Advice: What Is Stopping Your Best Busy Season?

A picture of Valerie Ziebron

Did you make any progress with your New Year’s resolutions? It is healthy for your business and personal development to start the year aspiring to achieve accomplishments: eat better, work out more, get better organized, implement the new dealer management software….

These goals help point you in the direction you want to go. Hopefully, you are sticking with some of them, but as we get a few months into the year, identifying which barriers keep you from your best performance can be equally important.

What do you need to stop doing? This is especially important as we prepare for our busy season. Are there distractions redirecting your focus, sucking up your energy, time or resources? We are entering our busy season, and we all have areas within our personal and professional control that will make a tangible difference in success.

As many medical and business professional have found, saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that are most important. How good are you at saying no to others and yourself? This is a learned skill that requires practice. There are two key elements:

  1. You must identify choices taking you in a direction you do not need to go. Saying yes, or just handling a situation, may seem easier or more polite, but recognize doing so keeps you from important goals and objectives.
  2. You must have the guts and determination to defend your no and stand behind your decision.

Saying no to someone, especially a customer or a beloved team member, can be hard, and even harder when you must say no to yourself. What you like to do is not always the most important priority.

Do you need to exercise better control of the time you invest in following political news, business reports or social media? You cannot control what is happening in the world; consuming too much information may put you in a funk as well. You need to know what is going on, but you likely can stay well informed in less time. Determine that right time amount and stick with it. Chances are you will be a lot happier.


Pitfalls to Avoid

Having spent countless hours observing dealerships, I have seen certain pitfalls you should avoid. Let us look at some of them by job description.

  • Dealer Principals: Stop getting sucked into every customer and departmental issue. You are limiting your team’s ability to exercise the empowerment and responsibility you have given them. Dealers who give in to type-A tendencies limit their dealerships’ growth potential. Practice letting go. Give your team the tools, the training and opportunity, then step back. Occasionally, you might need to coach them, based on how issues were handled. Encouraging them to get outside their comfort zones enables them to grow. Do not swoop in to save the day. Let them learn to be the hero.

On a recent dealer visit, I was impressed with a young dealer who was able to track his team’s progress based on the tools and processes he had put in place. He checked the customer relationship management and texting platform hubs to ensure leads and inquiries were responded to quickly. He looked at the open sales and open RO lists, all from his phone or computer and without hovering over anyone. In his morning meetings, he intentionally praised team members who excelled. The growth his dealership is experiencing is awe-inspiring. The best part is he is raising young leaders and teaching them to effectively use those same tools. He can go home to his family at a reasonable hour and not be a slave to multiple dealerships.

  • Sales Professionals: Stop judging your customers. Treat everyone as if they can buy the most expensive coach available. Practically every seasoned sales pro has a story involving a customer the sales staff thought did not have a nickel to their name who then made a six-figure purchase. Be aware of your internal mind chatter limiting your prospecting and sales.

One piece of wisdom for sales is to stop setting up customers for disappointment. Be sure to check with parts and the sales manager before setting pricing, availability or delivery times. The best way to build customer loyalty is to work together as a team so the customer has a great experience in every department. The more consumers see your team like and respect each other, the more they trust the entire dealership.

  • Service and Parts Managers: Stop keeping data from the team and stop mandating all decision-making go through you. The more one person controls information on scheduling, dispatch, pricing, availability and such, the more that person is bombarded with questions all day. The team becomes less efficient, and staff and customers become more frustrated. Make information, especially workflow details, easily available to everyone on the team. This helps porters, techs, advisors and sales deliver a better customer experience while increasing shop profitability.
  • Technicians, Detail and Lot Crew: Stop bottling up until you are ready to boil over. If you see something hurting your job or the dealership’s product quality or work, tell the people who can do something about it. If you are uncomfortable talking to them, send an anonymous note “from a caring eye in the shop.” Failing to say anything will grate on you, making you increasingly frustrated. Though you can vent to your peers about the issue to feel better, they cannot fix it. Venting just leads to shop drama, making everyone miserable.

These points lead to two last suggestions for everyone at the dealership:

  • Stop avoiding the tough decisions that need to be made. You know what they are. The choices you have been putting off—the ones that make you want to change the subject when they come up. There is a great saying “knock out the hard stuff first.” If you get the tough one done and have it handled once and for all, it will be so freeing for you. You will feel so much better and have so much more energy to focus on other worthy goals that need your energy.
  • Stop adding fuel or oxygen to dealership drama. Choose the high road. Act toward others the way you want them to act toward you. If you must say something, say it to the person directly and with empathy.

What are the things you need to stop? What is keeping you from bringing your best self to your highest priority goals?

You will have plenty of challenges outside your control as you navigate your busy season. Do not let yourself spend more time than necessary on what you cannot change or that are not a priority. Hone your focus and pour available resources into things you can control that will move the needle in the direction you want.

Practice and develop your discipline in this, and you will put yourself, and your dealership, in the best position to make the most of this year.

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