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Live By Process or Die By Process: A Message To Management

Dealers/General Managers and General Sales Managers, this is where the accountability starts: You and Process. I've not yet entered a store where the Internet business excelled despite management (ok, for more than one month). Heading into 2009, you must understand all of the fundamentals, be able to speak to the critical points with ease, know your vendors along with holding them accountable and stay up on what's happening in your store as well as outside.

The opportunity to hide behind anything that keeps you from being engaged with your online identity, understanding what your (Internet) sales staff is doing, knowing how your leads are being handled and taking part in how you message all of your customers has to end. In order to lead, be able to influence your staff and hold meaningful conversations with your sales team you must:

1. Embrace the web and your presence (likely for the same reasons you use the Internet)
2. Immerse yourself in learning, reading and understanding technology and the tools
3. Have complete transparency (logs, reports, analytics, vendor updates/meetings)
4. Validate the use and effectiveness of the web in everything you do

Stores are managed top down, period. People have faith when their leadership does the things that matter, support and recognize them. A few questions to ask yourselves:

Do I:
1. have a clearly understood web plan, marketing platform and the appropriate staff?
2. read magazines, e-newsletters and industry information that informs and validates the efforts?
3. take time to sit down with staff that handles my Internet business?
4. clearly define goals that make sense and hold people accountable?
5. support online efforts by staying in touch with both my staff and customers?
6. know at all times what my online brand, messages and staff are doing to promote completely?

It is not enough to put up a website, buy leads, plug in a CRM and wait for customer to run in. Think like a customer, act like a customer, ask like a customer, shop yourself like a customer and task your staff like a customer. Then you must make sure that you have a viable process and support it. Not half way. Not three quarters of the way. All the way.

Failure is not an option when you understand, plan and execute. Process is a great thing that breeds results. Process also shows areas of failure, possible improvement and validates all of your efforts. Remember, you can have the latest and greatest of everything but it won't matter if you can't back it up.

Make it your goal to set all of these things in motion now so your 2009 is something to talk about. More customers will enter your store online now than will ever physically walk into your dealership. Make sure you are 100% confident that those people will see and experience exactly what you want them to. Then do it over and over again...oh, and change your website a bit regularly just in case they actually spend some time on it...

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Views: 22

Tags: 2009, accountability, auto, budget, car, consulting, dealership, general, gm, gsm, More…interactive, internet, management, manager, marketing, online, sales, transerancy, vendor

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Comment by Ray McGowan on December 19, 2008 at 10:17am
All processes in any business are essential to measure who, what, where, how and why. Many "owners" still do not have an understanding of "true" processes and what they mean. I suggest they take a few books from Deming, Juran and a few others that offer solid results for change. I'm not going to tip-toe around the subject as I normally do: Dealers are in the dark and so are their managers. They talk a good game, but very few implement the changes necessary. It is essential for everyone in the dealership to be trained in TQM. They must understand "Kaizen" and what it means to their future. We could go on and on with this subject with no end result. Those relics that are working with the same "old" ideas need to grasp onto the future. I mean, last year I walked into a dealership that still had a dial phone in the showroom. How's that for being on top of the game?
Comment by Bryan Armstrong on December 18, 2008 at 1:57pm
Great post. Its ironic the only reason I became involved here was so I could "speak" with my e-marketing director and vendors without seeming ignorant; The more involved I become, the more I am grateful to those that so freely sharee their knowledge here and the more obvious it is that its an ever evolving market.
Thanks for the timely reminder.
Comment by Gary May on December 18, 2008 at 1:14pm
Thank you for the comments Ray, there is no choice going forward. Principals, GMs and GSMs must pay attention or their days are numbered. There will come a point in the very near term where the facts will be staring down too many operators and the inevitable will happen.

In my opinion (for what ever that's worth), management must become more accountable to the dealers and that leaves very few outs besides (1) leave, (2) learn (3) or do something else. Most of the time if you're a salesperson and you don't sell you have to go. It's time to say to managers, if you can't manage you must go.

It's not rocket science. GMs don't have to take over the website or program a CRM from scratch. Get involved or get passed. Water finds its own level and it is about time...

Thanks again!
Comment by Ray McGowan on December 17, 2008 at 5:47pm
Gary that was a wonderful read and touched upon topics that more upper management should understand. It's one thing to place a process like Stellar Dealer Performers or other process programs in a dealership, but unfortunately many upper level managers just don't seem to understand them (or don't believe they work). They have little "hands on" process training and most do not really comprehend the benefits of measuring everything to improve results. I applaud you on your writing this, it's just too bad that many managers and owners will not "get it."

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