The banana guy…

I love stories about people who come to the car business from places and jobs so diverse you would never think they could succeed. Inspiring, motivating and in many ways humbling these life stories are part of the human experience that makes be proud. Here is just such a story:

James Koluboi works at Liberty Toyota in Burlington, New Jersey and is one of their top producers month to month and year to year. However, as impressive as his numbers are (both unit totals and gross) what sets James apart is how sincerely friendly and engaging he is with ANYONE who walks into the dealership. Always smiling, friendly and engaging. The first time I met James he made it feel as though we already knew each other and that he was genuinely glad to see me…even though I was not there to purchase a vehicle.

James is a very interesting person. He is from Uganda. He has a degree in Accounting. However, prior to coming to the US and learning to sell automobiles, James sold bananas in front the US embassy. Day in and day out…in the heat of the sweltering summers and foul weather of the winters…James sold bananas to the business people and politicians coming in and out of the Embassy. Always happy and polite…James sold bananas.

One of James’ dreams was to bring his family to the US and live “the dream”. However, how would he ever come from there to here with nothing? Well, James saved a little here and there from his banana sales and kept dreaming. And one day his break came. While speaking to one of his customers he happened to mention that his dream was to live in the USA. As good preparation, hard work and fortune would have it…the man James was speaking to was the US Ambassador. He had always noticed James selling his bananas every day, regardless of the weather and took special notice that James was always happy and always friendly to everyone. That day the US Ambassador helped to make one man and his family, very, very happy. He told James that he could grant him a Visa to come to the US, and would do so because he believed James would be a good citizen and would work hard to make himself a success.

James speaks with a very heavy scent and often is difficult to understand. However, I have visited and spoken with James at length and his accent is actually very endearing and in fact causes one to listen harder to what he is saying. I watched James work with several customers over the course of the week long placement and training project I was working on and what really stood out was that it seemed his customers smiled a lot. And I mean smiled almost constantly. They were actually enjoying the process of their car buying experience. And while this dealership culture is very positive and has very high customer service ratings…there is just something special going on at James’ desk. And by-the-way…his business consist of nearly 85% referrals. He takes no ups and no incoming phone calls. He does not need to….he is busy with referral s, introductions and other new business he is developing all the time.

There are many other philosophies that James lives by; absolute integrity, personalized service and a work ethic that has him arrive at the dealership with a smile on his face at 7:30 a.m. to work with any customers who may be in the service department. James does his job every day, works hard, focuses on his customers and succeeds. Then he goes home to his beautiful family. James is living the dream.

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When business is good…standards fall

A very interesting dynamic occurs when business is good…standards of performance actually fall and many managers back away from managing performance. They just let people do what they do and try to keep up with penciling deals and managing inventory. After all…sales and profits are good. However, when business is not good, then everyone starts to look at ways to improve standards because at that point every deal matters. However then it is too late. Traffic has fallen off and the challenge turns to getting customers into the dealership.

What are your standards for optimizing each and every customer opportunity? How do you ideally want a customer greeted? What are your steps to the sale? How do you want customers to see your dealership and the people who represent your dealership? What is the experience you envision every customer to have when they walk through the front door of your dealership? Are your standards being upheld and even exceeded? Or are you allowing people to do what they do, because you are too busy to change it? A tough question and one I hope does not offend anyone reading this.

I hear It often: “we are too busy to engage training and improvement…everything is good. We do training when we are not so busy”. The fact your showroom is busy more than likely has very little to do with how well your sales staff is doing, because more than likely the customers are coming in because of an advertising campaign you are running, or your BDC is doing a great job of getting customers to come in, or your manufacturer is running a great incentive.

Shouldn’t your sales staff be the most dialed in when business is good? More customers simply means more opportunities to succeed, or fail at selling a vehicle and developing a successful and long-term relationship with a client.

Right now with traffic good, interest rates good, incentives good and buyers buying…make sure you have the right people, doing the right things and consistently presenting themselves, your products and your dealership in the absolute best light. It will make a difference in sales revenues today and in the future.

Expecting your sales and service staff to perform at their absolute best does not just happen because it is important. It takes commitment, planning, training, practice, coaching and management. And that all takes time.

If you have the resources to raise the bar on performance now when it really matters…do it now. If you are lacking resources, or time call us. We can provide you with the resources to optimize the performance of your people and work with your sales staff and sales managers to make sure every customer opportunity is optimized and every sale that can be made, is made.

