Dealerships who are motivated to implement new concept ideas and go to expanded spaces of achievement always amaze me. And then there are the stores that make change a toxic event. What is the difference? Some dealerships have a plan, get buy-in and truly mean what they say. Then there are the “ready, shoot, aim” approach stores. These stores incidentally continue to struggle year after year and experience sales attrition rates hovering around 70 percent.

Impact GroupHere are a few of the critical elements to launch a new successful flight path for you and your dealership. Some will do it and some will not. At the end of the day it all comes down to stores that are willing to do something extra and those that are not. Therein lies the difference in an extraordinary store and a common ordinary store. Ordinary is everywhere. Extraordinary is just that. They do something extra all the time to encourage and manifest a better all-round environment for their people and as a consequence, their customers. Want to make a difference? Then it will involve an investment in training, time and stretching your world, as you know it. The good news is it can be done and it is not going to cause you to lose legs or arms in the process. Over the last couple of years, we have identified a few of the critical elements that must be present in your CRM foundation to ensure a practical and sound approach to a successful implementation.

A True Customer-Focused Approach

Everything you and your team touches needs to be accomplished with the customer in mind. If you believe CRM is just about the customer, you are mistaken. CRM is a full out effort to employ relationship strategies in every corner of the store. When this happens, the customer knows it and is the major benefactor of your efforts. Yet having said that, the entire dealership is enhanced and everyone working there is better from the experience.

My top 10 solid essential areas for the new year that everyone needs to understand, be trained in, have proper dialog for, and most important, possess the processes like a road map to follow are:

  1. Incoming telephone prospect inquiries
  2. Follow-up strategies
  3. Owner base retention and renewed referral strategies
  4. Orphan owner processes,
  5. Service customers
  6. New Relationship training for your team including management, sales and service
  7. 21st century business development and CRM practices
  8. Owner loyalty efforts
  9. Internet department strategies to employ customer-focused foundation
  10. Employee retention and appreciation

OK, that is quite a list. In my opinion, there are other things but the aforementioned are the required active ingredients to bake the perfect self-rising ever-growing dealership. The ROI you will receive will most definitely evoke enhanced employees, revenues and customer relations. You can, of course, choose it or lose it.

The “pre-flight” checklist has to posses the following initiatives in order to gain proper altitude for sustained flight into the new levels of achievement:

Inter-Relationship Development

An all-inclusive dealership campaign must be adhered to. The entire management team must work together as a single team committed to accepting and selling the positive new processes to come.  The team must instill a positive atmosphere of “great things are coming to help us grow the business” and “wait until you see the new and exciting tools coming to help you become your personal best and increase your income.”

Planning for solid cultural and process change

Yes, it will most definitely require a change of latitudes and attitudes. If you want to improve, you must change something you do daily, weekly and monthly. New enhanced sound business processes will take you there. Break out of those old paradigms and accept new and improved ways to do business in your store and you will be glad you did. Be better than you are by continuing to improve something all the time. The wise changes we make today will make a better tomorrow. Starting is the great inhibitor to your pathway for  success. So, start now to develop the cultural and process changes that are needed.

Disciplined Decision-Making

Here today, gone tomorrow decision-making will guarantee failure. Decision-making with consistency and discipline will point you toward a successful business growth venture. You and your management team must adopt certain new processes in your store and then stick to them. Sure, we must be flexible to accommodate change for the better when we identify improvements to our processes, but not to retreat on our process adoption principles. Remember, we do not change a process because no one wants to do it. We change a process only to make improvements in the way we are now conducting our business. It must be fruitful. Make good decisions and be consistent in doing so because you are making a new way of life in your store forever. Do it right and do it methodically.


This one is the most important of these core principles; you must have this in place if you want to succeed. This single strength will allow your store to succeed, or if it is not present, fail in your CRM endeavor.  We could spend months on the subject of leadership as it applies to building a strong CRM discipline. It comes down to this: if you have it or develop it you will be able to withstand a sustained growth path to overcome the adversities, which will arise along the journey. If you don’t, I wish you well.

Because management leadership is the cornerstone for our CRM success, and the associated rich growth elements we will derive from it if we have it in place, you simply have to have it! Choose it or lose it. Leaders can’t help but change the present, because the present isn’t good enough. They succeed only when they find a way to make people excited by and confident in what comes next. This includes new processes and new store cultural changes, which are going to occur in order for us to maximize CRM utilization. It also requires for these leaders to be well taught in what this stuff is all about. Don’t assume they know. Get them trained well at what they need to be doing and the ROI will be immeasurable.

This can and will be a great year for you and the entire team if you are willing to employ a little extra effort and creativity. Make it happen and you will be happy you did.

Impact GroupChuck Barker’s experience ranges from an executive with a Fortune 200 computer corporation to the automobile business. He has held positions as business development manager, sales manager, acting GM, ADP executive regional manager specializing in CRM and his own current company, Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC, located in Virginia. His firm delivers CRM process strategies, 21st century CRM sales training, CRM e-business deployment and  CRM management leadership workshops. More information can be located at his web site: