We don't have an "accountability culture" in the car business, and we need one. Badly. For great examples why, just look at the sports we love that are so successful!

The NFL keeps stats on players that boggle the mind and produce hours and hours of ESPN commentary; basketball hinges on free throw percentages that can haunt a player’s (and team’s) season; and, from long ago to now, baseball has led them all with stats that kept the players accountable in a witches brew of information.

These are all sports we know and love in the car biz. And they are accountable in every play they make. Or don’t. Every day in every season.

And yet somehow we don’t have that same Accountability Culture.

What do I mean? Imagine this:

  • Every call you make or receive for vehicle sales is logged and followed up on for sales-making appointments using your CRM.
  • Every prospect that walks on to your showroom floor is properly greeted, gets a needs assessment, and is logged into your CRM along the Road to the Sale.
  • Every unsold prospect that leaves your showroom is pursued with strong follow-up via phone and email, all contact logged into your CRM, to create as many sellable be-backs as possible.

And so:

  • You know your true store closing ratio because of these two items inside your CRM along with the SOLD unit number. You begin to see the real state of sales and make adjustments from these facts to grow your business—everything from advertising to inventory goes into this.
  • You begin to know what real follow-up call and email methods and schedules work in your market, and you make sales *and* CSI gains.
  • You use the unsold and sold customer information in the CRM to create call and email campaigns where every email opened and call made and received is logged and known for sales and service results.
  • And the Internet Department grows into even more sales than today, because it is by nature the most-accountable work (lead/call/visit) in the entire dealerships.


Doesn’t this sound great?? And yet far too many dealerships don’t have the Accountability Culture in place: The owner wants accountability tools and processes but too often turns away to leave them solely in the GM’s hands; the GM may or may not want an Accountability Culture, but gets really uncomfortable if the tools and processes seem to say he or she isn't doing the proper job; and the salespeople in general don't want accountability at all because they want to be judged on the sales they make, not on the UPs they burned through to “make their eight”.

I guarantee most dealerships in the USA don’t use their CRM properly, and they don’t have processes that lead to true accountability to show true results. At all. Replacing the CRM has become almost a hobby at some dealerships, thinking that it’s a tool holding them back.

Well, an Accountability Culture would even work with a pen and paper. Because it starts in the heart and is led from the top, and it flows down to every position from there.

If you lead a store and believe your CRM “is not working”, make sure you look into a mirror before you spend $100,000 to make that change. Do you even know how to log into, much less use, the CRM you have? And If you lead a department, are your folks truly accountable to you for their work towards sales production— is your “22 car guy” burning through 200 UPs a month and you don’t know?  In other words, as a department manager DO YOU USE THE CRM? As a salesperson, aren’t you trying to be more efficient and work less hard for MORE MONEY? All that is in the CRM if you go there.

Because accountability isn’t a discussion at the coffee machine. And it isn’t just the sales you made this month, either.

It’s the sales you missed.  You know, the ones you’d be accountable for, too, if you really wanted accountability for everyone? The ones you can get with beback efforts of follow-up? Accountability Makes Sales Happen!

Accountability is for Winners. What is your culture?

By Keith Shetterly, VP of Drive360 CRM
Former eComm Group Director, Former Consultant
Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved, keith@drive360crm.com


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Comment by Wendy Reeves on March 11, 2015 at 10:52pm

Absolutely phenomenal read.  You are right on.  It's easy to identify the problem, not so easy to get buy in from the top as to how to solve the problem.  I have seen it done, and the results are amazing.  I have also seen dealers start to hire people (especially dealer groups) in administrative positions where the main responsibility is to "babysit", for lack of a better word, the dealership staff to ensure that all follow up is on target, work plans being completed, "heat" calls getting escalated to management for resolution, etc.  I have also seen a trend in passing after-visit followup to the BDC staff to make sure that potential customers don't fall between the cracks.  I agree with Mike Warwick, and I also say that "if it isn't in the CRM, it never happened."  Great comments here to an even greater post!  Looking forward to reading part two.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 4, 2015 at 11:57am

Thanks all! For those reading, here is Part 2 of this series http://www.dealerelite.net/profiles/blogs/the-accountability-cultur.... The above is Part 1.

Comment by steven chessin on March 3, 2015 at 1:24pm

Keith - Part of the problem you call "Accountability Culture" comes from some deep-rooted business errors in the auto dealership culture. There is a  "NOW CULTURE" of short-sighted instant-gratification that happens inside the brick-and-glass. Farmers know that while some crops are being harvested seeds for other crops need to be planted. The CRM should have the data on which customers have new drivers ready for graduation present 'Starter Cars' to take to college in the Fall  ---- oh excuse me  --- nobody thought to enter data on the kids. Never-mind. Old-fashioned salesmen using their Rolodexes would have what our state-of-the-art software doesn't. It doesn't matter how good the tools-of-the-trade become if people don't know how to use them. 

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 3, 2015 at 11:11am

Thanks Russell! And Marc and Steven and Larry. :)

Comment by Russell B. Hill on March 3, 2015 at 9:57am

Very well written as well as being true.

Comment by Marc Van Baelen on March 3, 2015 at 8:08am

Hello Keith , I’m convinced that it’s GM’S job to gather his team around the CRM. Setting up the goals, delegating tasks... and team review in order seek for progress and manage success. 

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 2, 2015 at 9:14am

Thanks for the comments everyone! Steve, I think I will write that book. :)

Comment by steven chessin on February 28, 2015 at 3:40pm

Larry - This may be the best DE article ever ! It could be expanded into a book. I would encourage Keith to add 199 pages to this.Following  the Superbowl the Seahawks' coach said, "It was only the wrong call because it didn't work". President Nixon said, "I accept the responsibility but not the blame".  (?)   

The problems at all stores are the same :

1 conversion from showroom-to-sale  2 appointment-to-kept appointment  3 contact-to-appointment  4 page-view-to-contact  5 search-to-page view  6 loyalty sales and service customers-to-current. (repeat and referral) The crm provides the "known knowns" - The intermediate "known unknowns"- And insights into the advanced "Unknown Unknowns".   

Comment by Larry Sherstad on February 28, 2015 at 10:52am

Keith, great article! If only there was a deeper understanding of the importance of the CRM tool to the Salesman, Manager and Owner. Your comments are right on target.

Comment by steven chessin on February 27, 2015 at 7:41pm

Keith - True accountability is often untouchable. It is like "The Emperor's New Clothes" where people are afraid to say what they know because rank has privilege. As a dealer group bdc director I studied the crm and knew where the problems were. Discovering reasons in a crm is one thing but solutions can be complex or impossible.

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