What Were You Looking for at NADA 2023 … Tools, Technology or Training?

What Were You Looking for at NADA 2023 … Tools, Technology or Training?

New tools and technology in the hands of the untrained will lead to disaster. This will eventually catch up to us.

It’s never an easy choice. 

While I was standing in our booth at the NADA Show and watching all the people walking by who were looking at software, toolboxes and carwashes, I just started thinking, “If I were the dealer principal or fixed operations director, and I only had one choice, what would I do?”

For many, it comes down to the most immediate need.

Take tools for example. We all know tools are important — especially when you don’t have the one you are looking for (maybe this has only happened to me). 

Remember that time, you went to your tool-room and looked for that one tool … the only special tool the tech needed to finish the job … and guess what? … it wasn’t there. At that moment, tools become your most immediate need. And you will do almost anything for an immediate solution. 

That’s the problem in our business. We tend to only focus on the most immediate need and forget about what comes next.

We’ve become the best firefighters in the world, running from one fire to next, armed with a squirt gun and never stopping to think how we would be better leaders if we became fire preventers!

Let me give you an example.

There have been times I’ve been in a dealership training with the manager, and I say something to the effect of “This is really important, and it needs to get done every day,” and the manager replies, “I don’t have time for that. I’ve got too many things to do as it is.”

“I have to (fill in the blank) this today, and then do (blank) and then I have to (blank) after that,” and that sums up their whole day, every day, until they are only focused on filling in the blanks. 

This leads to a lot of missed opportunities. 

Things like coaching an advisor on the menu sales that he or she has been missing for three days in a row or talking to that outstanding technician and congratulating them on their production or even just managing by walking around a few times a day (the best activity any leader can do daily).

This, of course, brings me to the point of my observation. We like tools and technology. 

When new, they are shiny and clean, sometimes interesting, sometimes complicated but mostly useful. But new tools and technology in the hands of the untrained leads to disaster. 

And right now, we have a lot of people in our industry relying on the two T’s: Tools and Technology, to overcome shortcomings in the one T: “Training.” 

This will eventually catch up to us. This is still a person-to-person business, customers and employees alike. No one gets ahead by themselves, and no one gets ahead without training. 

There is not one professional organization on planet Earth that does not train continuously. 

Can you imagine if real firefighters stopped training? 

Say you have a fire at your house and you call the fire department. 

The last thing you want to see is the firefighter pulling out a book on how to fight fires when they are standing in front of your burning home! That would be the wrong time to start learning how to fight fires, wouldn’t you agree? 

That’s why firefighters spend a lot of time learning things like how to recognize an electrical fire versus a chemical fire, when to enter a burning building and when not to, etc. It’s how they become professional firefighters and not just people running around with a squirt gun.

Let me ask you this: If tools and technology made an improvement in your dealership’s team without training, imagine what it could be if your team had tools, technology and training? 

I’ve heard that if you give a monkey a computer and wait a couple of million years you would get a written novel like “War and Peace” or something. I don’t want to wait that long. I’d rather have the results a lot sooner than that. 

And the only way to get those results is to provide the right tools and the right technology to fully trained people ready to use it. 

Anything else is just more squirt guns and filling in the blanks.

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