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For decades now, dealerships have gotten by with ‘self-reporting’ their financial performance, using very subjective methods and rarely adopting automation. I call this 'fake news.' I say this as it is similar to what has become somewhat of a buzzword of late for the type of yellow journalism that writes and publishes with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially, politically or to grab attention.
It's often said that history is written by the victors. Perhaps that's true, but I think that history is written by the people who wrote it down first and then had the means to distribute that information widely.
The same is true in business. In retail automotive, department managers report to their GM, GM’s report to owners or principals, and in many cases individual stores are reporting to a larger dealership group infrastructure.
But what, exactly, are they reporting? Currently the methodology of reporting of data is a fiercely debated topic.
When managers ‘self report’ on their performance, whether it be in a weekly meeting, or a month end report or quarterly review, there are far too many data elements that can be swayed one way or another to paint a picture that the 'self reporter' wants to portray.
We see this time and again with weekly reviews that are a bit too rosy; for example, when the self-reporter counts deals that are in pending status as final, and the projection of sales is based off of fuzzy logic.
The goal of the “self reporting” manager is to make himself or herself look good at that moment. But the true strength of data analytics and business intelligence lies in its ability to help leaders make more informed, effective, and insight driven business decisions. These two goals often conflict. Do you really want to make important projections based on fake news?
When it comes to reporting on financial performance, the unvarnished truth and a plan of action is most important. The days of manually created reports and self reporting are at an end. There are a handful of systems and tools available now to all dealerships that will allow them to improve their operations through more automatic and objective reporting. These tools provide a single version of the truth!
So don't get caught watching the paint dry. Create a business environment that promotes analytics as a core capability while fostering a culture of data driven decision making. Empower your people to change the way they do business by injecting data analytics into their decision-making process.
Dealership reporting has finally come of age and leaders should spend their valuable time thinking about what the information means rather than spending valuable time compiling and curating it. Single version of truth reporting is here to stay!