Professionals in the automotive industry are always looking for ways to get ahead and advance their careers. Whenever this topic arises, I think of an analogy I heard long ago: windshields need wipers to clear away the rain and snow, and a defroster to clear away the fog, but the rearview mirror always seems clear. When you look back on your career, you can always see clearly what the smartest decisions were, when in the moment, everything seemed so uncertain.
I started out in the car business under the typical dealer-son plan and was determined to do everything I could to advance. In order of roles and responsibilities, I scooped shop drains, detailed cars, drove the parts truck, worked in the body shop, sold cars, ran the used car department, and eventually became an Oldsmobile dealer at the age of 26. Additionally, I owned and sold a couple of businesses outside the car business, I worked with a consulting group to buy, sell, and turn around companies, and helped to guide families through ownership transitions.
Fast forward 40 years to today, and I'm now starting my eighth year as a 20 Group moderator, consultant, and trainer with NCM. I am extremely proud of my career, and after looking back over all of my different ventures, I see one common factor that has the greatest impact on any organization.
Answering the “How Do I Feel” Question
One of my 20 Group members and I had a discussion about one of his stores that is not doing well. He sent me a list of key performance/leading indicators that he is focused on and asked if there was anything else that he may have missed. I looked at his numbers, and then I asked if I could run a few questions by him.
1. I asked how he felt about the store and market in which it was operating in?
He said it's a great market and the store should be doing much better.
2. How do you feel about the senior leadership in the store?
3. How do you feel about the management team in the variable and fixed operations?
He was quick to respond that fixed operations are on target, and he had total confidence in the fixed management team.
From these questions, I had my answer. He didn’t feel confident in his senior leadership team on the variable side of the dealership.
My observation, especially after working with so many automotive leaders in my 20 Groups and other business ventures, has been that the “how I feel” is one of the biggest factors when considering how a business runs. The way business leaders feel about a specific aspect of the dealership trickles down to the management team. How the management team feels trickles down to the associates, and from there it transmits directly to the customers. If you don’t feel confident, neither will your employees or your customers.
Evaluate How You Feel
If you haven’t really thought about this aspect of your business before, try this: beginning with yourself, rank how you feel about the following areas of your store on a scale of 1 – 10 (with 10 being the best):
- Your brand
- Your market
- Your store
- Your management team
If your overall rating in all these categories is not above an eight, write down the specific reasons why you don’t feel this area is exceptional. From there, you can determine and implement a strategy to change that feeling. While data points can help your business thrive, don’t forget that your gut feeling is also an important factor in your success.