Ten THOUGHT LEADER Tips
It’s the journey, not just the destination. How many times have you heard that expression? At the end of the day, the only way to reach your destination is to make the journey—adhering to well-documented processes, maintaining consistency, and establishing efficiency along the way.
That’s what Scott Bergeron is all about. Daily Gameplan was built on the “consistent process performed daily” model and has proven itself time and time again in dealerships across the country, and through the recession of 2008.
Daily Gameplan has shown that old-school processes and new-school technology can complement each other, enhancing efficiency predictably and profitably.
Here are the Top 10 Tips of Bergeron’s consulting and coaching program:
Timely maintenance and checks—the best way to keep your car at peak performance—are often sadly lacking in dealerships.
Smooth-running dealerships have well-defined systems in place to keep close tabs on their sales forces, making sure everything is monitored and managed on a regular basis. Measurements are made using some form of key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify strengths and weaknesses—in essence providing a roadmap for where to stay the course and where to make improvements. It can truly be a matter of life and death in such arenas as the fire service, where constant vigilance helps ensure the health and safety of the public and firefighters themselves. While it’s not literally a matter of life and death in the auto dealer industry, it can be figuratively—as in the life or death of the dealership itself over time.
Camaraderie is critical but leadership is indispensable.
Find the sweet spot between the two to make your dealership as profitable as possible, and retain/cultivate the best sales talent. Too often, sales managers let off the gas when it comes to directing their salespeople. If there is resistance to a particular program or solution by the sales team, many managers fold to keep from alienating them. This is the same type of appeasement that would have awarded the world to Hitler if the English hadn’t come to their senses. Managers should manage, direct and where needed assert their influence on a reluctant sales team. Properly handled, the disgruntlement will dissipate—particularly when the results show improved numbers and compensation.
There’s no substitute for coaching and mentoring to train and retain good salespeople.
Just like NFL player development, raw talent needs guidance and education to mature and make a positive impact. No NFL coach would turn loose someone without coaching and mentoring. Why should auto dealers be any different?
Data tracks, measures, provides intel, but is only part of the picture.
If it’s not used to reinforce training, coaching and mentoring, it’s nothing more than “garbage in, garbage in,” according to Bergeron. Again, using the NFL analogy, watching game films and gathering comprehensive data on opposing teams’ performance are great tools to help transform good players into great ones—but not in a vacuum. This valuable information is a teaching tool that excels when combined with effective coaching and mentoring.
Familiarity should breed contempt.
If you’ve gotten too comfortable and satisfied with your sales systems and people, it’s time to shake everything up. Review periodically everything you’re doing to sell cars, from the team to the paperwork and processes. There’s huge danger in thinking you’ve got everything dialed in—especially when it comes to run-of-the-mill items. For example, have you reviewed your contract and financing forms lately to make sure they’re easy for buyers to read, navigate and understand? If you think this exercise isn’t important, ask United Airlines.
Bluffing is great in poker, but not in car sales.
Salespeople who try to bluff their way through their job will find the going getting tougher—if they work for a successful, growing dealership. That’s due to a smarter buying public, more sophisticated competition, and advanced metrics to measure performance. Bluffers have no place in modern auto sales, yet they’re still out there in droves gaming the system. Solutions for salespeople who know how to sell cars but don’t know their jobs are critical. It’s time to get them properly trained and motivated, or send them packing.
“Little stuff” makes a big impact.
Don’t ignore it. Or your dealership may wind up in the same situation as the Oscar presenters who pulled the wrong “Best Picture” envelope or the coder who inputted one typo that shut down a good chunk of the Internet for a day. Double down on details; it can help double up on sales.
Revolving doors are very efficient for office buildings but are death in the auto dealer industry.
A major sign of a tried-and-true dealership is the longevity of its people. Even if the average customer comes in once over a period of years, ongoing exchanges between a salesperson and buyer can build long-term loyalty. Seeing sales turnover resembling “revolving doors” can be unsettling to customers, extremely disruptive to smooth sales operations, demoralizing to the entire workforce, and unacceptably expensive to accommodate. The solution is to keep these people on board and gaining experience—and that takes ongoing coaching and consistent reinforcement of key processes and procedures.
Changing image requires changing habits.
To a substantial extent, auto dealers once perceived as hard-selling, high-pressure negotiators are now viewed as order-takers. More fully-informed consumers and a new generation of salespeople accustomed to answering basic questions and pulling up digital information about everything else have fueled this change. Plus, the zeal not to appear high pressure often boomerangs, with sales forces appearing so laid-back that prospects feel like they’re interrupting a talking or texting session in a corner. There’s a great happy medium, but new habits need to be instilled that capture the best of selling techniques, technology and ability to maintain a non-pressure demeanor. This requires consistent training, both to impart the appropriate methods, then reinforce/refine actual practices.
People receive and process information differently.
Training must offer multiple ways to access information in addition to basic preach-and-teach and one-on-one discussion. Some prefer digital communications; some prefer print. (Believe it or not, many millennials are stating preferences for print over digital materials.) Visual, auditory and kinesthetic communication preferences also vary by person; multiple modalities should be offered/accommodated. Bottom line, the message needs to stick and be regularly reinforced to turn new practices into firmly entrenched habits.