Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated!

If I offered you a crisp, clean $100 bill, with absolutely no strings attached, would you take it? What if I folded it in half? What if I crumpled it up in a ball? What if I dropped it in the mud and then stepped on it? Would you still take it? YES YOU WOULD. Why? Because there is nothing you can do (other than burning it to ashes) that would devalue the $100. Even if it has been stepped on and thrown in the mud, it is still worth $100.

If the crowd you regularly hang around with would be perfectly fine if you did not show up. You are tolerated. If the people at the church you attend don’t reach out to you or care to come up to you and have a conversation, you are tolerated. If the boss does not acknowledge you, even though you do a good job, you are tolerated. I am sure there are hundreds of examples but I am confident you get the picture.

I challenge all of you to see the value that each of you have. There are no duplicates of you. You are the one and only. Even if you are a twin, you are a unique one of a kind. Your fingerprints, conscience,  and DNA are proof that you are a one and only. Oscar Wilde nailed it on the head, when he said “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken”.  The crowd you hang around with can replace you but they can never replace you. Your church could replace you with another member but they will never replace you. And your boss can allow you to quit and they will replace you with another, but they will never replace you.

So, the next time you are feeling less than, ask yourself if you are in a place that simply acknowledges your existence –  aka tolerates you, or if you are in a place that celebrates you? Ultimately the choice is yours. Life can be much more fun and fulfilling if we are in a healthy environment. When you are celebrated, the crowd that you hang around with sees you coming and thinks “He’s/She’s here! YAY!”. When you are celebrated, you arrive at church and the people are thrilled to see you and talk to you. When you are celebrated, your boss takes the time to acknowledge you and your accomplishments.

Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated.

I love our people!

“Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.”

Okay, work with me here (all of you that are not from the greater Boston Area). There is something about that sign (and every city has its own landmark). When you see the Citgo sign, you know you are in one of the greatest cities in the world and right around the corner from the legendary Fenway Park. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, brings back great memories, and is just simply awesome. Ever since I was a boy (my wife might argue that I still am one), this sign has been a back drop for the home runs over the Green Monster. Somehow that backdrop also brings good summertime memories, and for anyone who loves Boston in general, the sign has huge value.

Some of you may not be as fortunate as I am in regards to employees. My employees are probably some of the best people in the business. Both personally and professionally. They have a bounce in their step, have tremendous integrity, are hard-working, like their job, and generally are happy to be alive. Sometimes I wonder if this was orchestrated or if is just by chance that this caliber people are working side by side with me every day. Either way, I’ll take it.

I challenge all of you managers, supervisors, and executives alike. Get out of your office. Say hello to all of your people daily. Call them by name. Get to know them. Carry their burdens (to an extent) and share in their victories. Trust them. Train them. This will help you keep them. You might find this to be a secret weapon, as many employees don’t quit companies, they quit supervisors, managers, and executives.

Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

She is so nice! So What!

If we had to change the channel to our TV and the remote control did not work, would we say “but it is so nice!”? Or “But it looks so good”? No we would not. We would be upset to some degree that the remote control was not doing its job. If its job is to change the channel, turn the power on, or to shut the power off, that is just what we would expect.

In the workplace you might be shocked that we do not think along the same lines. We hear so many times about people being nice, handsome, pretty, or that they are a good guy/gal. When did any of that seem to matter. In the interview, I am sure we do not say to the prospective new boss  “as long as you don’t mind, I will plan to be nice and look good, I don’t really think that I’ll accomplish anything”. We would never be hired if we did so. The interview and onboarding is usually littered with tasks that are expected of the person, the company policy and procedure, and other mundane but necessary items to cover. In fact each job has a job description that clearly outlines the expectations. In those documents, it does not read “be a good guy”. Don’t get me wrong; WE EXPECT YOU TO BE A GOOD GUY/GAL. We expect you to be nice. We expect you to be polite and courteous to your fellow peers. But, we hire to get a job done first, and expect you to be nice second. Nice and incompetent do not get the job done, but competent and nice do.

We all need to remember, that the remote control is basically useless unless it does what we expect it to do and ultimately what we bought it for. When it stops working, we discard it and get another.

