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)

Resigned or Resolved

As I began to think about the difference between being resigned or being resolved, I realized they both kind of go hand in hand. Once a resignation is in the works, we are resolved to reach even greater heights in the new endeavor. In the late 1700’s, the English colonies resigned their support for the King of England and were resolved to gain their freedom. We all know how that played out and realize now the sacrifice that occurred to make it happen. The same principles are played out in our life when we resign to one way and resolve to another. When a resignation of employment is rendered, it brings joy and relief to one side and can bring surprise, anger, and/or resentment to the other. It is a choice. It is an end to one era and a beginning to another.  Some people are resigned mentally from their position long before the decision is ever officially made. Others work hard up to and through a resignation and if you were looking in from the outside, you would have a hard time deciphering if there was a resignation in the works at all.

Even if there is not an official resignation at hand, there are other things to resign from daily. In business, we need to resign from poor choices, wasted time, entitlement mentality, laziness, procrastination, and taking for granted the things we should be grateful for. We should resolve to simply give our very best each day and be good stewards over that which we have under our authority. We should resolve to put our heads down and be diligent with each opportunity, and not just simply exist in the time and space provided. Ultimately, we should be eternally thankful that whatever we are resigning and resolving to do, it is puny in comparison to the sacrifice and magnitude of the American Revolution.

Black Friday

As I began to think about why Black Friday is a success for many retailers, it became so obvious. They plan for it. They focus on it. They prepare for it. They have great enthusiasm for it. They advertise for it, and ultimately they have great results. Many people in the car business just keep doing what they did last week, last month, and last year. The customer is bored, the staff is bored, and the bottom line reflects the lackadaisical approach that many Sales Managers, Service Managers, and General Managers take to growing and sustaining their business.

Truth be told, we get just about what we focus on. That is why we create action plans, forecast our month and even our year, and have written goals to run after. After all if we do not focus on growing our business daily, we could be swimming in the red ink, or barely in the a profitable situation. So let’s take a page out of the retail industry. Let’s plan for it. Let’s stay focused on it. Let’s prepare for it. Let’s have great enthusiasm for it. Let’s advertise for it, and let’s have great results all the time like every week was Black Friday.

Don’t Shoot Until You See the Whites of Their Eye

One very common mistake many leaders in the automotive industry (and probably all other industries) make, is they criticize and tear people down before earning the right to speak into their lives. These are not leaders. They are tyrants. They are used to bullying their way to some level of success, if you will. But if an employee feels you have their best interest in mind, they will be all ears. Have intentional one on ones. Have a cup of coffee together. Ask them about their life. Ask them about their job. Ask them if there is anything you can do personally to help them succeed. Do it often. Once you spend enough eyeball to eyeball time, you will have earned the right to be frank with them concerning their performance, attitude, or otherwise. Remember that timing is everything. Once you recognize the open door, act upon the opportunity.

The employee’s trust must be earned through consistent action. Once that happens, you can speak into their life and they will not only hear you, they will listen and act. So remember to draw your people close to you. Close enough that you see the whites of their eyes. Then you can shoot (figuratively of course).

All Created Equal?

As I was visiting a Dunkin Donuts recently, I asked myself why does this store run so smoothly, and the one down the street not run smoothly?. The lady that took my order called me, and everyone else that she talked to “hon”. She was quick, polite and pleasant. The person making my bagel, did so quickly, and exactly as I ordered. It left me feeling as you would expect, satisfied. How about our businesses? Do we have the right people on our team? Do they covey the culture the leader desires? The truth is, we need to evaluate our staff and make decisions necessary to make it great. And quickly before we lose any more market share to our competitors.

So the answer is no. All businesses are not created equal, even if they share the same franchise name. The differentiator is almost always the people. Find the right people. Pay the right people. Keep the right people. Heck, we would not even be an independent country if it weren’t for the right people.


EBT Gains

This is the post excerpt.

Just as the sun rises and falls each day, so do our opportunities to maximize our financial statement in the form of EBT in the car business. However, for many, the day comes and goes and they don’t even realize that they have not been intentional in their activities that day to increase the bottom line. Sure, they showed up. They may have even “won” that day in their own mind. But unless their actions were decisive and decisions crystal clear, then I would argue that whatever level of success won, it was in spite of their seemingly weak planning and executing. In order to be successful in the car business (or for any other for that matter), it must be intentional. It must be planned, executed, and conquered. So as the week comes toward the end, make this week be the week you decide to take back your business and make a conscious effort to keep the main thing the main thing. Say no to the meaningless time wasters and say yes to the things that use your time wisely. Remember your time is nothing more than a bank account with minutes instead of dollars. How will you spend that time?