You may have heard the words “best practices” thrown around at meetings, on memos and during conversations at sales conventions. The term refers to sets of guiding principles or strategies that help your teamwork as efficiently and judiciously as possible. They can also serve as benchmarks, letting you see how your rank against other similar businesses, like other auto franchises.
When developing best practices for your dealership, it helps to know where to focus your attention. You want to set your sights on establishing best practices in areas that need the most guidance. There are three domains in any dealership: the team, the customers and the sales themselves. Looking over any data you’ve gathered, be it through traditional or technological means, select the weakest domain to start with. Once that area is stronger, move on to the next until you’ve generated best practices in all three.
Still unsure where to begin? Below is an outline of the three domains with some helpful starter suggestions on how to improve them through best practices.
#1. Team-Centric Best Practices
Your sales team is the lifeblood of your dealership. You need them to work like a well-oiled machine. Review their operation to see how well they interact. Are they cohesive? Is there a clear structure? How stream-lined are their methods of communication? What about their morale?
Often the team is where dealerships start when establishing best practices. Improving your sales team will have a natural effect on the other two domains: customers and sales. Once you’ve determined where breakdowns occur within your team, put in place guidelines that prevent them. For example, if there is no hierarchy, create one so that each employee knows who they answer to, and what their role within the dealership is. If the problem is communication, consider instituting a daily meeting before opening shop where each team member relates their goal or challenge for the coming day. Initiating strategies like these should help make your team into a stronger unit, better equipped to take on customers.
#2. Customer-Centric Best Practices
The customer is king. That said, there are plenty of customers who don’t exactly match that description. It’s easy to lose focus in the face of demanding buyers and fall into the trap of seeing customers as merely a means to an end. If customers report they are leaving dissatisfied, it’s time to examine why and to put in place some customer-centric best practices.
For instance, if customers say they feel they’re being bullied or ignored at your dealership, consider a customer-centric best practice like instituting a “listen-repeat-think-respond” strategy. In this strategy, a sales member listens to the customer, repeats back to the customer what they understood, visibly considers the information and only after responds. People like being listened to, and they like knowing their words have been given weight. Even if your team knows much more than them about cars, creating a culture of listening to a customer and clearly thinking about what they say before giving any advice or showing any models will go far in nurturing a client-team member bond.
#3. Sales-Centric Best Practices
Finally, look at your sales figures. Are there weak links in advertising? What about closing? Do people ghost your team after they’ve left your lot? Examine the areas of marketing and sales that seem to be failing and see if you can place some best practices there.
One example for putting a best practice in place for the above follow-up problem is to look at how you collect follow-up data. Are you only pulling phone numbers? What about emails? Brainstorm ways you can establish a follow-up while in person. By coming up with set procedures, you’ll find your team working better, your customers happier and your dealership winning big.