Operational policies. Staffing. Pricing. Marketing decisions. Customer relations. Vendor partnerships. For group senior managers or executives, there are a million things you must manage to amplify each dealership’s success and profitability.
Sure, you could just dig in and make a difference, but where do you even start? Time is precious and you don’t have enough. You lack insight or easy communication methods across departments. You’ve tried expensive phone trainings, fancy CRMs, getting in the weeds with specific agents, and spiffs — yet nothing seemed to drive true, actionable improvement.
One senior executive seems to have concocted the secret sauce.
Meet Geno Walsh, Director of Retail Operations at Qvale Automotive Group. Walsh knows when you constantly hold people accountable to their performance, they’ll improve; it’s basic organization management. In fact, there is even a name for it; it’s called the Hawthorne Effect.
Managing 15 stores across three states and nine products is no simple feat. Walsh does three things to instill accountability and stay involved at each Qvale dealership.
- Uses tools for the insight he needs
Walsh heavily relies on technology software that pinpoints his team’s performance on phone calls. But boy, does he not just use it. He champions it across the group and relies on its data to see overall performance.
“I can see in the reporting where my issues are in each store. If I delegate that report generation to someone else, I wouldn’t be able to actually see where any of the issues are,” Walsh said. “We have the ability to make our people better with the software we have available; we have the ability to actually get the truth with the reporting through the technology we have implemented.”
Truth — AKA granular insight into agent performance on every sales call.
A firm believer in the Hawthorne Effect, Walsh preaches that activities breed results. If he doesn’t see employees’ activities in the reporting, then there are usually no results. If Qvale agents and managers aren’t proficient in using the technology, then they’ll be held accountable.
- Consistency is key
One wouldn’t typically think that an executive at a top-performing group would be so involved in the daily processes at each store. But the importance of his involvement is crucial to his stores’ successes. And the results speak for themselves.
“There are two parts to the sales side: participation and execution. So, if I’m not seeing the participation, then we just might be successful by circumstance and that just isn’t something I can be painfully consistent on. The reporting technology I have available gets me through,” Walsh said.
There’s no doubt Qvale is getting through when you look at its numbers. Since implementing this disciplined technology reporting process, one store saw a 230 percent correction above service in sales, as far as gross profit is concerned.
“It’s significant success,” Walsh said. “You have a technology imperative, just because you spend the money on the software doesn’t mean it’s gonna work by itself — you gotta work it. You gotta look at it every day; inspect what you expect.”
However, using a reporting software has not only helped drive store and group improvement; it has helped Walsh know his people on a more personal level.
“From looking at the reports, I know every single one of the finance managers and sales managers,” he boasted. “If you manage 15 different retail operations in various departments, you need to know your people. I’ll walk in and say hey to every single person at all 15 stores — and we have an average of 10-15 people per store — and know their names because I look at the reports. So, if you’re disconnected from the technology, then you’re disconnected from your people. And this is a people business.”
- Stays current
A software solution that depicts phone performance is incredibly necessary and widely used in the industry. But Walsh gets that not every group has one nor uses it in the dedicated fashion Qvale does.
So, some other hacks he uses to stay relevant and involved as a busy executive?
He attends automotive conferences and reads a lot — particularly material outside the industry. He says he’s learned a lot about customer service from the tech industry, actually.
“These tech companies focus on the customer and their experience well,” Walsh said. “There’s less traffic coming into the dealership these days, so we need to take a hard assessment on what we’re doing in this industry and focus on the customer’s experience — first and foremost.”
Senior managers and executives: you may feel overwhelmed with a never-ending to-do list but you must never lose sight of your processes, activity, and people.