Monthly Archives: June 2012

Grasshopper Pie

A traveling salesman had come to the end of a long day and was very hungry. He had not made many sales and was feeling a little frustrated with his results. He decided to stop and get something to eat and mull over his next step.

He stopped in town, parked on Main Street and looked around. He found two restaurants side by side.  Above each there was a sign.

The one on the left said “Food, more expensive but worth it” and the one on the right said “Food, average, cheap and will fill you up.” The man stood for a moment and looked at both signs. He weighed his choices and after deliberating for a few minutes, chose the restaurant on the right.

He stepped in and was greeted by the maitre’d who showed him to the only table in the place. It was in the center of the restaurant and was circled by chairs with people sitting and sipping cool drinks with umbrellas and limes.

He thought it was rather odd and asked the maitre’d who all the people were sitting and sipping. The maitre’d replied “Oh, don’t worry about them. They are just here to see the show.”

The man asked “What show?”

The maître’d replied “The show that starts in a few minutes. What can I get you to drink?”

The man placed his drink order and waited somewhat nervously as he wondered what sort of restaurant he had wandered into. The waiter returned a few minutes later and placed the drink on the table and said “Hello, I’m your waiter this evening. Let me describe our special for you.”

The man thought to himself “Well, at least this is normal. Thank goodness.”

The waiter said “For our special this evening the chef has prepared an average dish using locally available average ingredients and prepared it using only average tasting sauces and wrapped it up in dough made only with average flour and served on a plate with average bread.”

The man thought to himself “Well, that does not sound too bad” and said to the waiter “I’ll have it.”

The waiter replied “Very good sir” and walked away. The man noticed that suddenly all of the people in the restaurant had moved a little closer to his one and only table. This seemed a little odd to him and made a mental note to ask the waiter when he came back with his food.

In a few minutes the waiter returned carrying a large tray with a steaming pie in the middle of it. He proceeded to set it down on the table. The man looked at the pie and said “Hmm, this looks good, what is it called”

The waiter replied “Grasshopper Pie.”

The man said “What? Grasshopper Pie? I’ve never heard of it! What’s in it?”

The waiter replied “Locally available average ingredients mixed with an average sauce and wrapped in average dough.”

The man thought about it for a second and said “Ok, I’ll try it” and with that took his fork and started to eat. As he took the first mouthful, he noticed that the other people sitting in the restaurant were quiet and watching him with renewed interest. And they had stopped sipping their limed up umbrella drinks.

The man chewed for just a second or two and then jumped up while spitting out the bite he had just taken and started wiping his mouth furiously with his napkin as if it were on fire. He then grabbed his drink and took a long gulp trying to wash the taste out of his mouth.

He yelled for the waiter.

The waiter returned and the man said “What is this?” pointing at the dish in front of him.

“What you ordered sir” the waiter replied. The man then pointed again and gestured with his fork “That is not what I asked you. What is in this pie?”

The waiter replied “Locally available average ingredients mixed with an average sauce and wrapped with average dough. Why, is there something wrong with it?”

The man replied somewhat angrily “Yes! It tastes terrible!” Immediately all of the other people sitting in the restaurant started passing money back and forth amongst themselves.

The man now really angry said “And who are all of these people passing money around?”

The waiter replied “Well sir, these are the people here for the show I told you about and they have been betting on whether or not you would eat your dish. I must say sir; there are a lot of them whom you have made very happy, including me. We all bet that you would not eat more than a bite of the pie.”

The waiter gestured to one particular group of people “Those people over there in that small group, they bet that you would eat more than one bite. Only those two people (pointing across the room) bet that you would eat the whole pie. They always bet on the longshot. Will there be anything else?”

The man was really angry by now and said “This is outrageous. All I wanted was something to eat at a cheap price. And now look at me. I am still hungry, the center of a show and I’m really angry! That dish was terrible!”

The waiter replied “What did you expect sir. You ordered Grasshopper Pie.”

The moral of the story…when you are hungry for change it’s better to pay more for what you really want rather than try to make a terrible choice into an average result. Remember that many people who know you will gladly watch and bet on the outcome with no other interest than their own self amusement and lastly, Grasshopper Pie is really what it sounds like and it does taste terrible. You get what you pay for.

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What 3 Components Do You Need To Succeed In The Car Biz? ASK And You Shall Receive!

Communication Skills Lab

Communication Skills Lab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s right! There are  3 Components you need to Succeed in the Car Biz!

ATTITUDE, SKILL SET and KNOWLEDGE!

