Many times, the one thing that is keeping dealerships from moving forward is their employees’ lack of focus. Most employees come in, do their job to the best of their ability and then race out the door at 5 p.m.

It’s not because they don’t like the business — it’s that the business is just a job and they don’t see the importance of what they do. The focus they lack is a result of the owner not understanding the importance of having a strong and compelling vision for the dealership. 


Learn from History

Throughout history, you can find pivotal points where countries leaped forward, often because of a vision from the leader. A leader stepped up to cast a new vision and had the strength of conviction to move people forward. From George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to John Kennedy to Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan, great leaders stepped forward with a strong and compelling vision and changed the course of history.

You can do the same thing in your dealership. As the owner or manager, it is your job to cast a compelling vision that will inspire the hearts and minds of your people. As the vision catches fire, you will find that those employees who were once watching the clock will come in a little earlier and stay a little later.

Everyone wants to be a part of something significant; no one just wants a job. There is nothing you can do in your dealership that will have more impact on the performance of your people, the experience of your customers and the profitability of your store than developing your vision, sharing it with your people and then leading them to achieve it.

As you begin the process of thinking about your vision you will discover that it involves three elements that come together to make it powerful. First is the end game, what do you want to accomplish? The second element involves time, when do you want it to be accomplished? And the final element is the people involved, who will benefit by the accomplishment?

Think about what President Kennedy’s goal. He wanted to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely. When did he want to accomplish it? By the end of the decade. Who was he accomplishing this for? The American people.

Kennedy’s vision was one that all of America felt like they had a vested interest in, and the same thing can happen with vision in your dealership.

After we landed on the moon and brought the astronauts home safely, we didn’t stop there. Space exploration has continued. There has always been another goal or vision to keep moving us forward.

Find the Time

How do you come up with a plan for success or a vision for your dealership? I encourage you as an owner to get away from your dealership for an afternoon and devote quality time thinking about what you would like to accomplish if time, money or people weren’t a factor.

Think about that possibility for a moment. If you had all the time in the world, all the money you could spend, the perfect people you had to continue your business — until the day you die — what would you do differently than you are doing now? Who you would hire, what would your store look like, how would you pay your people and what kind of experience would you give your customers?

That’s where you start. Dream big. I understand that some of you are just trying to survive, that you’re operating on hope rather than vision. However, I am a firm believer that with the right vision and the ability to cast the vision so that your managers or your people can catch it, you can radically change your business and do things you only dreamed as possibilities. 

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Incorporating the Entire Dealership

You must understand the importance a vision has on your dealership as a whole. You vision for success can’t be solely dependent on your wholegoods sales. It has to incorporate all of your employees and departments.

While most of the dealerships I consult with depend heavily on equipment sales to survive, we all know that equipment sales are impacted by both the weather and the economy. That’s why it’s important to build your dealership around all your departments, not just sales. If it hasn’t rained in 4 months, few lawnmowers are going to be sold. If there has been no snow for the last 3 years, most people won’t be motivated to buy a snow blower regardless of the price. That’s why it’s so important to get the whole dealership involved in the vision.

I recommend that your goal is to have your parts and service department absorb at least 85% of the cost of your dealership. This is referred to as an absorption ratio. Because, while you may not be able to control if it has snowed in the last three years, you set your posted labor rate, you decide how long each job will take and you buy parts from yourself.

When you are able to sit down and truly define what your vision for success in your dealership will look like, your dealership will be unstoppable.

Next Installment: Motivating Your Employees
Tune in to tomorrow’s RLD Daily for Planning for Success Part 2: Motivating Your Employees.