Today, to provide the type of personal service consumers demand, we need software. While more progressive dealers and consumers whiz by using the latest tools, some dealerships get stuck in the “that’s the way we’ve always done things around here” mode.
You can put that epitaph on the tombstone of your dealership, or you can do something now to prevent that sad fate.
It starts with consumers because they’re the ones demanding we change, by changing their expectations of us. As consumers, we’ve willingly handed over our preferences, shopping patterns, wish lists and priorities, giving up our anonymity so businesses can use that data to customize communications with us. We no longer want just personal service. We want personal relevance. Here is an example.
“Talk with me about things I’m truly interested in hearing about, when I actually need to hear about them.”
“Talk with me.” Not to me. Give consumers options to respond, comment, ask questions, access information and make arrangements. In short, communications have to provide consumers with an engagement experience.
“Things I’m truly interested in hearing about, when I actually need to hear about them.” They’re saying, stop trying to sell me things I don’t want. However, if you explain why it makes sense for me at this stage of my vehicle ownership lifecycle, I might consider it.
Data is the underlying currency consumers are exchanging with you. Your dealership can enable the use of that data through software, empowering your people to sell and service with personal relevance.
Introducing or changing software can be difficult, in part because as humans we naturally resist change. Reduce resistance by addressing the underlying reasons why people are uncomfortable with change.
“I Don’t Understand Why We Have to Change.”
Even if you feel you’ve done a good job explaining why you need to bring in new software, it doesn’t count unless your people agree with the logic. Sure, they may be entrenched in the old ways of doing things or they’re old enough to call anything new a fad. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you have the rationale clearly stated and supported by facts that reinforce how you expect the software to perform for your dealership.
Address each individual who is impacted to ensure they get it, even if they don’t like it yet.
“I Don’t Know if I Can Do This.”
It’s not so much fear of the unknown as it is confidence, competence and capacity.
People learn at different paces and in different ways, which affects their confidence when learning new processes and retaining instructions. Reassurance, training accommodations and setting reasonable expectations go a long way toward making people feel convinced that they are going to be all right.
On the other hand, this change might reveal a lack of competence for the role or how the role needs to evolve. It’s not pretty, but as a business leader you may have to make a tough call. Be respectful, honest and compassionate in assisting their transition to a new role or to a new company.
Capacity is a challenge that is your responsibility to manage and adjust. If your people have no time to train and adopt something new that’s going to achieve your business objectives and improve their work lives, either their job function needs to be restructured or the software needs to be simplified, or both.
“Where Does This Leave Me?”
If you remember that it’s always about them, you’ll do well. How will the software make their lives easier? How will it make them more money? How will it give them more time? Ultimately, how will it make them look good at the end of the day, or in our world, at month-end?
If the software will take away control people currently have, make their jobs less important or expose their shortcomings, you’re going to have to deal with that head-on. No sense pretending because they already know and are either going to sink in their job or sabotage the effort — neither of which your dealership can afford.
“I Don’t Trust Your Decisions.”
Everyone thinks they know better. Well, sometimes they do and other times they just need to believe you’re hearing what they have to say. Engagement with your people through all stages of the decision-making process creates two important conditions for success.
One, they know more about their day-to-day job and what’s going to make a difference than you do. Even if you’ve done that job or filled in last week to cover a sick day, the person who lives in that role encounters challenges and opportunities you don’t see. Listen to what they have to say because it can improve your ability to make the right decision. Even when it doesn’t, you can sincerely say, “we’ve taken your points into consideration and because of these reasons, we’re going to proceed with our decision.”
The second reason for involving others in the appropriate stages is that they will take part ownership of the decision. Maybe even becoming the champion for that software in your dealership.
Change is always a challenge, particularly when it involves software. Do your homework, engage your people and make them part of the process to implement software that works for your dealership.
Getting stuck in the old ways just because they used to work in the past no longer cuts it. That’s not the way we do things around here anymore.
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