As director of training, I am always paying attention to the needs of dealers to see if a simple suggestion or note would solve the problem, or if it’s a larger issue, a training program to change the current practice. As it is with most things that involve change, I’m usually met with resistance. “If it’s so important, why are you the first to tell us?”
Sometimes, it’s because a new practice has emerged, but most of the time, I’ve discovered that I wasn’t the first to bring it up, but I’m often the first who got heard. Regardless, my whole career has been about facilitating change that is either for improvement or for compliance changes. Both are difficult because dealers would have to admit to themselves that their performance is a bit lacking, or they aren’t following the rules as well as they should be.
Sadly, the vast majority of the time, rules violations or performance issues are not due to deceptive practices. Often, the issue is a well-meaning yet uninformed employee who is doing what they had been taught or have become used to over the years. After all, they are usually long-term and I’m in town for a week at most. So, how can someone like me get through?
I have relied on an ending quote for every reason and/or excuse a dealer has for not changing. It’s actually simple. I tell the dealer, manager or employee causing the issue to repeat their claim of not needing to change, place a comma at the end and add, “Your Honor.” In other words, see how it might feel making the statement in a court of law. If you feel any discomfort, I’m likely to be right and a change is necessary.
For example, a dealer is not disclosing products “packed” into a payment until after the sale and the customer is in F&I. I point out that non-disclosure is a definite compliance no-no. Their defense: “This is how we’ve always done it.” I then ask them to repeat it as instructed. “This is how we’ve always done it, Your Honor.” Once they hear it, they either get where I’m going and let me help, or they go deeper into denial and let me go home.
I try to stay neutral in areas concerning the right products to have in F&I, the right sales techniques to use with customers or the best ways to manage a team, unless asked. But I firmly believe and advocate strongly that the software used in completing the sales and F&I process should be independent of product. Most importantly, if the dealer puts the right process and support behind the software, any product would be a perfect fit.
Unfortunately, too many dealers make software decisions based on price (it’s free from my vendor), what another dealer says (yet their operation is totally different) or the prettiest booth at the convention. I have found that dealers who can meet with software providers and can tell the company what their desired outcome is, they can then see if that particular company can design the software to accomplish exactly that.
When it comes to following rules, being compliant and running a smooth operation, dealers need to be dealers. That means, focus on what you do best and reach out for help concerning the right tools. There are several product companies, agencies and software providers that can go a long way to helping with compliance and increased profitability, but not all of them are the right fit for any dealer. But, in nearly every case, there is one of each that’s just perfect for you.
I hope this helps, your honor.
For a free software needs analysis, email me at the address above and write “Software” in the subject line.
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