“I invested 90,000 dollars and listened to call scripts ALL weekend long, Sean. WHY is your store the ONLY one using the phone scripts!”Frustrated Dealer Principal
My frustrated dealer principal asked rhetorically when I was GSM of one of his nine rooftops. My reply was one word, “Coaching.”
One of the most significant complaints I hear from dealer principals and GM’s is, “I give them the technology and tools to be successful. If only my employees would use the technology, we’d invest in its maximum capacity! We would get much better results!” The fact is, from CRM to video tools, from social marketing to website add-ons, the dealer’s tech investment is grossly underutilized. As a result, dealers waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on technology that could provide a far higher return.
The purpose of this article and the reason for the presentation that Paul Sansone, Jr. and I are giving at the Texas Independent Auto Dealers Association is to help dealers understand the reasons this problem exists. We want to offer some actionable items for addressing these challenges and want for you to be able to coach the technology into the DNA of your dealership.
For complete implementation to take place, it is critical that each layer in the organization buys in, including everyone from dealer to GM to GSM to Desk Manager to the sales team…etc. When one-layer buys in, and the others aren’t involved, you put stress and frustration across the rest of the layers. It’s not uncommon for a GM who hasn’t bought in to cancel an “expense” when they weren’t involved in the decision and initial implementation. It’s not uncommon for desk managers who feel force-fed a new technology to refuse to use the tool.
Lack of Training, or Inadequate Training
Some vendors have a difficult time providing adequate training. This is because many vendor trainers didn’t get the showroom floor experience necessary to get the buy-in from the sales team. There are, of course, vendors who do a decent job of training, but the dealers’ attentiveness to the training can be a challenge. I call it cat herding syndrome. The ability to get the focus necessary and sufficient training is compounded when manager involvement is low. One problem with little manager involvement is that the manager cannot train on, coach on, or transfer the skills necessary to use the technology. Another is that if manager involvement is low, then doing something as mundane as running a car to the auction could trump the training from the vendor.
There are few vendors, if any, that have the time, money, and resources to contend with dealership turnover. Extreme turnover is one of the reasons kiosk car buying exists today. Turnover causes lousy customer experiences and lower customer retention. As it relates to this article, there is the cost of lost training time. If you have 20 salespeople and industry average turnover at 71%, there would be too much training required to keep up!
Lack of Coaching
Coaching is the most prominent leadership behavior gap in our industry. Few people can explain the difference between coaching and training, and even fewer conduct it as part of their leadership routine. If you develop managers into masterful coaches, then generating buy-in and accountability around tech tool utilization becomes second nature.
Managers have several challenges when it comes to time management. The random nature of the showroom floor causes managers to feel they can never gain control. The reactive nature of the business is perpetuated by massive causes and effects, which are a result of inconsistent routines. For instance, managers become pro-active one week and cause a significant amount of increased calls. It directly affects your routine as you drive more traffic and sell more cars. Now you have more deals to desk, customer complaints to address, and vehicles to replace for your lot. The average GSM has over 17 hours a day worth of management activities to conduct.
What happens when you combine the lack of adequate training, the absence of coaching, and the sub-par management of chaotic schedules? These factors create a situation where your managers have likely been in the same reactive state for quite some time. When we engage in the same activities for an extended period, we end up with behaviors and habits that are hard to break. Humans are creatures of habit and because of that, it makes it challenging to add new elements (such as new technology) to their playbooks. Change can foster a shrinking comfort zone for many people in each layer of a dealership and that’s where we see issues that need to be handled.
With all these challenges, what can we do?
Coach the technology into your dealership! Here is a list of powerful coaching questions that will help you decide if this technology even makes sense to adopt in the first place. These will also help you create an implementation strategy if you choose to move forward.
- Make collaborative technology investment decisions. Each layer of the organization should meet and discuss the idea. Share everyone’s concerns with adoption. How does adopting this new technology affect each stakeholder and user’s daily routine? What could the potential gains be if implementation goes well? What could it cost you if you try to implement it and it doesn’t work? Who will make the decision? When will the decision be finalized? Once a decision has been made, how will you sell it to your team?
- Review and revise job descriptions and routines. Now that you have decided to move forward, what new expectations does this technology create for each person on the team? Do any current activities or behaviors need to be replaced to make room for the new ones? What is the lowest value activity from your current routine you could delete or replace to make room for the new one?
- Create a training schedule that involves both the vendor and your employees. Who will be your champion for the latest technology or tools? How will this champion drive internal utilization? What is the experience level of the trainers from the vendor? How often will the vendor conduct training? How will you ensure all managers are proficient at using the tool? When, where, and how often will you conduct internal training around the tech tools? Who will perform the training exercises?
- Set KPI’s to measure adoption, growth, and success. What are the leading indicators, or behaviors, that identify people using the technology, or who the front-line users are such as managers, trainers, or senior leaders? What results should you see? When should you see these results? What is your current baseline for each of these metrics? How will you track these? When will you review the metrics together?
- Weave coaching into the leadership’s routine. Are your managers’ trained coaches? If not, how will you get them this critical education? What obstacles could individual performance coaching, metric coaching, or turn around coaching help overcome? Who will coach the managers moving forward? How will you measure the return on investment for the coaching time?
- Ensure that there is reward, recognition, and accountability. What would 100% adoption mean for your team? What would it mean for you? How will it positively impact your career and the career of each person on the team? How will you recognize them for accomplishing this? What accountability measures will be taken if action plans are not followed? How will you hold each accountable for their actions around the new technology and new routine?
When you can adequately answer each of the coaching questions above, act on those opportunities, you will be able to coach the technology into your dealership. Once you do this, you can generate a return on your investment you want out of the technology you invest in. Feel free to reach out with additional questions or to receive coaching on this challenge email me firstname.lastname@example.org you may also call my office at 1-888-921-0221