One size does not fit all
When customers walk into an RV dealership seeking accessories or upgrades, letting them grab the first item that looks like a good fit is a poor idea. Dealerships employ parts specialists to assist these customers for a good reason: to ask the right questions and help guide them to the right solutions. This is also the reason dealers have service personnel to assist with installation. They guide the customer with product knowledge and help match the right product to the right consumer.
Shopping without help works well some of the time, but usually customers require experienced professionals to assist them. Just because a part looks like a good fit does not mean it will work in a particular customer’s vehicle. Even if the consumer does manage to select the right part, he or she might not install it properly or know how to maintain it. One size really does not fit all.
This is true of parts and also of customers.
Every Customer Has a Different Need
Vee and Darius both recently retired from the U.S. Navy after more than 20 years of service, each. Now in their 40s, they look forward to relaxing weekend trips in their RV. Though the couple plans to spend a majority of their time at the local RV park, they have been dreaming of a bigger trip when the kids are on summer break. Vee and Darius have owned an RV for a while but have not gone camping as much as they would like. With more available time now, they have been comparison shopping online to see where they can find the best deals.
Tobin and Kris are millennial newlyweds who both work remotely in the tech industry. The nature of their jobs demands they stay connected but allows them to work from anywhere, something they decided to take advantage of when they hit the road to go RVing. During the couple’s downtime, though, they love to get away and dry camp in the middle of nowhere. While Tobin and Kris favor shopping for aftermarket accessories online, they also find themselves drawn to brick-and-mortar locations so they can see the products and get personalized service.
Angel and Jason have their newest RV parked outside their home. They started the lifestyle a few years ago with a small, used pop-up a friend was selling. They quickly fell in love with camping. Within a few months, the couple traded in the older model for a larger unit, and two years later, they traded up again. In their late 30s, married with two children, they regularly make reservations through the state park website to escape from everyday life. Angel and Jason have made several new friends in the process and now coordinate plans to make sure campsites are next to each other so the kids can play together. They prefer going into the dealership to look around and ask questions about topics such as the benefits and drawbacks of helium technology.
The RV industry has experienced record sales numbers over the past few years. Those sales numbers are a driving force requiring more and better levels of customer service. Without the right people in the right positions along the way, customers like Vee and Darius may be lost when navigating the expanding aftermarket. Tobin and Kris will not be able to troubleshoot issues arising during their travels. And Angel and Jason will not be able to determine the products that best fit their needs when they move up to the next vehicle class. Each of these customers requires different kinds of help, which means dealers need different kinds of people on staff to help their consumers.
Putting the Right People in the Right Positions
A lot has been written about the need to understand the industry’s emerging customer base and anticipating consumers’ needs. What is often missed, though, is a crucial part in the bigger picture: understanding staff members’ talents and giving them what they need to succeed.
Sometimes companies get lucky. But other times dealers end up using a one-size-fits-all approach toward staffing. Though this approach might seem to work, you have no way of gauging if this method is really effective or how much better things could be.
A dealer would not knowingly give a customer the wrong RV part. The staff would determine everything they could about the consumer and how he or she uses the vehicle.
So, why would a dealership have the wrong specialist assisting a customer?
Using a behavioral assessment as part of the hiring and retention process will bridge the knowledge gap and help managers determine the best fit for each position. With the help of trained professionals, companies can learn what prospective employees are naturally good at and what skills may be lacking.
For example, a gregarious, big-picture salesperson would not work well in inventory control (an extra zero on a parts order can create pandemonium). Similarly, putting a cautious, reserved parts clerk in a sales role would be a poor choice (there is nothing like natural closing reluctance to kill the chances of making quota). Managers must learn what each team member’s challenge areas are, such as needing a more structured environment or being a multitasker in a setting requiring a more deliberate pace.
A busy manager can use a behavioral assessment as a cheat sheet to help guide each team member to be a top performer and elevate his or her ability to provide exceptional customer service. Armed with this information, managers will better understand how to coach and communicate with employees as individuals, rather than experimenting with one method on the whole team. This kind of one-size-fits-all approach ends up using more time and energy than necessary. By tapping into each person’s intrinsic motivators, managers eliminate wasted effort and drill right down to the actions needed to get results.
For example, ideal sales professionals are ambitious, driven and resilient for creating opportunities and leading prospects to a purchasing decision. They are bold, competitive and independent, so how they are managed can be the difference between exceeding sales expectations or leaving to work for a competitor. Salespeople need to be challenged and set themselves apart from the crowd through individual achievement. As natural risk takers, they want control to earn based on performance, to be masters of their own destiny. This is precisely why a commission pay structure is such a powerful sales motivator. Conversely, sales goals and commissions are motivation killers for cautious personality types often found in positions like service technician, parts counter clerk and other support roles.
Real Innovations Involve People
Knowing staff members’ strengths and weaknesses will help a dealership better serve its customers. The right team member can assist Vee and Darius with the latest in lithium batteries to keep them on the road for longer trips. Managers can pair the tech enthusiast on staff with Tobin and Kris when they want to replace their generator with solar panels for boondocking. And, working with the right staff member will ensure Angel and Jason get the help they need in discovering the cool new accessories to outfit their new RV for the next camping trip.
Every year brings another wave of technology. Some technologies can make managing a dealership easier and improve business. But the real innovations all involve people. They are the customers dealerships hope to acquire, as well as the staff available to assist them and grow within their roles in the business. People are the solution. It is not one size fits all; different people need different things. Managers who have the right tools to solve problems make all the difference.
Carletta Clyatt, Sr. VP, The Omnia Group Inc., The Omnia Group website
Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the senior vice president at The Omnia Group. She offers clients advice on how to manage effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. She can provide more information about employee behavioral assessments.
Phone: 813-280-3026, Email: Carletta