Opinion: Do You Have Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

A picture of Ron Wheeler

As 2022 proceeds, dealers are wanting their marketing to become more efficient and effective than in previous years. Conditions are changing and, as a dealer, you need to maximize your ROI.

Implementing the best ideas and executing and evaluating at a high level is critical. Not all dealers have put this pressure on themselves the last few years, but we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Many of you will find taking this initiative difficult. You have too many cooks in the kitchen, all of whom believe they are marketing experts.

Having too many cooks in the kitchen will prevent you from meeting your goals. I see the situation at many stores across the country. No one invites multiple cooks into the kitchen intending to negatively affect their results. Yet it does.

This year, I watched a fantastic marketing plan, based on years of experience and success by other dealers, get torn apart by a kitchen filled with cooks. The reworked marketing plan re-emerged, looking nothing like the original.

Why did the plan change so much? Generally, ego, alternative motives and people in over their heads are a few reasons.

The good news is you have time to get your kitchen in order. First, you must know what to examine. Begin by determining who is currently on your marketing team. Then, do a brief analysis of each person.

Here are some quick ways to identify people who should spend less time in your kitchen. Keep in mind that you, the dealer, belong there. The dealership is your business and your money, so I want you to consider everyone else on the team.

The Chameleon is among the most common cooks who may not need to be in your kitchen. Because they want to agree with you, Chameleons will always ask for your opinion first before giving their own. They do not often state their own viewpoint. Often, they lack the expertise to provide true value on the subject. Chameleons add little benefit to the team. They may provide some solid work but not much marketing leadership. So, if you have a cook in the kitchen saying, “I have a favorite idea but tell me what you like first,” you have a Chameleon.

Another common cook is the Order Taker. An Order Taker frequently asks what you want to do before providing their own ideas. Order Takers have not evaluated the market nor looked at opportunities to match an execution to meet current conditions. If you feel as if all the strategic thinking is yours, you have Order Takers in the kitchen. Although they are usually tactical and complete assigned tasks, Order Takers offer little in decision-making and leadership.

Lastly are the Solo cooks. The Solo has one skill set in the marketing world and exposure perhaps to others. Solos gravitate to what they know and avoid giving appropriate value to other marketing channels. They tend to find reasons not to do what they do not understand. They seek out holes in any idea that is not yours or theirs. One Solo trait is to make a big deal out of trivial matters. Solos try to show some involvement by changing a color or font size on marketing materials at the last minute, which makes no significant difference. Rather than providing good leadership at the beginning, they like to demonstrate their value at the project’s end. In reality, Solos are creating more work.

The issue with too many Chameleons, Order Takers or Solos in the kitchen is they make circumstances difficult to create an efficient and effective marketing plan. Too many people are developing tactics, creativity and analysis. You will find your marketing efforts more effective, flexible and fast when you use only the most productive cooks.

You may not be able to clear the kitchen completely. You have relationships with staff, family and vendors. You can, however, change how the kitchen operates.

You are the leader. You provide the direction. Here are some guidelines.

Stay away from too much nitpicking. Sometimes nitpicking can add days to a launch, plus multiple hours of work, providing absolutely no value. Often, people will quibble to try to show their value.

Have one message. The advice sounds simple but is not always followed. If you have two messages, you pretty much blew it. When you create more than one message, you toss out your right to be believable. Having credibility is the single greatest marketing power you possess.

Make sure your team can answer the why, what and when. Why would consumers feel compelled to act on the message? What true value are we offering them? When are we asking consumers to act on the message—this weekend, this month?

Make sure you are targeting new prospects. Do not get caught evaluating marketing analytics comparing how your customer responds versus consumers who never have done business with
you. You cannot live on previous customers alone. You must expand your market share, which will happen only by conquest prospecting. Analyzing data the same way always will fail.

Do not review your results based on one evaluation. Several data points can help ensure you are headed in the right direction. You will need to look at leads, chats, VDP views, CTR, time on site, open rates and more. No evaluation technique is foolproof.

Give the expert room to work. Provide your team or agency room to do their specific jobs. Just make sure you have the right cooks in the right place. Some are better than others at certain tasks. Do not let them muddy up the process. In the end, you need to be the final decision-maker. If you are not, clearly decide who the head chef is.

Now is the time to clean up the kitchen. Over the past few years, your marketing plan has become a little messy and does not operate as intended. Have you given the wrong people control in the store? Remember what their strengths are and where they lack expertise.

Employees who have always worked for you most likely know much less than you do. Those who come from one aspect of marketing have a lot to learn,
so challenge them.

In the end, you must be the one saying yes or no. Giving too many people authority will hamper them from doing their best to develop effective and efficient marketing plans.

Ron Wheeler is founder and principal at Wheeler Advertising. Ron has been a speaker at RVDA for more than 30 years and at NADA for more than 18 years. He has spoken on topics ranging from dealership branding to RV effectiveness, social media and digital marketing. He began his RV advertising career more than 30 years ago. Ron was RVDA Convention and Expo chairman for six years and also sat on the RV Hall of Fame board. His company works with RV dealers in more than 30 states and into Canada.

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