Master the Art of Seeing Clearly to Create a Culture of Success
The Forest and The Trees
In the unforgettable words of New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra, "You can observe a lot by just watching." Perhaps hidden within that bit of classic nonsense is a more meaningful lesson: keep your eyes on the prize.
If you own or run a dealership or you are a vendor supporting dealerships, the prize is to gain and sustain market share. And the best way to do that is to understand, promote and deliver your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) to your employees, customers and partners, helping to clearly separate your business from the competition.
However, winning this prize requires a deep dive into your business. Whether it's an effort solely done by your in-house staff or with the assistance of an outside vendor, you will need to take an up-close and personal, as well as an over-the-horizon, look at all aspects of your operation.
I call this putting your business under the scope, and, whether you're a dealership or a vendor, there are three perspectives you must first observe and then analyze to help ensure success: individual performance (microscope), teamwork across the board (binoculars) and long-term vision (telescope).
Dealers -- Be grounded in data and metrics. Know your team's key performance indicators and manage to them. For instance, are your sales agents sandbagging their efforts for the next month to take advantage of a more favorable plan in place? Are their behaviors trending towards your goal or away from it? Look carefully at each performance, as well as your compensation plans and adjust as needed.
Vendors -- Be prepared. Don't just show up at your client's dealership. Make sure you understand their needs and pain points. Try to understand their goals and how they or their customers perceive value before offering a solution. Understanding a client's culture requires words matched to intentions and actions.
Dealers – This is the field general's 3-D view of what's happening in your store. Do Sales know what's going on in Service or Finance and vice-versa? Does everyone understand your brand and do they stay on message? When a customer talks to someone in your store is that information passed on to the rest of your team? Are you still operating within department silos instead of as a single team? In the words of Laurie Foster of Foster Strategies Group, "Locked doors only lead to divisiveness."
Vendors – To cite Laurie Foster once more, here's her insightful hashtag, which to me best summarizes the dealership-vendor relationship: "Better Together." As a vendor, you'll want to understand a dealership's strategy and how your client is executing on it, as well as how you can help their strategy succeed. Remember to look at how all the client's pieces fit together. Promote a culture of sharing. You want to be viewed not just as a line item in the relationship but truly as a partner. Whatever you seek to achieve, make sure it's a win-win-win and everyone emerges with a positive attitude of working together.
Dealers –The unexpected rise of Covid-19 propelled the dealership community to consider online retailing, perhaps sooner than many dealerships expected. However, a telescopic look isn't just about the technology ahead; it's also understanding what your employees and customers want to remain loyal. For an employee, it may mean the chance to work more from home; for a customer, it could be to travel further down the sales funnel on their own. A telescopic view also extends to how you support the local community. When a community is in trouble, there's always a dealer raising his or her hand to help out. Investing in your community is investing in your future.
Vendors – Ask yourself, what can you do to help your client increase revenues today, and, more importantly, over the long-haul? How can you provide more value to the dealership? Is it by offering a lifetime warranty? A reinsurance program to help them earn 100 percent of underwriting profits? Customized Sales and F&I products? When it comes to applying a telescope to a business, I like to think of the book and movie "Moneyball"; it was about drilling down on baseball metrics to help better set draft expectations and better predict career success.
I opened with words from the great Yogi Berra, the mystical sage of baseball. Better still are these wise words from another baseball player of yore, Satchel Paige: "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you."
Seeing is believing.