Through the years, I have listened to many leaders in our business offer hasty solutions and ideas to improve their operation and to stay competitive. Often these ideas are poorly constructed. However, once in a very-great while I will hear someone articulate a new outlook or perception to approach handling all processes. Its analogous to hearing many tactics but very few strategies. What competitive advantages am I referring to? Advantages like: finding and retaining talent; pay plans that work for everyone; auctions “that are secret” that run the cheapest vehicles; how to provide optimal customer service; the list can go on and on.
“New” strategies to improve old processes might appear bright and shiny and may grab our attention. It has been my experience that we, at times, forget the old strategies learned long ago… like in elementary school. Perhaps you can reflect how young you were when you learned how to brainstorm or thought-map.
Brain mapping is an “ole-faithful” strategy we know how to do, but often lies dormant, filed away in a dark drawer in the back of our mind. Next time you are trying to improve an area of your dealership, dust this method off and give it a try.
An effective thought map begins with a list of each step in a process. For this example, I will use hiring a salesperson.
STEP 1: LIST THE PARTS OF THE PROCESS
- Identify a need in the dealership
- Write a detailed job description
- Advertise the job
- Interview candidates
- Candidate selection processes
- Orientation and training
Next, identify the area you want to enhance. In this example, lets assume you are not very strong at interviewing candidates and you would like to strengthen this area.
STEP 2: SELECT WHAT STEP TO ENHANCE
#4 INTERVIEWING CANDIDATES
We are not fixing anything yet, so be patient. In this step, we are simply listing all of the steps to interviewing candidates.
- Review Candidate Qualifications
- Social Media Check
- Initial Contact
- First Interview
5. Background Check
STEP 3: SELECT WHAT STEP TO ENHANCE
#2 from step 2 – INITIAL CONTACT
- Call Candidate
- Ask Deal Breaker Questions
- Offer initial interview
- Schedule Date and Time
- Offer directions
Not only does this process enhance my hiring process but simultaneously creates guidelines (potential policies) for others to use in the future. Now its time for us to make an improvement or enhancement.
STEP 4: SELECT WHAT TO ENHANCE
#3 from step 3 – ASK DEAL BREAKER QUESTIONS
I have found adding “deal-breaker” questions to my initial call can be a great tweak to my hiring process for several reasons. It saves time by not interviewing the wrong candidate and it can prevent a candidate from spreading negative information about your dealership. Here are a few examples of deal-breaker questions:
- Do you have reliable transportation to get to and from work?
- Do you have a valid driver’s license?
- Are you over the age of 18 years old?
- Are you able to work legally in the United States?
- Do you have two years of previous auto sales experience?
- What days and times can you not work?
Be sure to check with your attorney to ensure you are asking questions that you can legally ask. Sitting back and spending several minutes deciding what questions to ask that prevent you from wasting 45 minutes in an initial interview can make this process more effective. Also, great questions maybe begin to indicate solid candidates and you may want to add.
This is a small example of mapping, imagine if you were visiting and revisiting all of the steps in a given process overtime. You would identify new actions for you and your team to try and discontinue.
BONUS: Imagine the impact of walking through this exercise with others on your team. Collaborating with members of your organization generate many unique ideas. I call this “Dealer-Storming” and we do it all of the time in our NIADA 20 group meetings. If you would like to learn more about “dealer-storming” or offer your comments on this article, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.