Process, Process, Process

Impact GroupSo often I am asked by dealers and management, “How do we go about fixing our store’s processes and get business back on track?” At one time they felt they had things working but lost traction along the way somewhere. I am usually invited to pay a visit for a one-, two- or three-day event depending on the size and rooftops to perform what I call a CRM Process Analysis and Recommendation Tour.

Interesting things are discovered on my visits with various dealerships.

In some cases the store really had no well-understood processes in the first place. And in an effort to reach greater heights they are limited by confusion paralysis. Ready, shoot, aim is sometimes the directive of these stores because they don’t think things out. A good process in the first place could have propelled its people toward a new summit today. Without processes they are where they were except today. So, I make suggestions to minimize the bleeding and set forth processes to affect a new beginning of increased sales through CRM practices. Management buy-in is my top priority, then the sales team and the rest of the store’s employees.

By interviewing each manager and key player in the store I can usually identify strengths and weaknesses, which we can then build on pushing toward making those improvements. The store must be willing first to desire a better outcome and second commit to adhering to certain CRM standards. When they do it is amazing how the entire store’s morale changes and things begin to soar quickly.

I see processes that were pretty good at one time not being so good today. Why? One of the cornerstones of good processing is the ability to be flexible and continually make improvements on those processes. The greatest sin dealerships commit is when they start getting good they stop becoming better. Yep, the ‘we have arrived mentality’ sinks in and along with it comes complacency. This infecting disease runs rampant in our industry and usually begins with management. They forget to improve themselves and as a consequence the store and its people stop improving. Full-time improvement is mandatory for continued success. Just when you have a good month the next falls apart usually due to process defection and management looses its cool by giving deals away to satisfy the units placed and nobody makes money for the month. Then the next month comes around and because nobody received handsome checks they get into a fever of sell, sell, sell all over again without attempting to figure out what actually happened and put new correct measures in place so we get back on a brand new track.

I worked with these stores to look at where they came from and what made them successful, where they are today, where they want to be and finally offer recommendations as to how to identify new leading edge areas for CRM improvements. Then we set forth a plan to get us there.

Next are the dealerships that have recently implemented CRM software and are expecting great things. Often they expected the software to deliver them to the promise land and then realized it fell short of their expectations. Why? You got it, no people and process training beyond the software training. Sure they got all the stats and numbers to wring their hands over but no real results. The analysis paralysis takes over like the bird flu in the hen house and everyone starts pointing fingers. So, along with management I go about identifying all of the key processes I see required to offer steadfast lasting improvements. And, if I perform well enough they usually ask me back to train everyone on these new CRM practices and the leadership knowledge to really make it take wings. We enlist all team members to a big buy-in session simply because I believe in offering people good solid reasons for making some changes through adopting and adapting new processes.

Take the store’s new implementation vision and put it in action. Keep the vision alive and well touting it as a new day here and the future will be brighter for us all by adhering to these new processes with conviction and vision. Helen Keller was asked several years ago by an interviewer. “Ms. Keller what could be a more debilitating handicap than being blind?” Helen Keller replied; “Oh, that’s easy, it is not having vision.” And, that is the first step in living to your store’s full potential: enlarge your vision. See it happening for you. So, start your day with a new pair of glasses and then go out anticipating and envisioning good things to happen to you, your people and your store. Continue to stretch your store’s vision by asking everyone involved for improvement ideas. Keep them engaged in your processes by letting them forge new ones.

I also visit stores that finally recognize they must give in to giving up the old school tactics and taking on CRM measures. They need CRM software, processing and people training. When I identify the warts on their old ways I apply the medicine to rid them from the store hopefully forever. Some of these tactics are so demeaning to customers and staff alike the attrition rate hovers around 85 percent, CSI is down and sales are waning. Too bad it took this for them to say “So long to the status quo” and have them quit falling in love with below average. The good news is yesterday is gone and tomorrow will be here soon so lets be ready with a new face to our operations.

Impact GroupObviously this one takes the longest to correct and often it requires personnel changes because of the mediocrity that has so long been entrenched. I find myself sincerely applauding these stores for their willingness first to acknowledge their sins of past and then to risk the venture to new territories like the pioneers. Anytime I have a “change willing” client I want to go overboard ensuring their success because they are the ones who really it. These stores do have the toughest road ahead of them – lots of new things coming their way to soak up and perform on a regular basis. When they do make the commitment the climb up the mountain makes the view from the “success summit” just that much sweeter.

What each of the stores has to do is expect circumstances to change in their favor and expect people to go out of their way to help them get there. You can acquire the CRM process direction from a few new-school professionals who know what he or she is doing. When equipped with all the correct process tools all you have to do is pull them out of the toolbox and use them. Wherever new challenges are taking you always remember never to be a prisoner to average, say goodbye to the status quo and rise above all the adversity you may face.

Go forward and hold your head high on the lookout for new CRM opportunities for your store. And, remember failure is only postponed success. Failure just means you are at least trying to get it right. Excuses mean you are not even in the game. Thomas Edison failed to create the right filament for the light bulb 10,000 times, but with persistence he got it right eventually. We have to keep pushing our dreams in the direction of higher altitudes in life and risking new endeavors in order to rise to those new heights. Continue to improve in everything you do and become a leader pushing toward your dealership’s overall success.

Chuck Barker is CEO of his two companies Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC and Impact Summit, LLC both located in Virginia. His experience ranges from an executive with a Fortune 200 corporation, Harris Corp., to the automobile business where he has performed all management positions. His firms specialize in growing people and dealerships. He delivers Leading Edge Sales Training Programs, Customer Relationship Strategies, Management Leadership Workshop Programs and Dealer/Principal consulting assistance for the automobile industry.

Chuck Barker


Chuck Barker has been CEO of his two companies, Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC and Impact Summit, LLC, for the last 24 years, both located in Virginia. His experience ranges from an executive with Harris Corporation (16,000 employees) one of Fortune Magazine’s largest companies to the automobile industry where he has performed all executive positions. His companies specialize in growing businesses, dealerships and people. He delivers unparalleled sales & service development programs, management leadership workshop programs and dealer/principal business & profit improvement ideas for automobile dealerships. He has recently published the first comprehensive ‘in-house’ sales training solution program for dealers entitled The Dealership Success Guide.

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