Is that a crazy title to a blog article, or what? Recently, we had the opportunity to accompany one of our 20 Group moderators to one of his meetings. The plan was for the groups to each bring one of their variable managers to the meeting, and we would work with them separately from the dealer meeting. Then, we would report back to the dealers the next morning on how our breakout meeting went.
Before any of that started, the group met at a member's dealership on Sunday evening, shortly after the dealership had closed for the day. Many of the staff members were there to interact with us, show us around to the various departments, and answer any questions we might have about their operation. It really was a great experience. We knew this was a large, successful, and very profitable dealership. It is a rare opportunity to visit a dealership after hours and see it from that perspective. All the dealership staff seemed relaxed and yet confident about themselves and their respective positions in the dealership.
We had a wonderful meal catered on a portion of the showroom floor. Incidentally, there were no cars on the showroom floor. Instead, on the floor there were only couches, chairs, tables, and plants. It was more like a nice hotel lobby. The next evening at dinner, we happened to be sitting next to the dealer whose store we had visited the previous evening. By now, we were very familiar with their financial data to match the more personal experience with him and his staff the night before. We must have said something about what an ongoing challenge it must be to keep that level of culture and profitability maintained month after month, year after year. He agreed it was and then said that he only worked from 10:00AM to 3:00PM each day.
As you might imagine, we were a bit stunned by that comment. Then, we half-jokingly said, “And you probably go out to lunch as well right?” He looked at us and said that he certainly did go out to lunch each day with one of his staff members. What we haven’t said yet, is this person is the managing partner in the store from a large dealership group. So technically, he is the general manager; and the night before, we found out there really isn’t a general sales manager either. So we are not talking about a place that has all those roles covered by other people with those bigger titles. Our heads were kind of spinning with how this was possible. He looked over at us and said, “The reason this is now possible is that I spent years and years and years training all my people on exactly what they needed to be doing and why."
To actually hear someone talk about his years and years of training his people, and to have actually been in that store and met his people, is essentially unheard of. The next morning, when we were debriefing the dealers about the time we spent with their variable managers, we could not restrain ourselves from retelling this story to this person’s fellow group members. Maybe they already knew this. They certainly knew how profitable the store was.
So going back to the audacious title of this blog about whether “better than banker’s hours” are possible in the retail automobile industry, we can now tell you the answer is yes. It just takes years and years of training your people to know exactly what they need to be doing and why. Accountability management is essential. At the NCM Institute, we work with the six primary elements of effective accountability management as our starting point for everything. There is so much more upside opportunity available to us in the retail automobile business than we likely believe is possible. Consistent, long-term training for all of our people is apparently the key.