Be reliable. Be the person who is indispensable. The one the boss leans on. The one that goes over and above and does exactly what you were hired for (and more). AND, be nice and look your best. But first, be competent.

Music to my ears!

I recently heard of a Sales Consultant resigning from his job. His previous 6 months had been full of poor performance and his boss had challenged him with an ultimatum; to get results. He had stated many personal concerns that seemed to have clouded his ability to perform even the most menial of tasks that lead to a sale. He openly admitted that he “knew” what needed to be done. I could have done X, BUT. . . I would have been able to do Y BUT . . .

I’m no doctor but it sounds like a simple case of BUTgitis. We all can learn from this simple diagnosis and get our BUTS out of the way before it becomes an epidemic that is highly contagious; BUTgitis. This disease is so contagious, that it only takes a day of constant exposure to make someone susceptible to its harmful effects. The word but, is really a way to justify a lowly position, poor results, and a personal mistake.

Successful people use their setbacks and failure as fuel to get to the next level. Nothing makes them work harder than a little adversity, challenge, setback, or otherwise. Successful people have a bounce in their step that screams “follow me! I am going somewhere”. They have positive body language. They have that look in their eye that they are on to something bigger than their current position in life. They have goals they want to achieve. The goals are written down and reviewed. They set mid-course corrections to get back on track. And most of all, they don’t quit when it gets rough, even though every fiber within them tells them to do so. These people also admit when they are wrong. They step out and say they could have done better. They take the blame and never pass it on to someone else. These little flames ignite into a huge fire within to win the race set before them. And that ladies and gentlemen, is music to my ears!


New Year’s ReVolution!

“Join the revolution this year, instead of repeating another year of disappointments.”

I find it very interesting (and frustrating) to hear a great many people speaking of the year coming to a close in a negative fashion. They not only speak of it to anyone who will listen, they post it all over social media. What is the underlying theme they are talking and posting about? In general most people seem thrilled it is over (I understand some had life altering year that may have been full of tragedy and pain. I am NOT speaking of these people). Some willingly say goodbye to 2017 as if, magically 2018 will be full of greatness and reward and blessing and riches just because it is a different calendar year. Hogwash. If they are honest, 2017 did not disappoint them, they disappointed themselves and it is convenient to blame it on a block of time called 2017. There is no magic 8-ball, no genie in a bottle, and certainly no free handouts that get you to the top in this great country. Some may feel that is not fair. That is true. It is flat out difficult at times. But in these difficulties, we can grow, we can learn, and we can become better if we are looking to.

Successful people set goals, look forward to another year of opportunity, and look inward to learn from their past failures, frustrations, and set backs. Be that person. Set specific goals, create action plans to obtain the goals, and review them often. Look for opportunities (they are usually disguised as problems) and look inward at your stumbles and work on changing you. If you are bold enough to dream big, you will break the cycle in 2018. Join the revolution this year, instead of repeating another year of disappointments.

Smile, You’re on Candid Camera!

Effort speaks volumes. If someone is truly putting in the effort and their results are lacking, I will walk over burning coals to help them succeed (figuratively of course).

Okay, not really. No real cameras or practical jokes are waiting. But every day in the car business (and presumably every other business), we are measured on the snapshot of our day, week, month, and year. We are measured in performance, we are measured against our peers, and we are measured against like brand/like sized stores. In the car business there are thousands of angles that we can take the “photo” from. With that said, it still baffles me when managers and employees alike, think that they do not have to perform and still expect a position within the company. Their statistics are always keeping watch. In sales we can see how many outbound and inbound emails and phone calls are made, how many prospects were in front of them in person, where in the sales pipeline they are with each guest, and more.

Effort speaks volumes. If someone is truly putting in the effort and their results are lacking, I will walk over burning coals to help them succeed (figuratively of course). I will work along side them and help them to achieve increases month over month and ultimately year over year. But if someone is giving me lip service, no matter their title, it shows me they may feel entitled to some level of income without effort. Imagine this; you go on an interview and say to your prospective boss “I plan to be a few minutes late each day, I plan to have minimal results, and I definitely will put in minimal effort. . .can I have the job?”. Who would hire you? Well, why then do people feel they can fall back in to that behavior without serious consequences. This new year, set some goals to perform diligently every single day. Reach higher, strive for more, and enjoy the fruits of your success. And yes, you should smile, because ultimately you are on Candid Camera.

