How would you respond if one of your best friends during a social gathering came up to you and said something like this: “Wow, you really have to try that new restaurant on the corner of Elm and Main. We had such an average meal there. The food quality was average, the service was average, the décor was average and just everything about our experience there was average.”

Most likely you would not even get close to visiting that restaurant. Why? Because who chases average around?

Would you wish for average grades for your kids? Average food for your family? How about taking just average care of yourself? So why is it so many dealerships settle and many actually camp out with being average? Because being average and even below average is just what these stores are settling for; average sales people, average managers, average customer experiences, average training, average everything. Sure they might experience a flurry of business activity out of shear market swings or luck and think they are above average but then they fall right back into average again. You know, maybe it is because being average is just the easy way to do things. I call this blind in plain sight.

Impact GroupRemember what temperature water boils at? Sure you do – 212 degrees Fahrenheit. What is it at 211 degrees? Just real hot water. One simple ‘extra’ degree takes hot water to an energy level that is explosive in energy. Many stores out there are the same way; one degree off of truly developing winning players: sales people and leaders. One more “extra” degree provided to the team of the right stuff (education, processes, encouragement and leadership) can elevate the entire dealership to unsurpassed greatness but you have to want it for it to occur.

Let’s look at an example of what making a commitment to do a little ‘extra’ can actually mean. You may remember the great baseball hall of famer, Tony Gwynn. Tony was not known for his home run abilities but instead his super consistent base hitting abilities. One year, Tony was hitting a .340 average and making around $3.5 million. On the same team was another player who was hitting .240 and making $350,000.

For way too long people have put vast differences between being ordinary and extraordinary but the truth is just a little ‘extra’ is all it takes. You see, Tony Gwynn had such a commitment to being a great hitter that he came out to batting practice before everyone else so he could get in ‘extra’ swings. The payoff? The difference between making 3.5 million and $350K was in Tony’s ability to get just one more hit in ten attempts at the plate. One more hit earned him 10 times more money and a ticket to the Hall of Fame. The other guy – just average.

A little extra placed before ordinary can take you and your store to extraordinary places of achievement.

I spoke with a GSM of a store recently whereby he described how his month ended up; “We ended up with a great month. We sold 220 vehicles.” I asked how the gross profits per copy looked and he told me a number that was way below average. In fact it was pretty lousy. I asked him how many sales people he had working the floor that month and he proudly announced that they had 22 salespeople but wanted another 10 so they could sell more units.

Ok, the math giant in me quickly computed that his sales team was averaging just 10 units each. Now we all have crystal clear clarity why they had below average gross profits — because he flooded the floor with below average sales people. Further conversation uncovered that the store also had high a high attrition rate, no leading edge training, poor leadership direction and low team synergy. So, an average sales person means average managers and an average dealer who does not get the big picture or blind in plain sight.

This is not brain surgery, can’t they see that this vicious cycle cannot be broken without changing everything about the way they are currently doing business?

This store is acting like a lot of dealerships out there right now operating as pretenders; get those units, units, units at all costs. These stores are overlooking the simple fact that attrition really costs you big time money. Soft costs also mount up in the store’s reputation killing due to the lack of selling skills or the hard costs associated with blowing off sales opportunities due to the ineptness of the sales team and finally the morale busting people constantly looking to jump ship.

I would jump at the chance to leave this store too if one of their competitors gave me the opportunity to join a sales team that had the following in place:

  • Superior professional learning principles
  • A granite solid plan toward a process for every income producing area
  • An environment that supports and engenders team synergy
  • Leadership that embraced the logic of growing their people
  • Potential to achieve ‘extra’ unit sales and better gross profits

It has become such a cliché for management to claim that ‘people are our greatest asset’. Yet, much to the dismay of everyone, the effort they put in to developing this ‘human capital’ continues to be seen as an expense and not as an investment. It’s time to turn this around. If you start to analyze your training programs as if they were capital investments — using techniques like ROI — senior management may start to change their attitude to the new leading edge training techniques.

We are at a time when there are so many exciting new developments and tactics you can adopt right now for your business development, you are blind in plain sight if you don’t muster the good sense to do something about it.

Many managers I am seeing are losing their way through inactionable direction, an illogical expectation of blind obedience, a delusion that says “Do what I say, even if it’s not possible or makes sense.” Other managers are blinded by the worship of high speed as a defense against depth, disrespecting deep-water leadership by diving head first at warp speed right into the kiddie pool. Still others are too busy driving to stop and get gas, disguising their blinded state in camouflaged commotion.

Regardless of the origins of this blindness, many managers often feel they are so deep within this dense fog that they are blinded from seeing how to grow themselves. Feeling this, they too often choose “motion-worship”, degenerating into the shallowness of a doing to be doing. ‘Busy-ness’ instead of ‘business’.

Stop this crazy meaningless motion. Don’t just do something, stand there. Good advice for leaders these days. Managers too often ignore the wisdom of listening more than preaching. Overlooking team development, some managers choose purposeless direction. Make bad choices. Over reaction reflexes to the simplest of problems. To deflect their ignorance further, they employ ‘right now’ urgency. Urgency captures attention through anxiety and creates propped-up popularity, but is often light on substance. Urgency without purpose is a defense against identity.

Too often managers appear as empty bobbling heads at the sales tower urgently whining about execution which gets really old.

Impact GroupManagers unaware of who they are usually default to the philosophy of “I’m so busy spinning around the store so I must be great.” They create flurries of activity in hopes of obtaining unknown success. These hopes are sorely misplaced. After years of trudging, spinning, running, over reacting, and wasting effort at hard to catch productivity, these hopefuls find emptiness and amnesia. They forgot why they started all this in the first place. They are devoid of individual and team identity. Managers worshipping meaningless motion, the walking dead, are blind in plain sight.

Leaders who are not blinded have seen themselves and their identity is clear. Their decisions and actions are guided by how can I grow my people not what will I get. Clear sighted leaders wrestle with the question, what would I do if I got nothing in return? Clear sighted leaders forgo emptiness in their sales team’s knowledge and training for favor of individual and team based growing experiences which create synergy passion. The contagious and toxic age of the deal has created the age of the empty suit, missing identities and managers wallowing in the darkness of blindness to growing their people.

As always, I really appreciate you taking time to read this material as it shows a diligence towards you and your team’s improvement. If you can implement even one ‘extra’ thing to help improve your team’s growth you will see positive results. Charging in the direction for constant improvements in your store and your people will take everyone higher than before.

If you would like some pretty cool ideas I just had published to begin growing your team, please write me and I will be happy to send you the plain sight to the top.

Keep adding to your dealership’s growth and we will see you at the Summit.


Chuck Barker

Chuck Barker has been CEO of his two companies, Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC and Impact Summit, LLC, for the last 24 years, both located in Virginia. His experience ranges from an executive with Harris Corporation (16,000 employees) one of Fortune Magazine’s largest companies to the automobile industry where he has performed all executive positions. His companies specialize in growing businesses, dealerships and people. He delivers unparalleled sales & service development programs, management leadership workshop programs and dealer/principal business & profit improvement ideas for automobile dealerships. He has recently published the first comprehensive ‘in-house’ sales training solution program for dealers entitled The Dealership Success Guide.