What would it look like if you followed a customer through their interactions with your sales, service or parts staff? Where would you have made their life more difficult, more complicated or less efficient? How about your internal processes? What would you see if you followed an employee as they completed one of their tasks?

Examine those interactions and follows these three steps to boost your dealership's efficiency, says author David Finkel in an article for Inc.com. 

1. Map it out

Flow chart the steps a prospect takes from the first serious step in your sales process through the purchase of equipment. What happens after they buy?

Once you've laid that process out visually, do the same thing from the perspective of your sales team, for instance. Follow them through the flow of what they do and where they go, step by step, as they complete the process.

2. Audit the process

Gather together a small team of your key people for 90 minutes. Put your two flowcharts up on the wall. Start with the customer-view flowchart and ask the following questions:

  • What jumps out at you as not making sense about this process?
  • How could you reduce the number of steps in your overall process?
  • How could you spend a little more money and get an exponential increase in production efficiency?
  • What frictions are there in the process that are bogging everything else down? How could you streamline your process to remove or at least minimize these factors?
  • What steps are missing that, if you added them to the process, would improve the efficiency, consistency, quality, or value of your product or service for your customers?
  • What are your most expensive constraints to selling and producing at much higher volumes? Is it your physical space? Or a lack of key team? Or perhaps a lack of certain systems or automation? Identifying your most expensive constraints will give you clues about how to refine your core workflow to maximize around these constraints.

Now take a second pass at these questions, and this time, focus specifically on the "internal" flow diagram of how your team has to work to currently produce your product or service.

3. Implement key improvements

At this point, you have an overwhelming list of ideas that you should do to improve your core flow. However, there is no way you and your team can implement all these ideas at one time. In fact, doing so could disrupt your business.

Instead, go back over your list of possible process enhancements and apply the "low-hanging fruit" and "home run" filters. In other words, is this idea easy to put into practice and are you fairly certain it will work? If it is, mark that idea with an "LH" for low-hanging fruit.

Then, do a second, separate pass and ask of each item on your list, "Is this a home run?" In other words, if it works, will it have a big impact on the efficiency, consistency, or quality of the way you do business? If the answer is yes, mark that item with an "HR."

Now go back to your list and pull out all the LH or HR items and you'll have a manageable number to start implementing. 

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