Go to any automotive conference, in any town and you’ll be hearing a lot of buzz about “disruption.”
Dealers and their staff are getting more access to content and sessions focusing on those successful companies that have garnered the good fortune of being handed the label. You know the ones… Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, etc. They are the focus of our industry as we struggle to keep our heads above water and our stores profitable. How can we evolve our models to be more like these companies?
I have said it on numerous occasions when asked about my personal take on our industry, “We are propelling ourselves towards the things we fear most through our own bad habits.” It fits nicely with all this talk of disruption, as the only way for dealers to truly stay relevant is to be “disruptive” in their own thinking.
Focus on the experience
This means it’s time to truly focus on the Customer Experience or “CX.” Dealers will tell me all day long that they are in the people business, not the car business. I would challenge that. The reason I do is because the last thing I see dealers focusing on improving is their store’s CX.
We attend conferences to strengthen our marketing techniques, employ software to increase profitability, build new departments (BDCs), all to make things better at the store. We don’t look at these solutions with the customer in mind when they are physically at the store.
Smart dealers are moving to managed floors. When you think about how many in the industry look at managed floors with disdain, you could argue that it’s because it’s a radical departure from the norms of our current processes and culture. Could it be labelled “disruptive?”
We have no shortage of content when it comes to explaining all the benefits of implementing a managed (closed) floor in your dealership. What can we say? We believe in the process. Not only does it ensure every walk-in makes it in to your CRM, but it also allows the sales team to better manage the 5.5 hours a day that they are not in front of a customer.
Myths arise when there is a lack of understanding of how something works. That’s why, despite these benefits, there have been some myths about a managed floor that we’ve heard going around. We’d like to take the time to address them. Perhaps with a clearer assessment of the facts, more dealers can make small changes towards evolving their CX in a positive way for their business?
Myth #1: A managed floor doesn’t reward the aggressive sales people
First, let’s define what an aggressive sales person is. When you think of an aggressive sales person what do you see?
Are they the ones who spend their day standing on the point watching the lot? Is it the rep who waits for opportunities to come along and possibly burns those ups when they aren’t an easy sell?
Is it the reps that are cultivating their relationships and building more business in the showroom, on the phones, or even in the service drive? Is it the person who is reaching out on social media, networking, or creating videos to bring people into the dealership?
The problem is not that the aggressive sales reps are not seeing enough opportunities or not being rewarded. The problem is our perception of who our power players truly are. It doesn’t take any drive or hunger to wait around for something to come in.
A managed floor sets clear expectations and accountability of where everyone on your team should be at any given time of the day. The sales reps are given a process or structure that allows them to focus on managing their time, not only when they are in front of a customer but, more importantly, when they are not. It allows your truly aggressive sales people to do what they do best: bring in business.
Myth #2: I’ll lose my good sales people
But will you? If an employee quits because you decided to implement a process that required them to keep the CRM updated, manage their time wisely, and create a consistent customer experience in the dealership, would you really be sad to see them go?
You are building a team of employees who can all contribute to the success of your dealership. If you are completely reliant on a single employee to make the numbers every month, there might be a bigger problem than just your sales process.
Losing an employee because they don’t want to follow your rules is not something you should fear. Hire someone who will.
Myth #3: It just didn’t work for us
Ok. But, what was your implementation like? Was everyone on board? Were the expectations clearly communicated and documented? Did management continue to coach and hold everyone accountable?
With any new process, there need to be clear expectations set and consistent follow through. Imagine if your parents said, “Yeah, we tried to teach him to walk but he just kept falling all over the place. We figured it wasn’t for everyone.”
As management, it is your responsibility to create the process and to push through all the bumps along the way. With any new process, technology or change, there is an adjustment period. But you can’t give up every time your team doesn’t follow the process or the ship gets a little of course.
A managed floor not only gives the sales people their time back but gives management the freedom to really dive into any opportunities for improvement and truly manage their team more consistently and effectively.
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Anything that is disruptive enough to give your dealership a competitive edge and move your store’s CX in the right direction is going to prove invaluable. It’s time we start to challenge ourselves to think and act differently instead of propelling ourselves towards the things we fear the most.