3 Pillars of Success

pillars of success

The most successful businesses – including dealerships – seem to almost run themselves. That’s only because a lot of work has been put in behind the scenes to ensure that at any time, on any day, everything is handled efficiently and professionally by all team members.

I see dealerships accomplishing this through consistency in what I call the three pillars of success: structure, training, and accountability. With these in place and working together, a foundation is set for business to run smoothly.

The three are also required for addressing the number-one complaint I hear from dealers today: How do I get my team to use the software tools I’ve purchased? You’ve probably been there – you might even be there right now.

Because technology is so tied to the success of your daily operations, having a solid foundation in place to support your team every day will go a long way in supporting their use of technology.

Let’s take a closer look at how to implement the three pillars at your dealership.


During a presentation at NADA Show 2018, I asked my audience (a group of more than 150 dealers) how many of them had 75 percent of their processes documented so that employees know exactly what to do. One or two people raised their hands. The response was a little better when I asked how many had 50 percent somehow written out, with maybe 15 or 20 percent raising their hands.

Clearly, structure is lacking at most dealerships. One of the best ways to build it is through having processes in place for the daily actions at your store: sales, new-hire training, used-car sourcing, detailing, answering phones, etc. Without them, everyone will do things their own way, which leads to chaos and confusion, especially for new employees.

Once you have processes in place, hiring and retaining employees becomes much easier too. Discuss your exact procedures and expectations during the interview to see if the person is a good fit.

Great dealerships know exactly why they had a good month or a bad month.


In today’s quickly changing marketplace, with technology that’s changing quickly too, your team requires regular training now more than ever. Most dealers don’t know how to choose the right person for the job. In fact, they usually choose the wrong person: the best sales person on the team, for example. This obvious choice seems logical, but often those who are the very best at what they do aren’t very good at teaching it.

Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player of all time. But he wouldn’t make a good coach.

So how to choose? Let’s say the person in charge of sales or your BDC is on vacation all week. To whom does your team turn with their questions? That’s your trainer. This person is usually patient, approachable, and helpful. They’re in your top half in sales, but likely not at the very top.

… consistency creates a reliable “machine” for success.


The first pillar – structure – provides a basis for improving accountability. Your dealership is different from any other dealership, and anyone you hire should be made aware of your specific processes. If employees know exactly what to expect from day one, it’ll be much easier to hold them accountable later.

Another thing dealers can do to improve accountability is to be consistent with their feedback to their team. New employees often get a lot of attention, but then the communication drops off, or the employee is only approached with criticism. Keep feedback consistent, and see conversations foremost as a chance to challenge, motivate, and inspire.

Scripts and metrics are great tools for facilitating accountability, and the best technology will include them for you, along with ways of tracking employee engagement and efficiency.

Putting it all together

Great dealerships know exactly why they had a good month or a bad month. The others don’t. The biggest difference I can see between the two is how consistent they are in the three pillars – consistency creates a reliable “machine” for success.

With this machine built, you’ll have a much better idea of whether an applicant is a good fit for your team. Your employees’ strengths and weaknesses will be more apparent, helping you determine what training they need, or even what department is the best fit for them. You’ll know what to expect from your sales and marketing teams, and have a clearer view into areas that are ripe for growth. You’ll know which processes are working, and which aren’t.

Software tools are becoming more powerful and more capable of helping dealerships succeed. Build a solid foundation at your dealership where technology and your team can flourish, and reap the rewards!

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