Can you define the meaning of the noun accountability as you might use it in your work environment?
We all think we know what it means, and each of us reacts differently when hearing it spoken to us. That response is likely different if it’s the boss talking about its virtues or porters discussing the personal concerns it raises with them.
But in the critical part of your business called used car operations, the practice of accountability results in more predictable and accurate outcomes. Now it is possible to adjust day-to-day activities and decisions — particularly reconditioning — proactively to your market. In other words, what the market is telling you about tomorrow’s hot opportunities so you can adjust the recon workflow to get those vehicles frontline ready first.
We talk a lot about this in vehicle reconditioning — and rightly so. It’s part of the car business not known for being buttoned down. That’s a shame because accountability or tracking the details of the recon practice to your cars ready to sell is critical to how well your used car operation performs. Is your recon process tracking and holding responsible the people you pay to run an orderly ship “back there”?
Fixed operations usually take the brunt of “accountability” for a used vehicle, our vice president of sales, Keith Brice, reminded me the other day. (Before joining us six years ago, Keith spent 30 years in dealership fixed operations and as controller.)
For example, he said, who’s accountable for moving cars into the first steps of your recon process? Anytime a used car manager lets a trade sit for a day or two in the bullpen or otherwise parked and forgotten, fixed typically gets blamed for that lost time. This used car manager costs you money; this neglect would stop if your recon processes defined their accountability — or lack of it.
Fixed doesn’t take ownership until variable has completed its job.
“I always tell my potential customers, ‘You’ll never lose a vehicle or be surprised because once the vehicle is in the recon system, it’s captive, someone — an individual — now ‘owns’ that vehicle,” Keith said.
I like the late management consultant Stephen R. Covey’s take on accountability: “Accountability breeds response-ability.”
At university, I was part of our rowing team. We learned through a determined coach to synchronize our oars if we wanted that shell to achieve its target sooner than our competitors’ boats. Everyone had to know their part or parts and listen well for the coxswain’s knocker’s rhythmic hull beats.
The accountability coxswain in reconditioning software alerts your reconditioning crew about critical workflow checkpoints, step notifications, flags, work item notes and concerns. Now they can course correct in real-time. We have a saying here, “Connect to what you expect.” Accountability, whether a software mechanism or a rowing coxswain’s rhythmic shout, helps complete the connection — faster time to line and speed to sale.