Little Changes Make a Big Difference

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An excerpt from “You’re the Problem (and the Solution)” by Bob Clements and Sara Hey

Have you ever had a small rock in your shoe? I enjoy running and have spent much of my adult life running as a form of exercise and stress relief. It’s a lot easier to run out your aggression than to punch someone in the face and go to jail, but again, I digress. I get that, to many people, this makes me weird, but I’m okay with it.

There have been times I have put on my running shoes and immediately noticed a small rock inside. Did I put the rock there on purpose? No. But that doesn’t change the fact that the rock is still there. Regardless of how the rock found its way into my shoe, all I could think about at that moment, is that silly little rock. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like or how hard my run is, this one tiny, annoying, little rock, that I did not put in my shoe, takes all of my attention.

So, what’s the solution? I have to stop what I’m doing, take off my shoe, and remove the rock. Does it take time to stop, take off my shoe, and get the rock out? Yes. Is it an inconvenience? Yes.

However, within a moment, something interesting happens. The time, pain, and inconvenience caused by the rock are quickly a distant memory, and I’m experiencing utter relief and able to move forward with my run.

Successful dealers understand that often the changes they need to make don’t require a complete overhaul of their dealership or even a department. Most of the time the changes that need to be made are little things that have a big impact. You don’t always understand how significant the impact is or how much something was weighing on you until you remove the issue. The moment you make the change, things start to become easier, and the issue, like the rock in your shoe, becomes a distant memory.

A small change in your service department that will alleviate pain may include having your technicians clocking in and out of work orders. Sure, it could be an inconvenience to implement this but, after you do, the ability to understand where time is going and what you can do to change the profitability of the department will change the department as a whole.

A small change in your parts department might be the decision to burn down inventory about three months before your slow season, giving you the cash you need to survive a slower time of the year. It’s not often that your employees will take parts, as payment, in place of a paycheck when business slows down, and the extra cash can make a big difference to you. Yes, you and your employees will have to learn a new skill, and it will take time; however, the small amount of pain and inconvenience you experience will be paid back with increased cash flow during a historically slow time.

In whole goods, this small change could be having your salespeople track their follow-up on quotes or bids and the results they were having. As we work with dealerships, we require salespeople to make a minimum of five follow-ups on any quote or bid they have given. Why? Because studies have said that most salespeople make only one follow-up call yet on average it takes five for the average quote or bid to be accepted. Yes, it’s a change from how you have done things in the past, but the effects of the change will create more consistent cash flow into your dealership throughout the year.

No one puts a rock in their shoe on purpose. My guess is that you and your team are already doing a lot of things right or you wouldn’t still be in business. What will separate you from where you are and where you want to be is identifying where the rock slipped in and what you can do to get the rock out. Before you know it, the rock will be a distant memory for you and your team.