How Dealerships Can Stay Mighty When Stretched Thin
While it might be true that working smart is better than just working hard, sometimes, there’s no getting around the “work hard” and “work long” parts of the equation for auto dealerships. Whether you’re dealing with a temporarily light crew due to summer vacations or your staff size is small (but your dealership’s ambitions are not), having a lot to do and not a lot of people to help do it can be overwhelming.
But working smart has one big advantage that just working hard never will: It doesn’t have an upper limit. And while hard work doesn’t make smart work smarter, the reverse is not true: Smart work makes the hard work you’re already doing work harder. It’s a force multiplier without reservations or conditions. When your cup is already overflowing with too much work, and you wish you could multiply yourself by four (or more), take a good look at how smartly your processes are working. (Because you already know how hard you’re working.)
Simplify and streamline: Look at existing processes and see where you’re truly efficient, as opposed to just doing things “they way they’ve always been done.” Chances are, you’ll find redundant or time-consuming tasks that can be eliminated or automated. Streamline paperwork, inventory management, customer service, and other operational procedures to reduce the burden on staff members. Titling and registration is one of the core processes every dealership has to manage, and it in particular can be incredibly tedious, complex, and lengthy. Using a service such as our TT&R solution can save you days – or even weeks – of work, while also keeping you immune from the myriad risks of out-of-state sales regulations and requirements.
Get the right tech for the job: You shouldn’t be sharpening your pencil with grandpa’s Case Trapper from the 1940s, and you likewise shouldn’t rely on similarly inefficient tools to manage your dealership. There are some great technologies to automate and simplify tasks. Implement a dealer management system (also called a DMS, a type of customer management platform specifically for auto dealers) to manage leads, track customer interactions, and streamline sales processes. There are tons of great solutions to help dealers efficiently manage vehicle stock, monitor reordering, and track sales performance. DMSes are powerful multitools that get their many jobs done well.
Train your staff to be ready for anything: Invest in training programs to give your staff the skills and knowledge to handle a larger workload. Offer regular training sessions on customer service, sales techniques, product knowledge, and administrative tasks. And cross-training isn’t just good for cardio. Making sure team members can step in and help in other departments, especially when your staff is small or when there is an unexpected absence, helps all staff handle their responsibilities more efficiently and provide better service to customers.
And give them a power boost, too: Delegate tasks and responsibilities among team members to optimize efficiency. Identify employees’ strengths and assign them roles that align with their expertise. Empower employees by granting them decision-making authority within their scope of work. This does more than just increase efficiency. It’s a boost to employee morale and engagement, too. That’s priceless.
Be customer-first – and mean it: As the dealership grows, maintaining excellent customer service becomes even more critical – and difficult. Make sure your staff is equipped to handle customer inquiries, complaints, and requests promptly and professionally. Set up clear communication channels to address customer concerns and provide timely updates. Satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat customers and refer others to your dealership. Word of mouth is still the driving force in dealership reputation.
Tighten up inventory management: When you have a well-done system to track inventory, monitor demand, and optimize reordering processes, the tough job of inventory management gets a whole lot easier. Regular audits are at the heart of inventory management success. They ensure accurate record-keeping and usually reveal opportunities to streamline processes (very often with the great technology tools we mentioned above). Locked-down, solid, repeatable processes that catch everything help prevent stockouts, minimize carrying costs, and improve overall efficiency.
Amplify brainpower through collaboration: Forge partnerships with other businesses in the automotive industry, such as local repair shops or car service centers. Many minds are better than one, and shared resources are powerful assets. By working together with allies in your industry, you can help streamline operations, reduce costs, and provide additional value to customers. For instance, you can establish referral programs or joint marketing initiatives to expand your customer base and increase efficiency through your combined might.
Monitor, adapt, and refocus: Finally, once you have the right pieces in place, tend to your “efficiency ecosystem” the way you would a garden. Your processes need care and attention on a regular basis – because even the best-oiled machines don’t run on their own forever. Regularly evaluate your dealership’s performance and identify areas for improvement. Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales metrics, customer satisfaction ratings, and employee productivity. Analyze data to gain insights into your operations and make data-driven decisions. Embrace feedback from customers and employees to adapt and refine your processes. And if this sounds like a lot? It certainly is! But the smart work force multiplying the hard work will be incredibly and immediately apparent, and it won’t be as difficult as it was before you deliberately optimized your standard ops.
A small staff or a skeleton crew doesn’t lock you out of doing big things and making big wins. Take the time to get your dealership humming, invest in your staff’s knowledge and morale, and call on the right partners to help. That way, the road you’re on will always lead you to success.