Marriott International name badges are serving guests in Marriott managed and franchised properties throughout the world. Marriott International is also well known as a great place to work and for its commitment to diversity, social responsibility and community engagement. It has consistently been named to Fortune Magazine’s lists of most admired companies and best places to work. Why? What makes Marriott such a great place to work and experience the mammoth success it earns and the respect of their guests? They have a plan. I feel any dealership can receive (although not quite the scale) a similar success story and report card if only the dealership would operate utilizing Bill’s rules of success listed below.  If they did, all of a sudden the dealership just might find that it has become a better place for people to work and for people to purchase vehicles and consequently, begin growing their business to unexpected increases. Bill...

A Dealership Colonoscopy

We Must “Inspect” to Ensure Healthy Positive Growth Dr. Werner Heisenberg (1901 – 1976) was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the ‘uncertainty’ principle of quantum theory.   In plain English (sort of), the principle says that it is impossible to determine simultaneously the position and velocity of a particle. This is due in part to the fact that ‘observations’ on a system ‘influenced’ the system being measured. How does this relate to business management?  The Heisenberg theory simply states “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.”  When you understand that the system and ‘practice of measurement’ does exert a psychological influence on the people being measured, that, in and of itself, affects the operating results.  Part of the control process is measuring people and processes. The measuring action alone works like the Heisenberg Principle and affects the results. Measuring systems, people or processes should focus on the ‘activities’ to insure the desired results.  Communicate priorities to your entire team. What is important to the manager then becomes important to the employee, and what the manager does not give attention to is perceived as unimportant by the employee.   Choose it or lose it.  The Key here is to make certain you are checking on the correct things.   I particularly like what Sam Walton practiced – Management by walking around, seeing and hearing what was going on.  Or inspecting instead of simply expecting.  He could have chosen to sit in his office and guessed at outcomes or become dependent upon his managers to tell him their ideas of...