Poorly run meetings are a huge time waster in any dealership. Nobody likes to sit through a 3 hour meeting only to wonder what really got accomplished when it is all over. Some may argue that meetings are unnecessary altogether, and blame the meeting itself for wasting everybody’s time. The reality is that meetings themselves are not the problem.

Meetings can actually be quite productive and provide a great forum for discussing ideas and implementing new plans-of-action.  The secret to productive meetings lies in planning, organization and effective time management. Here are 5 rules to live by for productive meetings in your dealership.

  • Define the Purpose. Why are you holding this meeting in the first place? What do you hope to accomplish? If the objective can be handled through a group email, then there is no need to waste everybody’s time holding a meeting.

If it is determined a meeting is necessary, then start with a simple agenda. Your meeting time is precious, so share the agenda beforehand with all attendees and communicate to each attendee which agenda items they are expected to comment on during the meeting. If everyone enters the room with a clear objective, the meeting will go much faster with better results.

  • Define the Attendees. Regularly scheduled meetings may be necessary, but a standard list of attendees doesn’t have to be. The reason most employees hate meetings is because they have sat through too many where their presence was not essential. This gets very boring and wastes a lot of time.

When you are planning out your agenda, plan who you would to have like in attendance. If there are personnel who don’t need to be there, then don’t invite them. If you risk offending someone by not inviting them, then make it a matter of policy and notify all employees in advance of this policy change and your efforts to make meetings more productive.

  • Stick to the Time Slot. We live in a busy world. Each of your managers and employees have busy schedules filled with other meetings and work obligations to attend to. If a 1 hour meeting goes 1.5 hours, you risk a large trickle-down effect. If you schedule a 1 hour meeting, the meeting had better be 1 hour or less in order to keep everything else in your dealership running smoothly.

Place the most pressing discussion items at the top of the agenda and tackle them first. If your time runs out, then the less important items at the bottom of the agenda can be tabled for later, or handled through email.

  • Ban Laptops. The purpose of having a meeting is to have a discussion. If everyone brings their laptop, then there is less discussion and more work going on in the background, at which point meeting attendees would be better off sitting at their desks, where they can work without distraction. By ditching the laptops, you are demanding that attendees be fully present and participate.

Along with banning laptops, PowerPoint presentations should be banned as well. Nothing is more boring (and time-sucking) than listening to someone read PowerPoint slides verbatim. Send the slides out prior to the meeting in an email and use the meeting time for constructive discussion.

  • Have Fun. All work and no play will make for a dull workplace. With all of the talk of efficiency, there should still be some time for fun. Where appropriate, devote some time at the beginning of a meeting for a short team-building exercise, or a short (but entertaining) video clip or other activity. Laughter and comradery is good for synergy and cooperation.

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