In the last issue of eBrief, dealers shared their thoughts on how they deal with time wasters like social media and texting. The approaches varied vastly and few believe they have the best solution. For instance, personal texting can be an issue, but texting among employees can help a dealership team better handle time-sensitive issues, especially across multiple locations.
The team at Nord Outdoor Power, Bloomington, Ill., has gone a step further and uses a mobile application called Slack.com. The solution solves some of the issues related to communicating by text or email, says owner Doug Nord. He read about the application in a business article and they’ve been using it for more than a year.
For instance, texting has its limits regarding the information you can convey — only shorter bits of texts and limited attachment functionality. And, group communication by texts can be annoying at times as recipients ping back responses and there’s no real tracking of information or action. Email sometimes is too delayed or some employees are not on computers all the time.
“A tough problem is trying to get updates every day on what is going on in the sales department. As an owner, you like to have a recap but you might be on the road and unless you have a meeting before hours it will invariably get interrupted when a customer walks in. I have a private ‘channel’ in Slack.com for a sales daily report, so my sales team can give me a quick update when I’m on the road or on vacation,” says Nord.
Here’s how Nord uses the application to increase communication, accountability and efficiency. Slack can be used across devices (mobile, table or computer), so it’s accessible by everyone. It allows him to set up different channels or communication groups. For instance, his groups include all employees, sales, service, special event teams as well as for brands they carry. “Reactions,” like a check mark, show the item has been addressed, such as when a service issue has been resolved or a call returned.
Nord is able to type up longer, formatted messages on his computer as well as attach documents, like information about new manufacturer programs. Discussions stay with the original post and can be archived. Nord says they probably only use about 30% of the app’s capabilities, especially as it constantly evolves. And, ongoing training and buy-in from the team is essential.
This is a great example of how to turn a technology negative into a positive. Things like texting and social media are not a fad. The trends of “plugged-in” employees and the combining of personal and work lives is a part of the younger generation, but employees of all ages see the personal benefits.
It’s up to you to make sure your dealership benefits as well. If technology is outside your comfort zone or something you don’t have time for, get input from your team. They may welcome the chance to introduce new ways to get their jobs done. And, thanks for continuing to share your ideas with our dealer community.