The Paradox of Progress


The Farther You Get, the Farther You Have to Go.

In taking a detour this month I want to share with you something I have been observing in some dealerships which frankly are holding back business achievement. This article will be a living testament as to why it is so

important to establish certain things first. Just this past month, I spoke with several dealerships regarding their latent and unfulfilled attempts to establish a solid CRM strategy and see business growth.  Actually, it astonishes me to see what some stores think the answer is and what is involved in establishing a disciplined  solution.

Go slow, yet be deliberate with your quest to identify processes and training needs, locate solutions, purchase elements, implement them and finally, put in play developing your store’s growth potential.   Just like writing a book; one word at a time (or step) is the best method. Of course, before all this occurs you remember we do have to develop certain processes for every nook and cranny of CRM and then maintain a vengeance in adhering to those principle processes.

Let’s take store number one for now; Wow, newly upgraded CRM software tool. They just went out and purchased everything they possibly could which looks, smells and tastes like it has anything to do with how “I define” technology and CRM. I mean this store was ‘wired up’ with every gadget, software, camera, monitor, wireless headset and computer you could wildly imagine. Initially, I felt like I was in Best Buy but then migrated quickly over to  more like CIA headquarters as they began boosting about and showing off the sundry of ‘stuff’ they had acquired to really take this initiative towards a successful solution. With pride, the Dealer sat back as he rattled off technical narrative descriptions of all the ’stuff’ which he espoused would deliver his store to the promised land of eternal enhanced business. Well, gotta tell ya, he won’t see that promised land for a while due to the fact that he sinned on his conquest towards it. How do I know this?  Upon the conclusion of his orchestrated, well rehearsed symphony of harmonic technical descriptions of the specific products and ‘what it can do,’ I asked a few questions.

Well, Mr. Dealer, (We were not yet on a first name basis, yet)….

To what degree have the new products rendered a Return on Your Investment and how are they assisting your team?

Well, I really can’t tell you that yet because we are still attempting to figure out what all this stuff is and everything it can do.   It is really remarkable what all this technology can do. 


I see, well who or what company is responsible for training your team on the proper usage?

There was not one company who could deliver all the products so we have different vendors for most of them and they offer their services.  And, of course that creates a problem because of various scheduling problems and making sure everyone who should be working is working so they get trained.  I know we need to get on that.

So, who in your organization coordinates this training?

That’s a good question.  I think it should be the GSM or one of the managers but they are just tooooooooo busy to really get around to it so we are winging it right now. 

How’s it going overall in your opinion?

I can sort of tell how many telephone inquiries we are getting and how many appointments we are making and who shows and who doesn’t and which ones sold.  It will also tell me who calls and how long the conversations were and lets me listen to a recording of it. But honestly speaking, even though I do love all the new toys  our numbers really have not changed.  That part is a little disappointing.

Why do you think that is?

Not sure.  But if I had to guess it would be because my managers haven’t’ quite bought in yet.   

How about their subordinates?

No, they are the same way.  Kind of waiting for someone to make them do it I guess.  I don’t really think everyone is putting in the information all the time.

What elements went into your decision making process to purchases these various products?

I wanted everything I could get my hands on to help us grow this business.  We had all kinds of vendors with stuff you would not believe.  We just selected the ones we felt could work for us.

You can see how this was going, right?  I wanted you to get a feel for what is going on out there in some stores.  If we continued this conversation, Q & A by Q & A, Dealer Magazine would have to allocate a full magazine for its content so let’s abbreviate it to the messages which needs to be heard. In the few questions and answers above, you should be able to construct what was going wrong and what measures should have been taken to get the ship righted.

What would you say is the number one reason for failure at this juncture?  You got it; Lack of Leadership or better yet, a Champion for the processes cause who was in possession of Leadership skills.  Sounds like too many Indians and not enough Chiefs to me.  What would be next?  Right again; No Plan of Attack.  Ready shoot aim seems fitting here. You have to be developing people and processes to make it fly; product selection team, training manager, leadership, monitoring and then reaping the benefits, right? Simply stated, if you don’t have a map to get you to where you want to be then you will usually end up somewhere but not where you want to be. Then, tomorrow just becomes today but a day later.  Most of the managers in various stores essentially do not feel it is their job to get off the tower and actually “develop” their team. Sitting and waiting for someone to approach them with a deal is usually their ideal job description. Manager’s limitations are not what they don’t have its what they are not doing. One cannot occupy leadership space without seeing and building a solid foundation of growth for their team.  When you succeed at one level you either keep going or stop.

Key Point: Don’t stay where you started if you are not growing. An Oak tree planted in a pot will only grow as far as the pot allows.

I, along perhaps with you, sensed the excitement of implementing new technology by this Dealer yet a blatantly absent sense of excitement  revolving convicted leadership to make things happen and improve his business.  The tell tale sign was “my managers haven’t quite bought in yet.” Not bought in yet, give me a break.  Who runs the show and should have established buy-in a long time ago and made them a part of the process?  No, this is not the way I speak to my clients, just what I am thinking.  Usually I prepare a diplomatic delivery for the problem resolution.  I do believe in being candid with folks and identifying the unspoken harsh truths but in a professional deliverable.

This Dealer actually went on to tell me stories of how he cannot get his managers or employees to do things.  He tells them, they acknowledge,  and then they do whatever they want (business as usual). We all call it the ‘Can Do’ vs. the ‘Will Do’ ‘Can they,’ the skill set side and the ‘Will they do it,’ is an age old problem in this business. Lots of talented unsuccessful employees out there. Please don’t misconstrue my approach to this problem as using Gestapo tactics because we have all witnessed over the years how awful and unproductive that can be. And, it only produces temporary short-term, fear-based tactical results.

I would begin with the “Can Do.” Let’s make sure we, as the management team clearly understand all the necessary training, reasoning, processes, technology, buy-in and procedure pathways for attaining the best overall strategy towards the successful fulfillment of where we want to go. Then, and only then is the management team ready to deliver the same quality understanding and education to the team. The key will be what I call the “who’s watching” theory. Meaning, the managers of the store have to develop an unwavering devotion to monitor, check, assist, suggest and develop the individuals under their helm.  Don’t just tell – do. Let the team clearly see and understand the importance and benefits of following processes and accomplishing timely tasks.

We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment. – Jim Rohn
In the dealership I described above, essentially there were no clear cut processes and everyone including managers went along with a ‘business as usual’ approach with nary an appreciation that there were new production tools around that just happen to be costing the store thousands of dollars. There is no quick fix or short cuts because most short cuts I have seen are really the long way around and not short cuts at all. You cannot simply turn on technology and expect refreshing results without a solid platform from which to build upon. The good news for today is; always, always begin with the tightest controls possible because you can always loosen them but if you start loose it is very tough to tighten those control standards and procedures. Be strong in your Leadership roles. They will eventually thank you and it will grow your business.

If you would like a few “processing guidelines” email me and I will get them out to you and your team.

Author: Chuck Barker for Dealer Magazine

Chuck Barker is President & Founder of Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, located in Virginia. He has assisted dealers & corporations across the country in sales & service development training programs, management leadership workshops and business improvement consulting. He is a pioneer in BDC, CRM, Best Processes and Team Member Development since the early ‘90’s. He worked in Corporate and International Executive positions. Chuck has been a monthly contributor for Dealer Magazine for over 11 years. His recently published project is a comprehensive ‘in-house’ sales/leadership training solution program for dealership entitled The Dealership Success Guide. Email:


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