Processes are the core tools for business. In order to become and remain successful and competitive, Dealership Service Departments must continuously improve their processes. Failure to do so is likely to result in higher costs, lower revenues, less motivated employees and fewer satisfied customers.
Business Process Management is a powerful tool Managers can use to keep all aspects of operations running optimally. For those considering investing in it to drive process improvement, here’s a brief overview of the “Process Process”… In other word what makes a successful process? What should we consider? What’s the process to create a strong process?
I have seen a lot of attempts to make a new process part of the dealership culture and would love to share my short list with you now. We all know that the key to any process is execution so let’s explore the best way to get a process going and keep it going.
Process Planning – The 10 step planning plan
First things first lets actually start with the END IN MIND! That’s right, what is our goal in implementing this process? To determine this ask the following
- As stated above what is the desired outcome of this process?
- We have to start with the product in mind to ensure we create a path to get there.
- Why are we implementing the new system?
- Is there a compelling need for change or is this just change for change’s sake?
- Who’s going to benefit?
- Pencil out what the advantages are and bullet point how we get there.
- Who do we include to create the process?
- By including key players we can both create a workable job flow AND incite OWNERSHIP in the process those responsible for executing it will be proud to defend
- What departments are affected? Who do we present it to?
- Think this through carefully and get folks included in planning early
- How do we present it to staff?
- What is the right setting, time of day and way to share the finished process draft?
- How do we roll it out?
- A perfectly workable process can be dashed if we are not considering the best method for launching. Ensure you have ample resources and commitment from key plyers.
- How do we plan on measuring it? What benchmarks are we trying to achieve?
- We have to know if we are winning or losing to tell if we are making headway.
- What additional costs or equipment is needed before we can launch
- Do we have the right resources both in man and machine to pull this off?
- What single person will be responsible for the success of the process?
- Also, what accountabilities will each person in the process have to keep up their part?
Process Implementation & Sustainment
Make sure all necessary personnel are available during implementation. Take steps and demonstrate to make sure everyone how’s to do it and why. Handout materials to ensure there is no confusion and everyone knows how it works and what expectations are. The reason is to be able to provide customers with a consistent process each visit. By doing this we will build trust and credibility and make customers more comfortable with spending money on services we recommend that they legitimately need. Here are the must-do’s for implementation and sustainment;
- Service Manager launch meeting
- It’s a good idea to have a formal meeting to get everyone on the same page so to speak. This also lends an air for importance and sense of urgency to accomplish.
- New Process Incentives for participants
- Whenever you can link process execution outcomes to incentives and rewards, I recommend that you do!
- Create a contest for the first 60 days of the program to reward excellence.
- Execution of Process (Discipline is a requirement)
- A process takes a minimum of 60 days to really take root. Longer with more different job descriptions involved.
Whoever is ultimately accountable for the success of the process needs to oversee it to be 100% sure every step is being adhered to with fanatical discipline! People hate change and although they may not being intentionally defiant, will test their leaders’ commitment to the process!
This next point is often overlooked or not taken seriously, but I caution you to take heed! Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT kick off another process until the previously implemented process is “now how we do things”. Launching new initiatives on the back of a shaky foundation will cause both efforts to collapse and make it much for difficult to get any new endeavors going.
The leader is accountable and must take full responsibility for the success and failure of the new process. As a leader, keep in mind that coaching what you expect is the key to getting good traction. Lead by example, interject yourself mid-process, “game-ify” and create incentives and contests to keep the attention at a high focus. Of course, escalate to disciplinary action when needed so others in the department don’t get the idea it’s OK to ignore the established process. I hope this helps, by keeping these points in mind, I know you will get the results ultimately that you deserve!