What can you turn off to give you more time?
Let’s address the basics. The key to finding time is working smart, and putting smart systems in place that lighten your load. In turn, this gives you more time to do what you signed up for in the first place—to grow your business.
There’s an entire industry built around making automotive dealerships successful, and most “experts” will tell you that there is no magic bullet. Then, of course, there are a select few who in their self-promotional fervor will try to convince you that their solution is the elusive cure-all. In my experience, there are a variety of systems, processes, and inspections tailored to specific organizations that make the big dogs (the focused) bigger. Inability or unwillingness to use these is what keeps the little dogs (the unfocused) chasing their tails.
Old-school basics that still work
Let’s talk about the good old days for a minute, and why the basics of your initial success lie in traditional cornerstones. It’s always fun to listen to talk about the glory days. These were much simpler times, and the rewards were often instant, at least in comparison with the tech age.
When you think about all the deals you made, and all the customers you still have from back then, you have to pat yourself on the back for doing a lot of things right. You had your own methods that worked, and worked well. You had boatloads of repeat and referral business that made it all look easy. And no matter if those “good old days” stories might get stretched a little, the fact remains that you made it happen with minimal technology, and definitely without Facebook, Instagram, multiple websites, and search engines.
The reality is that those glory days of being back on the sales floor need to be replicated with others on your team – being able to show others how to do what you did, and to show others the systems and techniques that you used to make yourself successful. Your sales team and organization as a whole are really reflections of the systems you currently have in place, and the expectations you put on your team.
Technology alone will not save you time
What??? Shouldn’t today’s cutting-edge technology, smart phones, search engine optimizers and multiple lead generators make it easier for us to make more deals? The reason technology alone doesn’t help is that your customers have the same technology too, and you as a dealer are now forced to manage more systems in the same amount of time. More systems means more processes, and a potential case of A.D.D.
If technology were the answer to your time management issues, it would be as simple as buying an app for your phone or buying the latest CRM or other software. Being able to use technology in a smart way is to combine it with a common-sense approach that allows you to manage all the systems, including your internet systems, without getting bogged down.
A big-time lesson in time management
I lost one of the most important men in my life this year. My Uncle Jerry was extremely successful in his life, both professionally and personally. He was married for 43 years, raised 7 children in beautiful homes, had incredible toys, including his prized possession, his 42’ Grand Banks Trawler Yacht. He also had a chance to travel extensively around the world, and was so passionate to tell you about all the adventures he “was so lucky” to have had. To listen to his life, you’d think he was some big shot real estate mogul, or a New York City hedge fund manager. But the truth wasn’t that at all.
Jerry was a landscape contractor—not a profession most consider hitting the big time, but his chosen industry didn’t matter. What he did, and how he managed himself and his time mattered, and was a primary reason he was so successful.
Jerry’s company stayed relatively small, but very specialized. They specialized in building baseball, football, and soccer fields. They build many famous NFL and MLB ball fields here in the US, as well as soccer fields in Europe. I had a huge advantage of working for Jerry during my high school summers mowing ball fields. It was the 1970s and the lesson he taught me one hot summer afternoon still rolls through my head today.
Jerry pulled up to the fields one day, and I decided to pop off to him about how his crew was “actually doing all the hard work, while he was JUST driving around in an air-conditioned Thunderbird.” He pulled me aside and said something I’ve always remembered: “If I could run my business by pushing a lawnmower, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But I can’t. It isn't the best use of my time. That’s why I hire you guys. Growing my business is what I do, and it pays a lot better!”
Jerry’s point remains valid to this day, no matter what industry. We are paid as business owners to take care of and grow our businesses. The fact is, we all need support systems that run reliably to make sure all tasks and details that contribute to business growth are handled by the team that works, and reports, to you. The real key to having time to make deals is finding more time in your day. If you continually spend your time selling cars, or appraising trades, or wholesaling aged units, you don’t have time to grow the business.
The difference in running your business, and growing your business
If you are focused on the day-to-day operations, tasks that others could do for you, you may not have the time to spend on strategic planning. If you continue to major in the minors, then plan on staying in the minors. Major in the majors and the sky’s the limit.
Differences between big dogs and little dogs
Another way of viewing big-picture versus small-thinking dealers can be summed up by describing the differences between big dogs and little dogs.
While building my company, Daily Gameplan, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with thousands of dealers and managers from new, pre-owned, powersports, watercraft, and RV industries. I've met, and talked with successful, and not so successful owners and managers, and they consistently fall into one of two categories:
Category 1. The Big Dogs - The dog wags the tail - They major in the majors
Category 2. Little Dogs - The tail wags the dog - They major in the minors
The difference between the two distinct business owners becomes evident when examining each of their priorities. Both types of dealers and managers generally have the same abilities, talent, background, and selling skills. Again, it’s how they spend their time, and how they stay focused on ideas that promote growth that makes one succeed over the other.
In virtually every case, it's the least successful that keep doing minor and trivial things with their time, while letting their people and systems manage them. Successful managers and dealers assign the smaller projects and tasks to others, and stay focused on growing the business and taking care of customers. It’s so basic, yet there are many dealers out there who can do so much more with just a change in their focus.
Do the math—and see how much extra time you can find
Take an old fashioned 3 x 5 index card, or if you're a techie, use a note in your smart phone, and keep track of your hours for an entire week. Break down each task you’ve handled into one of three categories:
Category 1 - Is this something only I can do?
Category 2 - Is this something someone else can do?
Category 3 - Is this helping me grow my business?
If you find yourself performing too many tasks others should be doing for you, change it. If you want to grow your business by 20%, find 20% more of your time to devote towards implementing systems and ideas to grow the business. Let others take care of the day-to-day maintenance of your existing business. Check in and keep others reporting consistently with their KPI's (Key Performance Indicators).
Today’s biggest distractions that waste your time
Do you change your train of thought every time a bell goes off? What about a chime, a buzzer, a ping? C’mon, these things will wait. You do not need to deal with your voicemail or email every time ANY notification comes up. So, shut off all the pings, buzzers, alerts, and take care of them in a way that doesn’t distract from your big-picture focus.
Another time-saver is to set up your email inbox with forwards and folders that prevent having to touch each email. You can also auto-forward certain emails to others if you know what it is about. For example, any subject line that contains the word “service” could be automatically forwarded to your service department, keeping you from ever touching that document.
Set aside certain times, such as 10 AM and 2 PM to open and handle your email, or assign someone to complete the task. Everything in between can wait, and if you have someone else handling your email and there is an emergency that requires your attention, they'll tell you.
Delegate, and build systems that keep the trivial away from your desk. Stay on task, and don't let others sidetrack you. Stay focused on the big picture, and the little things will be taken care of, if you hand them off to others AND consistently inspect their KPI’s. You are the leader of your organization for a reason. Be smart with your business and your time, and it will pay off in incredible opportunities in the future.
This article was written for & published by NIADA:
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