Joseph Rosales
The Sales and Service Coach
609-760-9066

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People – Process – Performance

It goes without saying that if a business is going to maximize sales revenues they would need to focus on three key areas of business…the people, the processes and performance. I call these three areas of focus…essentials.

Having the right people with the right skills and talents is essential. And the right skills and talents are more than just experience…they are essentials such as excellent communications skills, a likeable disposition, a positive perspective and generally the kind of person who sees sales as a profession…not a job they don’t like going to.

The processes those great people are using can make or break the even the best sales person and cause them to fail (or succeed less) at attracting or selling/presenting to and retaining a customer. Whether it is steps in your sales process (road to the sale), or when and how customer follow-up is done, or something else related to your sales and client development process…process is important and the right people bring life to those processes and produce outstanding results.

The third essential is performance. Whether it is business or athletics…performance is essential to winning on the field, or in a sales situation. Good people, with good processes also have to perform at a high level to achieve high results. Execution of any process or plan is essential to success. Imagine a sports team with a bunch of nice/good/motivated people and a poor game strategy (process). They would not succeed as often. Imagine good people with good process and solid consistent performance results. A winning combination of essentials for sure.

So…look around today. Do you know, or even sense that an improvement of people, process, or performance in your business would improve sales revenues, or service in your business. If you think yes…reach out to me. I would be honored to hear from you.

About the author: Joseph Rosales is the founder and principle of the Sales and Service Group. The company works with automotive dealerships and dealer groups to increase sales revenues and optimizing service engagement. The Sales and Service Group is located in Medford, New Jersey and works with dealers throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

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How good is your dealership…really?

Statistics show that many businesses, including many automotive dealerships are functioning at 50-60% of their potential. And while some reading this may be producing at a higher level, or may not think that is a fair number with regards to their dealership, I would ask…how good is your dealership really?

You see, it is pretty easy to measure what you did achieve. It is however; much more difficult to measure what you did not achieve…what you are missing. Are you better than you were last year? Are you better than your competition? Are you better than your projections? What criteria are you using to assess how good you really are in any area of your business?

In the wonderfully simple, but complex game of golf there is a handicapping system. You can measure yourself against other golfers playing the same course and know at the end of your round how you did relative to the course ratings and other golfers.

In the automotive business there is no handicapping system, however; there are indicators that may give you an idea about how you are doing relative to other dealerships within your own brand. You can even read reports that are published about how your competition did this month. Certainly good information.

Mystery shopping and telephone audits can be helpful, however; they are most often a bit superficial and provides one with a false sense of achievement. Service and sales awards can also be misleading as they reward you for accomplishing certain standards in your business, however; never really tell you what you were capable of achieving.

So today…ask yourself this question: Do you have a sense your dealership could be better in some area of performance? If the answer is yes, you have an opportunity to improve.

Joseph Rosales
The Sales and Service Group.
Medford New Jersey
609-760-9066 – cell

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It’s Showtime!!!

In the world of athletic and other performance endeavors when the opening horn sounds, or the preverbal curtain goes up…It’s Showtime. Time to focus on the job at hand….helping a customer to be a customer in your dealership. Whether they are buying a vehicle, getting their vehicle serviced, or stopping in for any reason…they deserve the very best you and your employees have to offer.

During visits to dealerships I am always surprised when someone in sales, or service engages a client with seomthing less than their very best effort. Whether it is an initial meet and greet, presenting the features and benefits of a vehicle to a prospective customer, or something as simple as answering the telephone…it should always be our best effort. Engaged, friendly, enthusiastic…planned and practiced.

Some days it’s harder to do than others. A typical work day can be full of tasks, challenges and a myriad of unexpected interruptions, however; when the doors to your dealership open…it’s Showtime! Everyone and everything you can control should be prepared and focused on the most important person in the building…the customer. Whether you call your customers, clients, guest, or some other “retail friendly” tag…the customer is the only person in the building that makes a conscious choice to come to your business and exchange their time and hard-earned money for the products and services your dealership offers.

Are your processes optimized, or is it just how your people have been doing it for years? Every step of your process, from the meet and greet, to the walk around and test drive, to the steps in the negotiations, final delivery and follow-up needs to be planned, practiced and as close to perfect (optimized) as possible. This level of performance and engagement will not just happen…it happens on purpose.

Be absolutely sure that everyone who comes in contact with customers is focused on performing their very best on every customer contact (engagement). Ok, or good enough is not good enough when it comes to winning a customers business and active loyalty.

