If the only place you’ve ever worked is for one of America’s car dealerships, then you may not be aware that other industries don’t reward those who steal from their coworkers. Only dealership employees enjoy the added perk of being rewarded for cheating each other at will.
We call it skating; and it works like this:
A prospect I assisted a few days ago (and properly entered into the CRM) arrives at the dealership while I’m at lunch. He asks for me, though one of my coworkers feeds him a line similar to this:
“Steve is actually off today, but he and I work together as partners. I can help you with your purchase and make sure he gets full credit.”
My “partner” sells the vehicle and attempts to further the deception by titling the car in the spouse’s name and/or by using a different phone number and email address than what I entered when the prospect first arrived at the dealership.
In every other industry this is fraud. Fraud, by the way, that would lead to an immediate termination if discovered.
When caught skating (a much better word than fraud, right?) in automotive retail, we “penalize” the skater by taking away half of the deal. That is, we split the sales commission between the person who should have been allowed to sell the customer (me) and the guy who lied and cheated and tried to cover up his lying and cheating to sell the customer (the skater).
To put this in really absurd terms, imagine if I robbed a bank. I got away with $10,000. When the police caught me, they took $5,000 from me and let me go with a hearty pat on the back and the remaining $5,000.
This is how we treat those who steal from their coworkers in automotive. We give them half the loot… if we catch them.
There’s No Downside Risk, Is There?
The problem with trying to stop skating today is that there is no downside risk for the skater. Think about it:
They are incentivized to cheat.
This is what needs to change. I don’t know about you, but if I was running a dealership or group today, I would be tired of constantly splitting the baby. You know, the never-ending “he said/he said” debates where you ultimately just do what’s “fair” and give the cheater half the loot.
For the most part, skating is just the natural result of the rules (written and unwritten) that you have in place.
People Work Their Pay Plans
If there is one axiom more true in automotive than “people work their pay plans” I truly do not know what that might be. We create the skating, in effect, because our rules encourage laziness and reward skating. One common example is the 72-Hour Rule most stores employ to “protect” a prospect (while giving the salesperson absolutely no incentive to actually follow up):
I catch an Up on Monday and enter their data in the CRM; though I do not sell them a vehicle. The Up comes back on Wednesday (my day off) and buys. With a 72-Hour Rule in place at my dealership, I am automatically awarded half the deal.
I made no follow up attempts. I set no appointments. I got lucky this Up didn’t run into a real salesperson after they left our dealership on Monday.
The rules state that I deserve half of this deal.
It’s time to change these rules.
Here are my 5 simple rules for eliminating skating forever:
1. An Internet/BDC Deal is defined as a prospect who buys after arriving for a pre-scheduled, valid appointment set by a member of the Internet/BDC Team. If a prospect contacts the dealership via an internet or phone source, but arrives and buys without an appointment, this is NOT considered an Internet Deal for the purposes of rewarding the Internet/BDC Team; regardless of their prior interaction with the store.
2. A Valid Appointment is a defined as a prospect that arrives at the dealership on or near their pre-scheduled appointment time (within 45 minutes either way). If any prospect who has scheduled an appointment arrives at the dealership outside the 45-minute window, they are not considered a Valid Appointment and anyone is eligible and encouraged to sell them a vehicle; regardless of their prior interaction with the store.
3. The only prospects that will be considered “protected” and will result in either a split deal (where the primary salesperson was unavailable, though in the store) or a zero deal for the skater (where the primary salesperson was available, but not given their protected prospect) are the following:
4. No prospects will be “protected” if they arrive on the salesperson’s day off; and no split deals will be offered on these.
5. Anyone who “Ups” and sells a protected prospect will receive no credit or commission for the sale unless (1) the primary salesperson was unavailable; and (2) a sales manager expressly assigned the prospect to the new salesperson.
Announce these today and begin enforcement in 30 days, and you’ll never have to split the baby again. I guarantee it.
Of course, for those of you who are quick on the uptake, you’ve also realized there are two additional benefits of these rules beyond the elimination of skating. These rules, if enforced, will compel your sales team to start making actual calls and setting real appointments.
Your floor team will begin following up with Be-Backs and their owner base. The Internet/BDC Team will start making actual phone calls instead of cherry-picking leads while spewing no-gross pricing from the safety of their email.
These 5 simple rules will change the culture of your store literally overnight.
But, like all rules, the first time you make an exception, any exception, you’re done. The rule no longer matters. It’s lost its teeth; and you find yourself once again in a he said/he said moment trying split another baby.
Not me. I’m tired of encouraging laziness and rewarding cheaters.