Most dealership owners and their managers have been exposed to quality improvement systems from either their manufacturer or third-party providers. Trying to implement these processes and getting everyone’s buy-ins can seem overwhelming. For dealers with more than one dealership/franchise to oversee, getting results that meet your expectations on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis can a very cumbersome task.

Here’s a couple of questions you must explore: Do you really want to know what happened in your store(s) yesterday? What should you expect when you implement a process improvement system?

Be prepared to be disappointed when you initially review your true data on your store’s regular performance! Why? In most cases, what you think is happening on a daily basis may be a far cry from your store’s actual daily routine. This includes everything from meeting customer needs, new/used vehicle sales gross standards, asset management, etc. Inconsistent results can contribute to lost customers, lost revenue, and lost market share.

Manufacturers have used programs like Six Sigma to reduce process errors, and they can help improve any dealership process. When continuous process improvement programs become a key element to your store’s daily routine, you also get a personal peace of mind, plus your business’ survival. If you only base your decisions on a Daily Operations Control report or a monthly financial statement, you’ll only be able to write a history report. Rather, proactive implementation of a quality improvement initiative can help monitor daily business practices that will produce successful results. In addition, you’ll increase internal competition while maintaining the departmental goals and standards.

Implementing Process Improvements

So how should a dealership get started implementing a process improvement system? Select some key, relevant information that you need to know daily, then develop a database management tool to track your baseline performance. Be sure to mine accurate data from your computer system, and do not rely on handwritten department logs that can be manipulated.

After your baseline has been established, set your goals for improvement and use a common- sense approach to solving problems. Your team will agree it’s smart to understand the problem first before trying to resolve it. This method, which includes selecting the problem or issue, gathering and analyzing the right data, then identifying the root cause will result in a cultural change of habits. Implement new action steps to drive the new processes to ensure that your team does not revert to its old ways. This data-driven methodology means that decisions are based on facts and data, not gut feelings or how it’s been done in the past.

Why Isn’t Everyone Doing This?

Tracking your store’s performance regularly is vital to the success of each process. And it takes commitment and hard work. All functions in life or business are processes, in one form or another. Try to understand, analyze, and improve processes. Then take on one process at a time, with the goal of improving the results. As your team becomes more familiar with the basic methodology, they will adopt these new disciplines.

Data mining systems like AutoAlert can aid your internal processes by showing you which customers are high prospects for vehicle upgrades or to swap keys for the same monthly payment. Pando is an AutoAlert app that speeds customer service and processes by making task management easy and transparent. By being able to monitor your store’s activities, you can “Inspect What You Expect!” And remember, constant dedication is the key to creating and maintaining your desired results.

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