Make it Showtime! Your customers will appreciate the show, your employees will enjoy the work more and increasing numbers of customers will buy and service their vehicles from your dealership. And after all…that is the point of this business…sell and service vehicles to paying customers.

Joseph Rosales
609-760-9066 – cell

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The what and the HOW of your 2015 goals

Every year around this time we start to get calls from clients who to realize the targets and related goals they set in place for 2015 are missing one essential element…the HOW they are going to accomplish their goals and projections.

Simply saying you want to increase sales by 15-20% in 2015 is a very specific goal and is quantified and even has a established time element.  However as essential as those 2 goal setting elements are they do nothing to help actually accomplish the goal.  The HOW you will increase sales is a main point of the focus after setting that goal.

The same holds true for increasing CSI (Customer Service Index) or for increasing the number of referrals you receive on an monthly basis (or for that matter virtually any improvement you want to make in your business) and it requires that you focus on improving the ACTIVITIES that actually lead to improving results.

For example; if you want to increase the number of referrals you receive each month  by 20% this goal setting process obviously requires that you know the current metrics and projected improvement target.  However…the HOW you are going to increase the number of referrals you receive is what is going to lead to accomplishment.

Is your current method of engaging the topic of referrals with your clients working for you?  Out of 15 sales per month, how many active referrals do you receive?  When do you ask for referrals?   How do you ask?  How do you follow-up on the telephone and with email.  What do you say on the telephone when you “fish” for referrals.  How are you tracking referrals?  How do you communicate about referrals with your clients.  How big is your referral network?  How often do you tap into your network?

HOW…HOW…HOW…are you doing this and other business development “processes” and are they working?  Are you accomplishing the goals?

Think about it.  WHAT you are going to improve in 2015 and HOW are you going to improve at?  It’s a foundational question and often not addressed.

Let me know if you would like to chat about this and other improvements in your business…it’s what I do.

Joseph Rosales – founder
The Sales and Service Group
609-760-9066 – cell

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Performance matters…

In the world of selling and service…performance matters.  How long someone has been doing something is not what influences results.  What someone does with what they know is what causes positive results.

Take the golfer who has been playing for 20 years.  How long he has been playing is not an indication of how good he is.   He could be very experienced at doing things in an acceptable and mediocre manner.  Thus, length of experience is not an indication of performance levels.

Objectively assessing performance is the first step in any improvement initiative and should be carefully considered before taking on any new training initiatives in your business.  Training for the sake of training without addressing and managing the foundational performance issues will not attain the best results.  Even the best processes will fail to accomplish the desired results if the performance of the process is not excellent.

Said more succinctly…”knowing what to do is only part of the performance equation…one has to do what they know to do with excellence”.

Invest some time being objective about the performance of your sales and service teams in your dealership.  If they are optimized and maximized…congratulations.  If you find performance could be improved…get to work on it.  Performance matters!

Joseph Rosales – founder
The Sales and Service Group

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Distractions

Testing

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A failure to communicate…

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Protect yourself from germs…

If you are a business professional you no doubt are meeting with
clients and business associates who may be sick and not even know it and you
are having hand to surface contact with germs.

Offices, shared cubicles, conference rooms, restaurants and networking meetings are just a few places people gather to do business and share their to
mention a few.  You can’t hide from germs, or void “germy” places but you can certainly minimize the port of entry for the germs entering your body.

Just imagine you shake hands with 10-15 people today and some of them have come in contact with a germ laden surface with their hand and then transfer it to your hand and then you rub your eye… and well there is now a high possibility germs will enter your body.

I am not a doctor, but it is well known that that the germs
that carry colds and flu enter your body through two primary areas…your nose
and your eyes.  Minimize touching those areas
with germs and one could avoid many days of illness over a life time.  Try

Shaking hands – Shake
right/Touch left – we always shake hands with our right hands and often pick up pens, phones and whatever with our right hands. 
So never touch your face with your right hand when you are in public settings.

Opening Doors –
use your sleeve end, or coat sleeve cuff to cover your hand when you twist a door knob, or if it is a long handle grab it near the bottom where fewer people
touch it. Or try using your back to push a door open.

Elevator Buttons –
use your knuckle from a finger on your right hand to press the button.  Do not use your fingertips to press the
button.

Escalators – do
not hold the handrail with your hand. 
Steady yourself by leaning against the handrail, or placing your forearm
on the handrail.

Tables in restaurants – don’t let your hands wander to areas of a table that does not get cleaned as
well as the table top.  Think before you
 touch.

Stay Sharp…Stay Healthy

Joseph

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