During This challenging time in our industry I have noticed something strangely wonderful happening in the midst of this implosion. Of course, this is over-generalizing the issue, but when it comes to process execution in the service department, it seems to me when things are going great, people act badly. They can get away with more. But when things are going badly, people tend to rise to the occasion and perform better at their job.

This phenomenon is encouraging and has presented a unique opportunity. Several groups and stores I am involved with have used the opportunity or had the happy coincidence of launching new technology recently. Since their people now have time and a renewed sense of urgency to perform at their job thoroughly, the installations have gone much smoother and more effective than previously. From this experience I wanted to share what I collected on how to successfully incorporate technical tools into your service department process.

It’s hard enough to get adoption even under perfect conditions. Let’s look at the whole picture and ‘back into’ what we want to do. Starting with the end in mind, what needs to happen to make this a WIN?

There are 3 things I feel are important to ensure you launch well and have an ever-green process moving on.

  • Assessing what is needed to pull off the project
  • Prepare the employee landscape, the key people who will influence and execute
  • Create a sustained and thriving technical process with measurable results

Assessing what is needed to pull off the project

Create an implementation checklist working document.

Your goal is to uncover and correct potential human, process, physical or technical roadblocks before introducing the technology. This is your “Bible”, keep it ever-present, keep it safe and keep a backup copy!

technologyWrite down anything and everything on this working document to keep it all on the same page, so to speak.

Create a vendor checklist.

Get the vendor onsite if possible and go through their entire workflow in a dry run manner. Incorporate your IT staff and take copious notes with timestamps and dollar estimates. Work with the vendor to define and dry-run the system from the perspective of every person that will have a unique interaction – every cog in the wheel. Make sure you are accounting for all the miscellaneous costs you may discover to insert into your ROI equation.

A word of caution: ensure all DMS and vendor setups mirror data. For example, ensure retail pricing for fast moving items is the same. Don’t overlook this! 

VISIT A WINNER!

After this, I strongly recommend visiting a dealership that has implemented and capture their takeaways. I recommend you speak to every cog in the wheel in each department affected.

Prepare the employee landscape, the key people who will influence and execute

Ask yourself some deep questions. What are the critical preparation steps to avoid employee stumbling blocks and promote process adoption? Once you have performed the general needs assessment, then comes an employee needs assessment. Now that we know some of the needs speak to each employee and get their input as well. Do this in groups but first one-on-one with key influencers. This is a subtle but critical step.

Create a sense of ownership with each person who will have a part of the process. Take their input. Discover sticking points in reality and in personality early! If we can get the support of the key people in the shop and candidly ask for their help it will help ensure a wrench doesn’t get thrown in the spokes of progress.

Here’s a short-list of potential influencers:

  • Lead Techs
  • Dispatcher
  • Lane Manager / Lead Advisors
  • Shop Foreman
  • Assistant Managers
  • Social Butterfly Types

The earlier we can find and confront a kink in personnel, the more options we will have to at least minimize the situations and, in some cases, figure out how to capitalize on it. Do this ahead of time so you are not caught off guard. 

Create a sustained and thriving technical process with measurable results that won’t get discarded

Ask the key question, “Why are we doing this?” Create a compelling reason this needs to get done that is a message shared with all involved. What is our actual goal? People want a clear vision of what success is so we know it when we see it, and when we do not see it we can act.

Commitment from leadership is a vital component. It has to come from the top. If the top-level leadership doesn’t give commitment, the launch is likely going to flop. This can be a non-starter. To get in front of this, I recommend you include leadership in key meetings and milestones. Have candid counsel with your direct leadership if it is not you. Let the leader speak at some meetings and deliver positive news. The perception that this is important from the boss down is a tremendous boost to your cause.

Equally important as managers, modeling is critical. If they see you actually doing what you are asking they do, they pay attention. Daily coaching from leadership goes a long way to focus stainability. Get involved in peak times and lend your sweat equity to ensure you are giving the right signals to persist Any kinks that exist, especially in the beginning must be attacked by management with a sense of urgency visible to staff.

If you have one, get your onsite trainer involved early. Take care that with any new trainers or even factory representatives that come onto the scene post-launch, to ensure they align with the direction of coaching so you have an ongoing sustainment initiative.

It’s going to take at least 60 days concerted effort and daily diligence. You will backslide and have unexpected stumbling blocks. No matter the time frame, never move onto anything else until the new process is mastered.

Measurable results are like oxygen. Without measuring results, creating a culture of accountability and adjusting to get better and better results, the business will suffocate.

LEAD VS. LAG METRICS

Let’s talk about 2 types of business performance measurements: LEAD METRICS and LAG METRICS.

Lag metrics are history! Literally, they are historical. Whereas Lead metrics predict the Lag metrics. To clarify think of it this way: the amount of tire sales you sold last month is a Lag metric. (It happened in the past.) A Lead metric would be something we could measure that would predict if tire sales are more likely to occur.  A simple Lead metric in this case would be how many customers did we offer tire replacement options upon their tires measuring yellow or red? The more presentations of tires we do the more tires we will sell. Lead metrics, by nature, are sometimes harder to measure but well worth the effort. They forecast your results, so pay very close attention to and examine what are your actual lead metrics and activities.

SCOREBOARD your progress

A great scoreboard is a daily reminder in a 30-second snapshot. Avoid paralysis by analysis at all costs and measure just the simplest key drivers for your goal. Anyone should be able to look at the scoreboard and tell are they winning or not. Incentivize behavior – use gamification to drive results.

Make it fun! Change it up. Do long and short-term games. Use your Lead metrics for games so it drives results. At least weekly have a “Scoreboard Only” brief meeting so there is a cadence of accountability. Task participants to tell you as the leader what you can do to make it easier to reach their goals.

Hopefully these tips will help to broaden your vision during your next Technology Installation. Remember, the critical steps are often before the actual launch so strategize carefully.

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