Impact GroupJ.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr. is chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International, Inc., one of the world’s largest lodging companies. The successor of the highly successful hotel chain is a brilliant leader who clearly understands what it is that makes them so successful. His leadership spans more than 50 years, and he has taken Marriott from a family restaurant business to a global lodging company with more than 3,700 properties in over 73 countries and territories.

Known throughout the industry for his hands-on management style, Mr. Marriott has built a highly regarded culture that emphasizes the importance of Marriott’s people and recognizes the value they bring to the organization. Today, approximately 300,000 people wearing Marriott International name badges are serving guests in Marriott managed and franchised properties throughout the world.

Marriott International is also well known as a great place to work and for its commitment to diversity, social responsibility and community engagement. It has consistently been named to Fortune Magazine’s lists of most admired companies and best places to work. Why? What makes Marriott such a great place to work and experience the mammoth success it earns and the respect of their guests? They have a plan.

I feel any dealership can receive (although not quite the scale) a similar success story and report card if only the dealership would operate utilizing Bill’s rules of success listed below.  If they did, all of a sudden the dealership just might find that it has become a better place for people to work and for people to purchase vehicles and consequently, begin growing their business to unexpected increases.

Bill Marriott’s 12 rules of success:

  1. Continually challenge your team to do better.
  2. Take good care of your employees, and they’ll take good care of your customers, and the customers will come back.
  3. Celebrate your people’s success, not your own.
  4. Know what you’re good at and mine those competencies for all you’re worth.
  5. Do it and do it now. Err on the side of taking action.
  6. Communicate. Listen to your customers, associates and competitors.
  7. See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk around and make yourself visible and accessible.
  8. Success is in the details.
  9. It’s more important to hire people with the right qualities than with specific experience.
  10.  Customer needs may vary, but their bias for quality never does.
  11.  Eliminate the cause of a mistake. Don’t just clean it up.
  12.  View every problem as an opportunity to grow.

These are such great line items, but they are just that, line items sitting on a page in latent form. To give them life we have to apply “action” towards making them happen. How do we do that? We have to have design and implement a plan. With certainty, I guarantee the Marriott Corporation had and has a continuing tactical and strategic plan to make sure these line items come to life in their properties.  Ask 50 dealers this question; “What does your three to five year marketing and business plan look like?” and see how many have one. Do you? Odds are very high that few have taken the time to fully initialize any plan at all and frankly we all know that is no way to run a business. Develop a professional plan and watch what happens. If you will take the time to dig down into a subject (like planning carefully enough), a few deeply useful truths will dredge up beneath the seemingly surface complexity of the task.

However, as Dave Anderson quotes: “A brilliant plan not followed by consistent action isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” I agree with Dave on this wholeheartedly.  It is like looking at a target through a rifle scope on a gun range with no rounds in the chamber. Looks good, dead on bullseye, but you will never hit the target unless you first load the rifle, take careful aim, and then apply action by pulling the trigger. Many are shooting with no rounds or even blanks (false starts) and never hit any target. Don’t be that person. Take charge now and develop a rock solid growth plan and shoot for excellence not average. Say goodbye to yesterday and hello to tomorrow with optimism and you will see the core concepts more clearly.

Remember, leaders have to be optimistic. Being less pessimistic is not synonymous with optimistic anymore than less rude is synonymous with courteous.

Wouldn’t you be interested in renovating new energy and business gains into your dealership to receive sustained organizational improvement? If so, then a terrific place to start is to begin next month to at least move in the direction of a strategic sales and marketing plan. Many of my clients have initiated better focus and positive growth results from taking the first step by using this exercise, I know you will too if you stop, take a breath and plan a couple of well thought out meetings with your management team. Mix all department managers together for this because in doing so, you will yield cross departmental boundary suggestions to allow everyone to step out of their departmental paradigms and hopefully discover a new way of running their department by hearing from others.

Below I have listed the first simple steps for getting control of your growth and developing leaders and managers to get you there. At your first meeting, explain to your team that you are venturing into the development of a sales/marketing plan to transform the dealership’s present condition into something better and you need everyone’s help to do so. Let them know, that ideas are the beginning of all great achievements and each manager is a contributing factor in the success of the plan. Later on, in subsequent questions we can adjust questions to fit any particular needs you may have.

Start out with the following easy stuff then ramp up to the meat, which will drive the processes and inspire your people. Here is the first three-question template to use whereby everyone in attendance gets a copy as his or her personal worksheet. Print copies to pass out at your first meeting. Ask them to take this with them and over the next few days apply some good thinking toward completing their answers, which will be returned in next week’s mangers’ meeting. In that next meeting, go around the room and have each manager read their responses to the group. Make room for comments after each reading. Encourage team engagement by asking them things like: “How do you feel about Roy’s answers?” or “Would you agree this makes sense?” or “What would you add to those comments?” Remember, getting this meeting started is like rocket thrust being most intense coming off the launching pad then much less energy is required to navigate in orbit. Once you get things rolling you will be amazed how easy the flow of information becomes. You most likely will derive some solid thinking and talking points when things get opened up in this meeting.

2012 Management Planning Workshop

  • Impact GroupCan the dealership be better?
    • How? What changes would have to occur?
  • Can my Department improve?
    • How?
  • Can I improve personally?
    • How?

Strive toward implementation of a total “Consensus Style Leadership” vs. Bureaucratic. Make sure your principles remain stronger than your ego. This approach will get people on board and engaged with the plan in order to draw out strong opinions and effectively funnel them into equally strong collective “buy-ins.” Ask them to be brutally honest without any repercussions because this is the only way you will hear what needs improved.

There you go. By following most of the aforementioned step one guidelines for a strategic plan, you will most certainly engage your management team into a new way of thinking. Moreover, you just might rouse some of those latent ideas stuck deep in the minds of your team. Communications is a wonderful thing and can launch you towards a more productive and growth oriented pathway for total dealership growth. Good fortunes can come your way by strengthening your team in this fashion.

If you are interested in taking this concept to the next level of planning, send me an e-mail requesting “The Plan” and I will send you the full template of questions for designing your own strategic marketing and sales plan. Of course, you do not have to accept my plan, but at least get one from somewhere; or else tomorrow will only be today, but a day later and nothing has changed. In theory, this seems complex but in practice, it often proves surprisingly simple and straightforward.