And then the GM said, “We used to do that!”

It was in late 1987, and I was conducting an in-dealership workshop focused on Financial and Operational Planning and Controls. I was describing an F&I process that I had recommended to increase service contract penetration, when the general manager said, “We used to do that.” In response to his statement, I asked, “Did it work?” “Absolutely,” he answered. I was tempted to say, “Then why did you stop doing it?”, but I was new to the consulting business and didn’t want to risk offending one of my few clients. As it turns out, it was probably just as well that I refrained from asking that question. Because in my 30 years of training and consulting, if I’ve heard a client-dealer or manager say, “We used to do that” once, I’ve heard it five hundred times. And in the numerous times that I’ve asked, “Why did you stop?”, I’ve never gotten a good answer (but rather mostly blank stares).

Well, the two real reasons for why they stopped aren’t all that hard to identify:

  1. Either new people (managers, producers, or both) have joined the organization and brought with them their own way of doing things, or
  2. The activity or process that was discontinued was never well-anchored in the organization to begin with.

I’ve written previously about dealership cultural needs and deficiencies. One of the tenets of any strong business culture is Accountability Management. And one of the primary elements of effective accountability management in an automotive dealership is to:

Develop and implement a systemic structure. (Because we know that dissimilar people operating within a systemic structure will produce similar results.)

The “systemic structure” refers to clearly defined processes. So when we have a proven process that consistently produces measurable and predictable results, that process must become embedded within the culture of our dealership. It needs to be continually savored, enhanced, honored, and talked about.

Would you like to improve your dealership culture so you’ll never get caught saying, “We used to do that?” Review my web site at www.ghaGPS.com and learn how Garry House & Associates provides Value First, and then call me at 561-744-2627. I’ll listen and recommend a solution that’s right for you and your team.

Warmest regards,

Garry House

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