As 2011 is upon us, it is hard to believe that we arrived here so quickly. Time really does seem to accelerate as we become older (and hopefully wiser). In that wisdom, certain principles prevail and, thank goodness, success leaves us clues on how to grow and develop into our potential, both as individuals and as organizations.

One of these principles is that change is hard. Organizations and individuals who acknowledge this reality are far more successful because they understand that without clarity, change will not occur.

Realize that continuing to do what you have always done and expecting a different (improved) result is the true definition of insanity. So if 2011 is to be the kind of year you can be proud of, start first with the end in mind. Regardless of where your current back-end results sit, make the conscious decision to establish the new targets for per-vehicle-retailed and per-product penetrations. Then publicly announce to the entire staff that this is the goal.

In order to get the team to change, the leader must communicate the destination to the entire group. Otherwise the collective efforts are just not likely to occur. It is the lack of clarity that kills most change initiatives.

Keep in mind there are powerful forces at work against you in this desire to change and improve. Left on their own, most people are quietly content and willing to accept the status quo. There is significant effort required to establish new patterns or routines for any individual/team.

The first of these changes could be something as simple as deciding 100 percent truly means 100 percent. Sure, we talk about this principle in menu selling, but does it really occur? Over the past 10-plus years of auditing hundreds of deal jackets (typically 10 at a time), only once have the results yielded 100-percent compliance to at least having a copy of the menu in all 10 deal jackets! If the menu form is not even in the file, what is the likelihood that a full effort was made to properly present and disclose all aspects of the protection options available?

Perhaps the solution lies in speaking to the head, the heart and of course the wallet of all parties involved in supporting this change.

Chip and Dan Heath’s most recent book, “Switch,” speaks directly to this issue of head and heart. They label them as the rider and the elephant. The rider represents the head or the mind. Sure, you as the dealer can mandate that change or improvement must occur or serious consequences will follow (termination), but threat of termination will only go so far. The mind can tell the F&I manager, “Do this or else,” but how long will that individual be able to maintain focus and perform at a high level under duress?

The real power of change does not sustain itself from the logical rider, but rather from the emotional elephant. The power to sustain change must come from the heart of the person you are attempting to influence. The motivation must in the end come from self-serving interest. Of course, we all know that the great motivator in our industry is money/compensation.

It has often been said that if you want a job description, simply examine the pay plan. There are many individuals who possess expertise in designing compensation strategies (I assure you I am not one of them). All I suggest is that you find a coach to assist you in identifying alternative compensation models to influence the behavior you are seeking.

In the end, the rewards for achieving the targeted outcomes will likely be much more critical to your store’s success than just communicating the consequences of falling short.

Vol. 8, Issue 1