Remember when you were in grade school and you had to raise your hand to ask the teacher a question, get help, or to give your answer to the teacher’s questions? The shy students or under-achievers would sit at the back of the class and not participate while the smart and curious students would sit up front to learn, better understand, and get recognized as a great student.
Well, that was years ago, but not too much has really changed. Even in the automotive business, dealers have to raise their hand for many things—OEM assistance, training, program enrollments, marketing events, franchise opportunities, and sometimes more inventory. So why not raise your hand for other important areas of the business, like help with compliance, internal controls, processes, business improvements, and accounting issues? There could be three reasons why you don’t:
Dealers often get bogged down in business— operations, financials, performance reports, meetings, and the business of selling vehicles. They are not that close to the details, what’s going on behind the scenes, job functions, or all the rules and requirements. They rely on their management teams and employees who don’t always do things right or do all the things that are required.
Dealers think they don’t need help— they are not raising their hand, not asking all the right or tough questions to understand the details or to challenge their employees. They think everything is OK and correct. Think again.
Dealers’ nature or personality type— some dealers “roll the dice” and take their chances versus being proactive. They only want to deal with it when it happens, and inevitably suffer the consequences.
There is too much at risk for any of these mindsets. Compliance is a great example. It is the “new game” in town these days and should be amongst the top on all dealers’ top five priority list. Face it—whether it’s incentives, warranty, red flags, safety, or federal/state regulations, the consequences for non-compliance are very costly. A sales incentives audit can cause huge losses of earned money; a missed required security document or check-point could put your dealership at risk; improper reporting/payments to government agencies could create huge fines and additional penalties. The list goes on and on.
Help can come in many forms: an assessment, internal audit, performance review, or analysis of accounting records and business processes, for example. All should be done by an outside professional or your internal compliance officer. But the first step is to ask for it!
Smart dealers ask questions, get involved with the details and challenge their staff to do things right and push for the best results. They protect their assets and profits by knowing how they size-up, where the “holes” and risks are; then stay focused on compliance, improvements, and the bottom-line.
So, raise your hand; ask questions and get help. It will be one of the smartest things you’ve done this month.
Sherralyn Peterson is an automotive incentive specialist, with 30 years of automotive experience. She helps dealerships prepare for sales audits, conducts compliance reviews, reconciles receivable schedules, performs staff training and resolves incentives issues. For more information, call 312-310-8380, email [email protected],or visit www.sherralynpeterson.com.