Show them. Don’t just tell them.

Leaders lead. Leaders “show” and tell. Then they allow (and require) the person learning to do the action themselves until they understand it, execute accurately, and have a positive result

I once witnessed a motivational speaker take a volunteer from an audience and ask the person to “tell” him how to use scissors. The volunteer could not use hand motions, could not pick up the scissors, and could only use words. It was hilarious. The volunteer gave up after a very funny 10 minutes. The point? To show the audience that “telling” people what to do may not work out as well as we thought.

We see this in the car business (and sales in general) very frequently. Meetings are full of information only (and glossy eyed listeners). The meetings are full of “do this and do that, and don’t do this and don’t do that” (I am sleepy just typing the words). The problem with using words alone, is that we all hear things differently. We all have had different experiences in life and those experiences shape how we think the person asking wants it done. If you lined up 10 sales people and gave instructions to all of them to demonstrate the features and benefits of a product to a customer, it would be a miracle if any of the 10 did it the same way (it would be a miracle if each of them could name features and/or benefits at all). This is not only a problem, it is an epidemic. So, who’s fault is it that the sales people do not thoroughly know the features and benefits and that they cannot demonstrate? Glad you asked.

Leaders lead. Leaders “show” and tell. Then they allow (and require) the person learning to do the action themselves until they understand it, execute accurately, and have a positive result. When and only when that happens can we give a verbal instruction to the person regarding that particular point. If the sales and service managers would lead and do this on every process the department has, there would be a revolution at the dealership. So, demonstrating exactly what you want from them each and every time. Once that happens, two things will happen. One, the employees will begin doing what you want and have a expected result. Or two, you will know exactly how to counsel them based on what they are not doing that you have clearly showed them. Let’s lead in 2018 and put our business above the competition by putting the team first and equipping them to succeed by telling, showing, and allowing them to duplicate before sending them to the wolves.

Jammies in Public?

My morning ritual, as does many of yours, includes coffee. And lots of it. As I was leaving the bistro where I get my morning fix, two people were walking in with their PJ’s on. It made me begin to think of how far we have come (or slipped) as a society and why dressing for success is important. Just 50 or 60 years ago, people would wear a shirt and tie to a baseball game, never left the house not fully dressed, and would never think of going to get a coffee in their pajamas. Today, people show up for job interviews in blue jeans, sneakers, unshaven, smelling of cigarette smoke, hair unkempt, etc. There is nothing wrong with Blue jeans or the rest of the list I mentioned, but there is a time and place for everything under the sun. There is a logical order of things in human nature. We were not given noses on the top of our head, as it would get tricky when it rained out. There was order in the way we were created and there is (or should be) order in the way we live in society. If you absolutely need to wear your PJ’s (and the only reason I would think that you NEED to wear your PJ’s in public is that your house was burning down and you needed to escape the flames) to the coffee shop, go through the dang drive through.

What is my point? Glad you asked. My point is directed to the people looking for more out of life. Invest in you. First, invest in a good set of clothes that make you stand out from the crowd (not too hard these days when all you have to compete with is people who are sleep walking in their jammies). Better to buy one custom fit suit, a couple sharp well fit shirts, a tailor fit skirt, a sharp accessory, one or two ties that will yield you compliments, and a good pair of shoes, than to buy quantity for quantity sake. You will be far better off, feel better about yourself, ultimately spend less money due to the lifespan of quality garments, and gain the attention of others, if you dress sharply for success rather than just blending in with everyone else who buys any old shirt, coat, pants, skirt, cheap shoes etc.. In an interview, you will have a leg up on those who show up looking ordinary. In sales, you will have the respect of the client, rather than the judgment of the client. Coco Chanel said “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman”. Good advise for anyone wanting to stand out from the crowd.

