Watch the morning coffee clutch gather for their morning ritual. Try to listen to what the tone of the day is going to be. Are they focused on trying to solve the world’s political problems? Maybe the topic will be centered on global warming or the price of oil. There’s always that center-of-attention person trying to steer the conversation towards what’s not happening rather than what is happening.

If you observe the attention-grabbing lieutenant, you might be able to see the driving force behind his or her failures. Generally speaking, the disruption in the psyche of the staff stems from the provocation of this person. However, noticeably missing from this collective group of disenchanted mourners is the top producer. Coincidently, the top producer is busy working on his or her game plan for the day, following up on unsold customers, greeting existing customers in the service drive, mailing out thank-you cards, sending e-mail blasts and prospecting for future business. Truth be told, they don’t have the time to sit around and talk about world issues.

The remainder of the staff which supports the coffee clutch group generally makes up the bottom third of sales for the dealership. Those underachievers wonder why top producers stay at the top and consistently make more money. Some are content watching sales being conducted around them, while they ponder why no customers are walking through the front doors for them. Often, the underachiever will look at the production of a top-tier producer and write off their success as luck. The common misconception from the unproductive is that the top-tier sales producer gets “house” deals or seems to always be in the right place at the right time. It’s no wonder the elite are in the right place most of the time. They put themselves in the position to do just that. They’re not off smoking cigarettes, on a relentless coffee break, running errands or conveniently unavailable when a group of young buyers stroll on the lot.

It’s been said that cancer starts within a single cell. Those cells don’t always appear abnormal at first glance. The change is when the cell mutates and begins to grow beyond its normal capacity. Cancer cells show themselves in many different forms, everything from the seriously destructive to the non-lethal. The treatment for cancer isn’t always equal and varies based on the severity of the cancer. The intellectual cancer who appears in your showroom needs to be managed much the same, as the severity of the destructive behavior dictates the treatment. 

Surrounding your sales department with positive, productive people is central to a successful sales environment. In every dealership there are the “edgers,” the small group usually consisting of one to two people who are on the edge of greatness. The edgers want to be great, and they think there is a possibility of greatness but just cannot see the light yet. The edgers haven’t been poisoned yet, but rather misdirected by the masses to mediocrity. These are the people we need to direct and save from the mundane.

Monitoring the coffee clutch group will allow you to take the pulse of your sales department. Clearly, the productive staff will manage their own motivation. However; the motivation of those peering upwards will need to be adjusted. The focus of the department manager is to help eradicate the negative behavior. Finding the motivation for every employee of the sales department can become trying. Heck, sometimes finding the motivation for ourselves can be a test. Not all employees need to be rewarded financially to realize their motivational potential. Just having a manager from any department recognizing an employee for even the smallest of successes is a motivator.

In the end, it’s the mood of the coffee clutch that tells you what’s happening in and around a dealership. If the tension in the showroom is transparent to management, then one can only imagine what the customer is likely to feel and see. Don’t allow the undercurrent of the coffee clutch to affect the dealership performance. Work to disrupt the course of their unplanned meeting by offering constructive solutions to their downtime. Disrupt the mental conditioning the unproductive are creating by giving the group a list of tasks to promote mental stimulation.

A lot of great leaders have said that enthusiasm was the single most important ingredient to their achievement in success. Certainly, enthusiasm is at the very center of selling success. However, persistence, ability, effort and other attributes contribute to the overall success of a professional. Without enthusiasm, even the greatest of intentions get shot down before they are ever presented.

Vol. 8, Issue 7

About the author
Joseph Clementi

Joseph Clementi

General Manager

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