Think of all of the things you do every day to drive profits for your dealership. You come to work to sell cars, service cars, sell financing and F&I products, and make as much as possible on each transaction, all with customer satisfaction in mind to achieve retention, CSI scores, and positive social reviews.
You are very skilled at what you do, have a good deal of experience doing it, and are undoubtedly saddled with all manner of other daily responsibilities that make it difficult to find time for even a frequently interrupted lunch.
So why am I bothering you with something like company culture (an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together)? You have better things to worry about, right? What if I told you the answer to that question should be, emphatically, NO? What if I suggested that you stop everything you’re doing right now (even if you’re finally getting a small break to eat) to take a long, hard look at the culture of your organization? Would you think I was nuts? Out of touch? I would absolutely understand if you did—but hear me out.
I’ve worked in dealerships for 17 years as a sales person, finance manager, sales manager, BDC manager, and ultimately, as an executive-level director for a 26-store dealer group. In that time, I have learned (often the hard way) that culture is directly linked to dollars.
“Typically, companies with a strong culture tend to produce superior results as compared to those with weaker cultures. When a culture is strong, it leads to motivated employees and high performing managers,” states Peter Ashworth, CEO at BrightCoach, in his Linkedin Pulse article from November 10, 2015, Why Company Culture is So Important to Business Success. “Strong culture leads to ongoing involvement and participation by a company’s employees, and can predict current and future financial performance.”
Think of your dealership’s culture as a living, breathing organism that is always there, whether or not you are conscious of it, not just impacting, but dictating customer experience, efficiency, employee morale, and ultimately, profits and losses. Shouldn’t that be the very first area of the dealership we work on?
There are several areas of culture that are impacting your bottom line as we speak. For now, let’s just take a look at the foundation of your dealership culture: your core values. In a future post, we’ll explore the impact of accountability, communication, and employee satisfaction on your company culture as well.
Your Core Values
You have a values-driven culture, whether or not you have clearly defined those values for your dealership. If you have not clearly defined and communicated your company values, the values all employees are expected to uphold, it means the foundation of your culture is, inevitably, comprised of the varying values of other individuals within your organization.
In fact, without consistent demonstration and enforcement of your expressed values, your culture is being led by the person or persons in your dealership with the biggest personalities. It also means employee conduct is being driven by those individuals and makes consistent behavior nearly impossible to manage.
Your customers and employees will experience and likely notice this inconsistency, which could damage your brand and the overall satisfaction of your staff and customers.
When all members of an organization know and understand the company’s core values, they have a compass to guide them when making decisions, interacting with customers and co-workers, creating leadership priorities, and establishing career goals. When leaders demonstrate the values-based behavior you expect, you will find that employees will begin to emulate that behavior as well.
This new consistency will give you a powerful tool for attracting and evaluating potential candidates to join your staff and an even more powerful tool for deciding what behaviors you will tolerate from your current staff. What’s more, you will now have a brand statement that you can share with your current and prospective customers.