Next I would encourage investing in books. Harry Truman said “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”. Start reading about people just like you, who started out just like you, but became much more than you. It is almost impossible not to pick up wisdom and nuggets of success when you read books from other ordinary people who overcame adversity and became successful in their own right. I have heard some people say that they cannot afford books. I say you can’t NOT afford to buy books. You must change your thinking in order to move forward in life. If you keep doing what you’ve always been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always been getting. Others say more commonly that they do not like to read. I do not like to brush my teeth but I still do it numerous times a day. Get over what you like and don’t like and begin to do what is necessary to change into the person you are striving to be.

So, when all else fails, you can still wear your PJ’s. Just wear them at home while you are reading a book that will help you get to where you want to go in life and take the time to get dressed before going out in public. You never know who you might bump in to. You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Caught in the Web?

Bill Belichick has just a few rules for the New England Patriots. One being “Ignore the Noise”. Sounds simple. Simple it is, but easy it is not. I once heard a saying that a wise person takes something difficult and make it simple and a fool takes something simple and makes it difficult. Too many of us have been entangled in the web of corporate gossip, rumors, business politics, decisions we have no authority over, non-negotiables, etc. The simplicity of ignoring the noise can seem impossible in these situations. Let’s face it. There is nothing more juicy than gossip. We all feel we could have made a better decision than the person responsible for that decision. Heck, we have all probably played Monday morning quarterback and in just a few conversations we can solve all of the NFL’s problems the day after the game. Truth is, decisions are hard. They have consequences. Yes, sometimes a leader makes a wrong decision. Sometimes rumors and gossip do take our time and resources and focus. Sometime we do get caught up in “it”. The problem is, there will always be an “it” if we let it. And once we cave, or allow our team to cave, we have yielded to slowing our team down. Our team will be distracted. Our people will get discouraged. And ultimately, Our EBT will suffer. OUCH!

So, how about it? Start today. Let’s have the discipline to walk away from the gossip. Better yet to squash it. Let’s have the restraint from voicing what we would have done if we were allowed to make the decision that someone else made. Let’s have the fortitude to stop the rumors. Let’s start today to not worry an ounce over things in which we have no control. Let’s control what we have the control over. Let’s Ignore the Noise.

Photo by original_photography123 (Instagram)

Open the Doors to the Dealership

“I like to tell my managers to keep the main thing the main thing. APPOINTMENTS are one BIG main thing.”

Too many managers in the car business (and probably many other industries) get sidetracked from the main thing. They spend too much of their time telling and insisting that their people do things the “right” way. The problem is, the “right” way almost always is “their” way. I see it a bit different. There are certain parameters, processes, or daily routines that need to be followed. Take for instance, greeting a guest. It is most important that we greet every guest warmly and make them feel comfortable. “How” each employee executes is up to interpretation (as long as it is socially appropriate). Many managers get involved right there. Everyday. All the time. Stuck in the mud of “how” each employee executes, and stepping over the fact that they are in fact executing. It is surely the micro approach. It frustrates the employee and increases the turnover and decreases the gross profit. If an employee does not have the freedom within a process to be themselves, then the manager is simply spinning plates. Because once the manager is not watching, people are less inclined to follow that parameter, process, or daily routine at all. They need the freedom to respond in their own style, their own warm way, and certainly it will pay more dividends.

I like to tell my managers to keep the main thing the main thing. APPOINTMENTS are one BIG main thing. If the manager ensures that appointments are being booked in sales/service, then the door will open. The more frequently the doors open due to guests coming in, the more opportunity. When that happens, leave your people alone. If you have set processes in place, then let them do their job. Allow them to be themselves and follow the process. Don’t be hung up too much on the ancillary stuff. If a guest drives into sales/service, the employee will do his/her job within the processes that are in place. The other employees will then do their job, and ultimately the store will have happier employees and happier guests. SIDE-NOTE; if someone has strayed from a proven process that will create a calculated result, it is important to discuss and set them back on track. This is not to think freedom means full autonomy.

So, in closing, hire great people and set a solid process. Then get out of their way. You’ll find them to be much happier, which will bleed over to the guests and make their visit to your store that much more enjoyable. If you are to focus on any one thing, I would suggest driving the traffic to the store and let your well-trained people give your customers an experience far and above the competition. Whenever I hear a door opening in my store, I think to myself “opportunity”. So, set a plan in place for 2018 and get your doors to open . . .A LOT!

Photo supplied by original_photography123 (Instagram)

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