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Springfield, MO

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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

90 Ideas: John Widiger

Managing Partner, Youngblood Auto Group

Posted online

Leave your ego at the curb. You will always accomplish more in your business by being humble. Arrogance will make you unapproachable or intimidating to your people. It is very important to have frank and open lines of communication with all of your employees, because you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. If your team fears you or feels that they can’t communicate with you, it can be devastating to your business.

Communicate your expectations daily. Meeting as a team with your key departmental management every morning before their day starts will get your people focused on the daily tasks at hand. This also gives you the ability to cover what was accomplished yesterday in addition to where the company is pacing based on monthly goals. Cross departmental communication also tends to take place, bringing out great ideas from outside the box and other departments assisting with challenges someone else may be having.

Get there early and be prepared. As a leader, it is your responsibility to yourself and your team to be ready to communicate your expectations. This can’t be done without preparation and a consistent plan. Being one of the first people to your business sets the pace for all other employees; then following up with enthusiasm and communicating a plan is infectious.

Challenge the people on the front lines to create positive, memorable experiences for your customers. We give a $20 “spiff” to any employee that can give the customer what we call a “Ritz-Carlton memorable experience.” A recent example: During a vehicle purchase, the salesperson found out that Walmart had discontinued carrying a specific meat product that the customer and her husband loved and was one of their favorite dinners. After the sale, we found this specific product and had it here for them when they took their new car. They said they will never forget what we did and how completely unexpected this unique gift was. The salesperson received the bonus in the sales meeting in front of their peers, and the customer wrote about what happened all over social media.

Stop everything when a team member needs you. For most businesses, your most valuable and important asset is your people. We can all get very busy, and interruptions in your day can be frustrating; however, when a team member needs you, shut everything else off and focus on the immediate needs of the team member.

Make your least-desired activity or call the first thing you do. Your team members are always watching you very closely as their leader. Your overall attitude and pace is vital to the success or failure of everybody’s day. Putting off a call or task that you are not looking forward to will always be on the back of your mind until you handle it. So, make it the first thing you do! Once it is done, your attitude and overall aura will be dramatically improved.

Grow talented people from within. Allow your most talented and loyal people to rise to the top of the organization. We committed to only promoting from within over eight years ago, and this has completely changed the culture of our business for the best. Entry-level workers see the opportunities available to them and strive to become better for an opportunity at advancement. Those who do not also tell a story about their ambitions to grow.

Invest in constant training and people development. Your people are your biggest asset, so make the investment in them to be exceptional. Every position in the organization should have a written process for the best success. Train constantly on what you expect from them, and they may surprise you and exceed your expectations.

Hire the unexpected/don’t judge a book by the cover. Ask them to talk to you about the bouncing ball of their life since they graduated high school and you will be shocked at how much you will learn about their lives. One recent example was a single mother with five children who she had basically raised on her own with never more than a $30,000 per year of income and absolutely no sales experience. During the interview, I saw an inner strength in her that caused me to offer her an opportunity in our sales department. Not only has this changed her life financially for her and her children; she has turned out to be one of my top producers. These types of stories are all over our dealerships.

Raise the bar on your industry. Through our information-based sales processes, our people are trained to supply the customer with all of the information they want during their visit, whether that be on the web, phone or in person. The biggest difference from our competition is we never ask the customer to commit to a purchase in order to get it. This no-pressure, open-book experience really backs up our “we make it easy” slogan. Between this and the search for an opportunity to give the customer a Ritz-Carlton memorable experience, we believe this sets us apart from the competition in town.

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