Tech companies bringing digital retailing to car buyers across the country. A.I. engaging customers in record-breaking response times, even setting appointments. Automotive media has been broadcasting that 2018 was the peak for car sales and there will be a slow decline over the next year. With all these concerns, there is much uncertainty for people on the showroom floor. If unaddressed, this uncertainty leads to undue stress, lower performance, and even employee turnover.
What I want for you as a leader in the auto space reading this article is that you are able to create stability and trust around your business. After reading this article you should walk away with some practical tips to build a solid foundation of trust and certainty, amidst all the concerns. In this way you can drive more activity and employee retention and sales growth, in a sea of uncertainty.
Turn the focus inward!
Reactive business people spend a lot of time and energy focusing on things they can’t controll. As a leader in the auto industry it’s important to acknowledge threats and challenges. Yet, dwelling on such challenges without taking action is a detriment. Ask yourself and your team, “What can I do as an individual to grow the business? What can we do as a team to grow our business? What tools are we not leveraging to their fullest potential that could impact our results?” Posing questions like this will cause you to be proactive, because you will take ownership and action in your success.
Create a Mission
As a two time combat veteran who has been part of mission planning and tactical operations, I can’t speak enough to the importance of having a clear objective. After all, until you have a clear mission you can’t build a plan, a contingency plan, nor can you execute on that plan! At the dealership level, “sell more cars” is not a clear objective. Your mission needs to be more specific, and something you can get your team excited about. Ideally it would be a mission that would create the result which leads to the selling of more cars. For instance, you could say our mission is to “Build the strongest relationships with our customers!” Your mission could be to “Create the best possible customer experience in the industry from beginning to end and ensure the world knows about it!” Missions such as these create the desired result, and are something your people can get excited about and market to potential buyers.
Coach Individual Action Plans
A mission with a plan to accomplish it is much more likely to get done! I can’t even imagine what would have happened if, prior to kicking off a combat mission in Bosnia or Iraq, we hadn’t strategically discussed the game plan. Luckily, we would always draw a small mock up of our objectives, review what each elements roles were and delegate individual responsibilities. This clarification of personal expectations and understanding of self responsibilities would lead to discussion on expected outcomes. While planning some outcomes would look grim, we could create a contingency plan. If plan A doesn’t work, we would always have plan B. This leads to confidence, and confidence leads to success.
To remove uncertainty it is imperative you first build a team action plan to move the mission forward. In addition, sit down with each member of your team and co-create individual strategies to accomplish the mission. In doing so, they will value the time and effort you are putting into their growth. They will realize the value you are putting on the mission, and them as your people. You will tap into and leverage their individual strengths in this way. When people operate in the realm where they are strong, it creates confidence.
Now you’ve turned the focus inward and everyone’s being proactive by controlling the controllables. Your employees are taking ownership and buying into a mission that will impact your results. Finally, you’ve clarified team expectations and individual responsibilities, and everyone has action items on which to accomplish and achieve! All that’s left to do now is enjoy your new found island of confidence, ownership and success in a sea of uncertainty.