A strong Attitude will get you through the day even though you may feel like giving up. Attitude smooths out the ups and downs of a not so normal day and enhances a great day! With a great Attitude you can complete all of your tasks in a friendly and helpful manner.  The benefit to you…HAPPY CUSTOMERS! Your Attitude makes their day better!

Don’t believe me? Just walk around all day with a frown, growl and use one word answers and exhibit aggressive or apathetic body language and facial expressions and see if you don’t have a meeting with your Manager at the end of the day…if they are paying attention.

Better yet, have a meeting with Grandma Jones and the Manager because you had a case of retinal crapitus. That sounds like a great way to end the day, wouldn’t you agree?

Attitude can be fickle without proper maintenance. It requires adjustment from time to time much as a car requires a tune up and oil change. It needs to be fed  good material just like a good meal nourishes the body. Reading and listening to positive examples is the way to do it. Anyone can build a good Attitude with the proper material.

Start with the classics like Earl Nightengale, Drucker, and the like. Then you can plug in the more recent authors like Covey, Gitomer, Rackham, Ziglar, Cardone, Anderson. The point is to start reading and feeding your new Attitude!

The second item you possess free and clear is your SKILL SET!

These days an effective Skill Set will include assertive communication skills, dynamic listening skills, anger management skills, organization skills and creative thinking skills. All of these are necessary to complete everyday tasks in the modern Service Department and compete with the competition.

You can start developing your Skill Set the same way you develop your Attitude, by reading and listening. Practically every vehicle made today has a cd player or mp3 connection. Turn your vehicle into a rolling university. It’s the best quiet time we have during the day normally!

You can purchase cd sets on all of the above mentioned topics and a lot more at several websites or your local book store.

Start with an area you feel you need a little help in. You will gain a whole new view and way of looking at things just by gaining the confidence in your new skill or refreshing an old one. Keep working your way through communication and listening skills. Soon, you’ll have the confidence and skill level you need to Excel in the Service Drive!

Lastly, you’ll need to increase your Knowledge!

In the car business, this would seem to be an easy thing to do. Every year the new models come out and the factory starts pumping up the Sales Department with tons of material on models, warranty, etc. Hey, Mr. and Ms. Service Advisor, if the Knowledge is good for Sales it must be good for you too!

There are other ways. Take a class, sign up for an online Training Program, get a   new Process for write-ups…start increasing your Knowledge!

And, Oh, by the way, you can try and “do it all at once” or just do it the same way you learned everything so far…a little at a time. Just be consistent.

These 3 Key Components of Success will set you up to make more, do more and be more in your day. Start with your ASK and pretty soon you will be on the Receiving end of everything you want.

Make Your Next Coaching Session Memorable and Powerful

Every Coaching session can be effective if you follow certain steps to improve your chances of a Successful outcome.Be Specific and Get Results!

There is one word that is critical in determining the outcomes. That word is “Specific.” There is an old saying that goes like this. “The more specific you are the better your results” and it applies to everything.

Want to improve your Communications? Be Specific.

Want to have greater Results in everything you do? Be Specific.

Want to achieve more Goals and be more Productive? Be Specific.

When conducting Coaching sessions, the same rule applies.  Here are three tips you can use to make your Coaching sessions memorable and powerful.

1st, Be Specific. Which means you Mr./Ms. Coach need to be an excellent observer and note taker long before a Coaching session begins. You will want to write down Specific Actions and Behaviors you observe the person you are Coaching so that you can describe them accurately in your Coaching session.

Coaching sessions that do not start out with Specific Actions and Behaviors soon turn into cry fests, pity parties and he said/she said “No I did not” unproductive meetings that do nothing to encourage or correct Actions and Behaviors.

2nd, you will need to have a Specific Goal for the Coaching session’s outcome. If you want Sally Service Advisor to improve her phone answering skills and increase the number of appointments she makes on a daily basis, then that is the basis for a Coaching session Goal. You will need to fill in the Specifics to complete the picture.

And lastly, no Coaching session is complete without a firm follow-up date to go over results and progress. If you fail to follow-up the message you send to the person you are Coaching is “Coaching sessions are not that important.” Everybody likes to feel that the Coach is interested in their progress and they want to tell you of their accomplishments. Set a firm date to let that happen.

Coaching sessions can be powerful tools to increase performance and build team synergy. Be Specific, Be Specific, Be Specific.

7 Ways To Tell If You Are Practicing Management Malpractice

  1. You cannot name your employees and refer to everyone as “Buddy” or “Chief.”
  2. You don’t know what the company’s goals are for the year and you cannot tell anyone what your goals are.
  3. Every time an employee comes to your door and knocks, you think they will ask for a raise or time off.
  4. You cannot name the last book you read that pertained to your profession.
  5. Whenever there is a crisis or a hot situation to handle, everyone assumes someone will get fired.
  6. Every time you go on vacation, you assume that you will be replaced.
  7. All of your conversations with the Dealer Principal start with “We’ve had a meeting and everyone is now onboard with the company mission” or something like that.

