Leading Change in a Challenging Market – Part One
What Needs to Change?
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
The onslaught of negative news regarding the current automotive marketplace can be discouraging for even the most positive leader. Action-oriented leaders view a challenging market as an opportunity to re-evaluate spending and improve processes. Others make the mistake of avoiding needed change in order to avoid discomfort. What kind of leader are you?
The first step toward creating an environment for change is to accept that resistance is a natural response. Most of us need to experience pain to be motivated to change. As a leader, you will either create chaos or build confidence with your attitude and approach to embracing change. Since change happens from the top down, let’s explore strategies to improve your chances for success.
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How Do You Lead?
Imagine you’re a pilot flying a commercial jet. Soon after takeoff, a warning light appears, indicating a problem with one of your engines. After careful evaluation, you decide to turn around and go back to the gate. Knowing your decision will cause temporary chaos with missed connections and frustrated passengers and crew, you make the announcement. Upon returning to the gate you exhale; it’s going to be a long day.
It is doubtful anyone would want to board a plane where a pilot’s leadership decisions could be swayed by anxiety and frustration. If the warning light is on at your dealership, it’s time to act. Take a closer look at the profit centers of your dealership and look for opportunities for improvement. We’ll cover key areas to evaluate to uncover needed changes in the next post, but for now let’s focus on the leader’s role in successful change.
Leaders Set the Pace
Are you a leader who makes decisions quickly, welcoming improvements without looking back? Or do you carefully consider every decision, struggling to set deadlines for moving ahead? For every dealership owner or GM with one set of traits, there are employees who are the opposite. There will be individuals on your team who will immediately embrace change and see value in trying something new. Others will need time or more information to get on board. Early adopters often struggle to stay with change, once initiated. Others will be slow to process change, but will become your champions once they are fully up to speed. Successful change begins with a leader who is self-aware. Take a moment to consider your approach to change. Determine in advance to adjust your approach, if needed, to lead more effectively.
People, Process and Profits
The three most important pillars of any successful business are people, profits and process. Once you’ve made the decision to implement something new, your ability to create a positive environment for that change will vary based on many factors. Communication is mission critical. Share your plan and the insights leading you to it. Clearly state your goals for change (your why) and what you believe will be the result, before you introduce new strategy (the how). Putting the why first will bring you together as a team and clarify the way forward.
Offer opportunities for your team to ask questions and offer feedback once you’ve communicated the way forward. Engage fully, resisting the urge to listen with a ready response. You may want to have one-on-one discussions with key players. Ask them for their support and if they see any potential problems you haven’t covered. The most effective leaders listen; not only to get new information, but to give your team an opportunity to be heard. Changes to process and workflow create stress. Giving your team an opportunity to ask questions, process and express concerns will smooth rough places moving forward.
Discovery, Change and Progress
At DealerCue, we believe in this approach so much, it is our first conversation with dealers considering a partnership with us. Our goal from the first contact is to learn as much as we can about your dealership, what you believe is working well, and what you hope to change. Understanding the catalyst for change, and specific challenges you’ve identified allows us to create strategy and set goals to help you and your team stay motivated. Our experience with dealerships of all sizes allows us to anticipate challenges. We try to minimize the temporary discomfort of change by delivering results you can see right away, and making it fun!
Next week our Co-Founder and COO Adam Tobias will share ideas for discovering your competitive advantage, strategies for avoiding costly buying mistakes at auction, and staying profitable in a challenging market. In the meantime, if you haven’t taken 15 minutes to view your current inventory in the VinCue dashboard, we’d like to invite you to schedule a demo today. Whether you choose to partner with us or not, we promise to show you something to help you improve your dealership.