With multiple automotive conferences and expos filling the schedule, October has become known to many in the industry as “conference month.” This year, as with every year, these gatherings will be filled with vendors hawking the latest shiny objects to scores of well-meaning, though mostly naïve, automotive managers.
The shiny-object sellers will claim their latest incarnation will magically drive results higher, while the well-meaning managers will hang on their every word, eager to take this latest “technological innovation” back to their dealership secure in the knowledge they’ve finally cracked the code. They’ve finally figured out the secret to leveraging technology to drive sales. They’ve discovered the lazy man’s way to grow market share.
Of course, there is no lazy man’s way to grow market share. Market share, you see, is one of the true barometers of actual performance.
Running a team that shows year-over-year sales increases is great, but if you’re not also growing market share, then you’re just rising with the tide. The market, not your efforts, is the primary driver of the strong results; and the market deserves the pat on the back. Dealers growing share – those that are truly the catalyst for their own success – aren’t succeeding because they picked the right shiny object at the last industry conference. Instead, they’re the ones who’ve mastered all the boring stuff that’s no longer taught at these gatherings.
Process, Process, Process
While many vendors want you to believe their solution is the difference maker when it comes to success or failure, the only direct correlation I’ve ever found among the stores that continually grow market share and profits – all while enjoying better CSI and lower employee turnover – is their strict adherence to process. Some of these disciplined dealers will even admit the three most important factors in their continued success are process, process and process.
Despite working with dealers on an almost daily basis and taking deep dives into their results, I’ve yet to find any correlation between success and which website provider they use or who their ad agency is or which shiny object they’re currently testing.
Dealerships without simple, repeatable sales processes that are strictly enforced fail to drive sustainable success with anything they try. Without strong processes, it’s impossible to properly test, measure or improve relative performance. This means that even if they happen to purchase a shiny object capable of delivering promising results, their team will fail to maximize these, and they’ll eventually cancel the service.
Of course, dealers with established processes baked into their organizations can try any shiny object and always get the most out of it; precisely because they have a strategy built on the basics.
When I encounter dealers correctly employing strict processes, I advise them they can and should add any new (or old) product or service they believe can deliver an acceptable return on their investment. I advise this because the dealers who’ve mastered the basics will always get the most out of any solution.
Interestingly, however, the dealers who do the best job at executing the basics aren’t the ones constantly looking for the next thing. Their managers are often so protective of their superior culture and great results that they’re rightfully skeptical during the average vendor pitch, and understandably cautious about adding anything that doesn’t fit with the dealership’s winning strategy.
Conversely, managers not enforcing a store’s sales processes are often the most vocal about which shiny object is a “must” for the dealership to employ. These managers are constantly bringing the dealer principal the latest and greatest, and begging him or her to throw money at it.
Boring Blocking and Tedious Tackling
Dealers looking for the secret sauce that separates those genuinely growing market share from the rest of the herd don’t need to spend a lot of time at the next industry expo. The lessons their team needs are no longer taught there. There’s no sizzle in lecturing about processes; there’s no pizazz when it comes to accountability. These topics are simply too boring to draw an audience.
The most significant driver of sustained market share growth is and always has been the basics. Yes, execution of some of the basics – like which phone talk tracks drive more appointments –has evolved over the years, but the basics themselves have remained steadfast.
Writing a sales process, adding some rules to it, creating some consequences, measuring the results, making necessary improvements, and then holding yourself and your team accountable to these is everything you need to grow market share in any market condition.
It’s boring blocking and tedious tackling – certainly not as fun as playing with the shiny objects your managers bought at the last conference – and it’s what your team needs to drive real market share growth. The kind of growth you won’t find for sale during conference month.