If you are practicing Management Malpractice  in your Dealership  here are the Action Steps you need to take.

  1. Know by name everyone in your Dealership. Know their spouses names, grandchildren, dogs, cats and even the goldfishes name. If you know them that well it means that you care. A lot! And they will respect you for it. Find out about their Goals. It will help you Coach them to better Performance.
  2. If you have not made a list of goals for yourself, you can bet that everyone in your department has not done it either. Which means what you ask? It means not one person has a stake in what is going on with you, the company or themselves. And people without Goals and a track to follow, are more difficult to lead.  Make a goal, just one, and ask all of your employees to do the same, and then start working on it, together!
  3. If you are only talking to your employees about raises and time off, what is going on in your Dealership that you are not aware of? Everything else! This means you need to get involved in Everything Else! Start with one on one interviews, say 15-20 minutes, ask for real feedback! Instead of starting out with “We need to talk, do you have a minute?” try something like “Can you tell me a little of what you think we could do around here?” or (if you really want it straight) “I have not been a very good listener and have missed some key issues lately. Could you please take a minute and identify what you feel is the top 5 most important issues you feel we need to handle in the weeks ahead?” Lastly, become a MBWA practioner, Management By Walking Around. Get in the habit walking around and talking to your personnel everyday. You might be surprised at what you’ve been missing.
  4. Read More! About what you do! And then encourage others to read more about what they do. Just because you work someplace and have been there for 20 years, doesn’t mean you know everything about your Profession. Every successful businessman, athlete, actor, you name it, has a Reading List. And they Read! Read! Read! So, make a commitment to read just 20 minutes a day and get ahead of the power curve.
  5. If the answer to every crisis in your Dealership is to fire someone as a result of that situation, that is Management Malpractice. You had better first look at your Goals and Training Program to get a handle on this one, because if that is your “go to” response, it’s wrong! Plain and Simple. Most people will work because they need a job, and don’t want to have to find another one. However, if your fix is to continually replace rather than “diagnose and repair”, you are not Managing and Leading properly. Start with your Mission Statement, and make sure it’s clear and defined, then review your Goal statement and then your Training plan. Make sure you are not expediting their removal for your lack of Management and Leadership.
  6. If you are not sure whether or not you’ll have a job when you get back, you don’t have one anyways. You are just taking up space. Get proactive, face the music and determine if you are in the wrong place, wrong company, wrong profession or wrong frame of mind. Then fix it. Write down what you need to do, and get it done.
  7. If you are always apologizing first, (which is what that statement really is, the beginning of an apology), you are not Managing and Leading. You have become through complacency and osmosis a “Window Watcher.” Get on the stick; people want to be lead, not told. Lead them by being out and up front and the Expectation of Success will become the Reality of Accomplishment.

Management Malpractice is curable as long as you know what to look for and take Action to correct it.

The difference is paper-thin

“The difference between genius and insanity is paper-thin.” Old Japanese proverb.

There is an inherent truth in that statement. How many times have you said to yourself “That’s crazy!” about something someone did only to find out later that it wasn’t really crazy at all and in fact was genius.

Those Dealerships that are Profitable in their Fixed Ops are not that different from those Dealers that are not Profitable. It’s paper thin actually.

There are hundreds of things you can do but there are 3 that will make an impact almost immediately. 

First, get committed to making a change. The Dealerships that are Profitable in Fixed Ops decided that what they were doing was not working. They looked at the results they were achieving and realized it did not meet their expectations.

That is a crucial first Action Step. Make a Commitment to Making a Change. Nothing will happen and nothing will change without this first step.

Second, they got Training. Yes, I am employed by a Fixed Ops Training company. Yes, I come from a background that includes providing Seminars and Training to companies all across the country. Yes, I am biased.  But I’m not wrong.

You can’t argue with results. Every Successful Organization on the Planet we live on has a Training Program. You are a product of Training. Whether it’s a formal education or school of hard knocks, you have been Trained. Your Success to this point can be traced to the Training you received along the way.

Fixed Operation Department Personnel that have been Trained will outperform and out sell an untrained Department every time, no exceptions.

Third, they monitor for results and Coach on performance daily.  And you know what? The employees in that Dealership expect it. They want to know how they are doing. They want the feedback.

The difference between Profitability and Profit Loss is paper-thin. Start by doing these 3 Action Steps and get results.