Leading an Appointment Culture – Part 1

Leading an Appointment Culture – Part 1

TRANSCRIPT: Today’s lesson: Leading an Appointment Culture. This is a follow-up to our earlier session called “Creating an Appointment Culture”. So, if you’re an owner or a general manager and you watched Creating an Appointment Culture, and you’ve tried to implement an appointment culture in your dealership or small business, you know that the foundation has been laid but you also understand that there is a problem: How can we make sure that our managers build upon it? How can you make sure that your managers dust off the training materials and that they actually incorporate the things they learned in “Creating an Appointment Culture” into the way that they do business for your dealership or small business? How can you reinforce an appointment culture?

See, this is a cultural change, especially for car dealers. We’ve lived off ‘Ups’ for years and now we need to live off of appointments. That requires a complete change in culture; in the way that we do business. So, how can we reinforce that? How can you insure that all your managers are on board? Some of your managers will say they are on board and they’re not and we’ll get to that in just a second. See, how can you drive a belief in activity and accountability? We’ve lived off results forever. We’ve lived off not holding people accountable forever, especially in the car business. So, how can you drive this belief that activities matter more than results? Remember, in “Creating an Appointment Culture”, if you drive the activity, the results will come. And it’s all about accountability. How can you drive that belief?

And, finally, how can you make sure that your managers are going to execute even when you’re not there? That’s the critical part. Now, your team is going to determine their own future. We talked about that, right? If you’re a car dealer, you can close your traditional UP’s at 20%, but if you follow the “perfect appointment” that we taught you using the “Creating an Appointment Culture” you know that you can close your VIP appointments at 80%, month in, month out. But, it’s up to you. Every step that you allow your team to cheat, short cut or short change, makes your VIP feel more like a traditional UP.

It’s all up to you and it’s all up to your team but, more importantly, it’s up to your managers. We taught you in “Creating an Appointment Culture” that managers matter. Middle managers are the key. Unfortunately, most middle managers don’t like work. Most middle managers don’t like change. And here’s the biggest problem, a lot of your middle managers are passive-aggressive. They are going to tell you, to your face, “Hey, Boss, I’m on board”, but, in their head they’re saying, “You know, in your heart, boss, I’m going to try to sabotage this”. See, there are lots of pitfalls and roadblocks in trying to change the culture within any business, but, especially, a car dealership. Now, for creating an employment culture, middle managers are critical. They are the key.

Now, we’ve talked about the passive-aggressive middle manager. That’s the one you need to watch out for the most, but there are other pitfalls and roadblocks that can derail your appointment culture before it even gets started.

One is the ‘Mom versus Dad’ scenario. If you are married, with kids, you know what I’m talking about: Dad says you can’t do something so the kids run to Mom and ask her and she says “yes”. Sometimes, it’s the other way; Mom says “no”; Dad says “yes”. You can’t allow this to happen in your business. Everybody needs to sing from the same hymnal. If you have rules and you want to put those rules into place, then everyone needs to enforce them. You can’t have one soft-hearted manager thinking he’s doing the right thing when we all know ‘tough love’ is what your team needs.

Another problem that you need to watch out for is something called ‘falsification, shortcuts and freelancing’. See, if you have a CRM tool and you try to manage strictly from the CRM tool and you don’t manage the activities in reality; if you don’t manage them in real life, then your team can create fake activities in the CRM. They can click to make fake appointments, they can click to say they’ve made phone calls they didn’t make. See, they can take shortcuts around the processes that you’ve created, but, more importantly, they may try to freelance. They may say, “You know, this is a good talk-track but I think I can change it, make it better, make it sound more personal”. See, the problem is, if you’re going to have a true culture change within your dealership, if you’re going to truly try to lead an appointment culture, people have to do the process your way. Now, once they are successful with your process, and they want to suggest changes to that process, then, great, but, we’re going to change the process for everyone. We cannot allow freelancing as that will destroy the whole process.

Another pitfall or roadblock you need to watch out for are your prima donnas. These are sometimes your top salesperson but not always. Most of the time they are your B+ salespeople. These folks think they have all the answers and, so, what they will try to do is derail your appointment culture. They’ll try to poison it by filling the heads of other salespeople with negative talks. You cannot allow this to happen. Now, it never worked for, or worked with, any business that didn’t lose their top salesperson and wasn’t better off for it after that person left. A lot of the time you find out that person was a prima donna. Or, and this happens in car dealerships all the time, after the prima donna leaves, the sales team will go to the sales desk, to the manager, and say, “God, we’re so glad that asshole’s gone”, and the team sells more. It happens all the time.

And, finally, the last pitfall or roadblock I want you watch out for is something we call the ‘powerless champion’. See, if you’re the owner of the business, you can try to drive the appointment culture and this is certainly a top-down proposition here. You have got to drive this from the top down, however, you also need a champion in the dealership. Someone who’s going to be there all the time; someone in your business so you can say, “okay, here’s the person that’s going to drive it when I’m not there”. You have to make sure this person has plenty of power. So, you can’t name a clerk, or your internet manager your champion of your appointment culture because if they don’t have the power to hire or fire people, if they don’t have the power to reinforce processes, if they don’t have the power to hold people accountable, they aren’t going to do you any good. And, it’s not any good for your business to name a powerless champion. It happens all the time in automotive. If you’ve done that you need to go back and make the change again.

Now, remember this, any time that someone veers off course, even just a little, in your efforts to drive an appointment culture, you need to make course corrections early and often. See, you can’t just let these things wait. Remember, a rotting fish doesn’t smell any better tomorrow. Let’s solve the problem today.

The final thing on pitfalls and roadblocks is that most of these roadblocks are just band aids. Your team thinks they are pacemakers. They think if they rip out this roadblock, they’re going to kill the patient. Right? Like ripping a pacemaker out of some guy’s chest. That’s not the case. These are just band aids, pull them off. You’ll be happy you did.