The Appointment Culture Light – PART 1

The Appointment Culture Light – PART 1

TRANSCRIPT: Hi, this is Steve Stauning with another “Steve Stauning, Short and Sweet Video Training Session”. Today’s lesson – The Appointment Culture. The light version. There’s a reason for this class. Now, I assume you’ve already watched “Creating an Appointment Culture”. If you haven’t already watched it, please go back and watch “Creating an Appointment Culture” and then come back and watch this class.

I’ve trained hundreds of dealers on the appointment culture and most dealerships simply cannot make this happen. Now, you’re not lazy and you’re not stupid. If you are a car dealer, you have biases that keep you and your team from succeeding beyond where you are right now.

There are three primary biases that are hurting you. Now these affect most businesses but especially car dealerships. One of the biases is called “The Success Bias”. The success bias simply says, “We were successful in the past”, or “We are successful today, in the present, so we’re awesome without this new thing. Thank you very much.”

There is also “The Clock Bias”. The clock bias is something that I’ve seen affect almost every desk manager I’ve ever worked with. And that is simply this, “We don’t have time. We’re too busy driving to stop and get gas”. Now, let me give you a hint about the appointment culture: If you put the true appointment culture into place; if you are truly doing the perfect appointment with every appointment that shows up at your dealership, your desk takes less time. It takes less time for your desk managers to manage through an appointment culture versus managing traditional ‘Ups’.

The final bias that affects car dealerships today is called “The Satisfaction Bias”. The satisfaction bias is simply “Good enough is good enough”. I run into dealers all the time who are doing well, and, so they’re okay. They don’t need to do any better. Do you ever wonder why some dealers just explode and get bigger and bigger, month in, month out, year after year? They just grow and grow and grow until they become these monster dealerships. You ask their competitors, “Hey, how’d they get so big?” And, they’ll explain, “Gosh, if I had a million dollars to spend on advertising a month, I’d be that big too”.

That’s not how they got that big.

See, they had a dissatisfaction. Most dealers simply don’t have that. See, they’re dissatisfied with their performance. They might have a blowout month. They may have a record month and they celebrate for about ten minutes and then they are dissatisfied. They need their next month to be bigger than their last month. That’s what separates top dealers from bottom dealers. It’s not a bad thing to have a satisfaction bias but you’ve got to want more than you currently have. The Appointment Culture Light is intended to help dealers create an appointment culture despite your inherent biases.

Let’s talk quickly about dealer training. Training or consulting with America’s car dealers is fun and it’s also frustrating. It’s fun because selling cars at retail presents one of the most challenging and, yet, entertaining pursuits one can ever endeavor to undertake. If you’re not a car dealer you don’t understand this. If you don’t work in automotive retail you simply won’t understand this, but the fact of the matter is: working the sales desk at a car dealership that’s really cooking, is about the most fun that you can have and get paid for. It should be a reality show every single day.

But, let’s talk about the frustrating part of training Americas car dealers. See, it’s frustrating because car dealers have been presented with so many ‘quick fixes’, so many ‘magic bullets’, so many ‘game changers’ over the past 100+ years, that most of them are often wary of anything new and especially anything that’s slightly uncomfortable. See, change is uncomfortable. Beyond the frustration caused by an, understandably, overly-cautious dealer, there is this frustration that comes from spending three days with an open-minded dealers top managers; people who should be constantly mindful of keeping the dealers best interest first and foremost, having them nod repeatedly when challenges are identified, opportunities are discussed, solutions are formed, saying “Yeah, we’re all in, Steve!” Right? Yet, only to have them do absolutely nothing you’ve agreed to do once you leave their town.

That’s the frustrating part about training today’s car dealers.

If you’re a little confused about what I mean here, let me give you a typical play-by-play when I work with a dealership where the managers are hell-bent on never leaving their comfort zone. So, the dealer has hired me to come in. He wants me to train his team. He pays me to come in for three days and work exclusively with his desk, with his sales managers, but those sales managers decide right from the very beginning: “We ain’t changing a thing”. So, here’s how it works: the dealer principal, the ‘owner’, if you will, identifies current and future risks to the business, and hires an outsider, a consultant, an expert, like me, to help his or her team formulate some kind of strategy to mitigate these risks while, simultaneously, they are working to grow their sales and profit at a rate that’s faster than the market. That’s why dealers hire consultants and trainers, right? They want to get better. They want to go faster than the market.

Now, the consultant will usually spend two to five days in the dealership. They will train the owner’s team; they’ll build solutions that, if enacted, will likely hold off the risks and vault the dealer ahead of their competitors. Now, once the consultant has moved on to the next dealership – see, consultants can’t do the heavy lifting – the owners/managers will find ways to give lip service to the proposed changes. They will create ‘work a rounds’ to appease their dealer/principals desire to enact real improvements. They’ll find ways to creatively report, to do whatever it takes to show the dealer that they are actually putting these things in place and this is the primary reason that I generally approach all new assignments as one-time visits.

There are too many consultants in all industries that love the money and job security that comes with the, all too common, ‘Evaluate, Consult, Repeat’, right? Evaluate, Consult, Repeat assignments that can go on for years and years with little to no real return for their client. Now, I’m not built that way. I’m too much of a ‘control freak’ not to damn near demand that my clients improve.

So, let’s talk about dealerships today. Given the market challenges created by both pricing transparency, which is driving down margins, while increasing the effective competition for most dealers, to ever increasing fickleness of consumer loyalty for a single dealership or even a single brand, most of my training, lately, involves helping dealers create this appointment culture that we are talking about today. The fact of the matter is: The appointment culture, when properly embraced and enacted, moves a dealer from being forced, by the market, to become the Walmart of car dealers (that’s where the dealer mostly competes on price), to voluntarily becoming known as the Ritz-Carlton of car dealers. That’s where the dealership provides an exceptional customer experience each and every time. One that consumers will almost always pay extra for to enjoy.