Let’s face it, when you are in the car business and are told you need to attend a meeting, most of us get a feeling of dread. That’s because most meetings are long and boring and fail to hold our interest. Frankly, the fundamentals on how to hold a meeting is a skill that is rarely taught, but don’t worry, I have held hundreds, if not thousands, of successful meetings and I’m going to share with you some of the best practices that I have been utilizing for over a decade.
Be Consistent: A best practice is to hold your meetings, whether it be daily, weekly or monthly, at the same day and time consistently; for example, every Monday at 3 p.m. That way your attendees can plan their day and schedule other tasks or appointments around that — and there’s no excuse for not knowing when it is.
Keep it Short and Simple: While meeting durations may vary based on the amount of information to be discussed, as a general rule of thumb you should never go over one hour. Most people in the car business have a lot of tasks on their daily agenda, which you don’t want to keep them from, and most people lose interest and/or the ability to retain what was discussed if the meeting goes longer than an hour.
Be Prepared: Have a written agenda of what will be discussed. It doesn’t have to be too detailed, but you should have a list of talking points prepared in advance so you can stay on track and feel confident during the meeting. Bonus tip: Carry a small notebook with you at all times and when you notice something that’s “meeting-worthy,” then jot it down in your checklist so you won’t forget about it.
Strong Start: Most employees are wary of what the meeting will be about so I like to break the ice and get everyone in a good mood by either telling a joke or a riddle. Bonus tip: If you run out of jokes/riddles then you can mandate that a different employee has to come up with one each meeting.
Good Content: I recommend having your meetings be half informational and half dedicated to training. The information can include any new marketing initiatives the company invested in or any OEM incentives recently announced. Any new vendors or updates to the software programs used can also be discussed. Another good idea is to inspect what you expect, such as spot-checking CRM systems or listening to recorded phone calls. This is also a good opportunity to review goal planning and performance objectives. As for training, there is never a lack of subjects there. You can practice or role play scripts and word tracks such as how to make a proper follow-up calls or how to overcome common objections. You can review processes and proper ways to conduct daily tasks, including using company software correctly. You can also find articles or video training on the various automotive blogs, magazines and on YouTube.
Be Interactive: You can’t just “preach” for an hour. Your employees will inevitably lose interest and tune you out. You need to keep the meetings interactive by asking questions and getting everyone involved. Don’t just talk about “what we do” but also ask “why do we do it?” so they have to put some thought into it. It will not only help them remember but also justify the reasons you have such processes in place and help ensure they adhere to them. Bonus tip: Try mixing it up with a fun trivia-type game. One example is a website called Kahoot, which allows you to create multiple-choice questions that you can display on a TV screen and your staff can answer from the app on their phone.
Finish Strong: Even if some of the subjects discussed during the meeting were a little negative, you always want to end on a positive note. I like to end all my meetings with a motivational quote. I ask some of the attendees what the quote means to them, and then I tie it in to how it applies to our business.
One last tip, I recommend having a phone policy where you require all attendees to either mute their phones, or even in some cases to have them all place them in an area nearby but out of eyesight so they stay focused. These best practices should help you instantly elevate your game and help keep your employees interested — and dare I say — excited, for your next meeting.