I have a car dealer client in Colorado with a showroom that is out of this world. It’s a well-appointed living room environment complete with plenty of workstations, wireless internet, salt water aquarium, fireplace, and a well-rounded playlist on their music system – and the music’s loud. I routinely arrive earlier than my scheduled meeting with the client because it’s a very comfortable and engaging place to work.

In defining the standard of excellence for your team, there are a couple of big picture essential ingredients that I want to share with you. The essential ingredients are not the measuring sticks that you are used to evaluating – CSI, Market Share, and Net Profit. These essential ingredients are more fundamental than that, but have a direct impact on your ability to obtain those benchmark performance numbers. First – Is the setting of all of the environments that customers interact with in your business attractive and appealing? 

We have long lived in a culture in which first impressions are incredibly important. People are increasingly drawn toward comfortable and inviting environments. And we only have one opportunity to make that first impression. This may be one of the reasons the manufacturers put so much pressure on you for facility upgrades. They understand this principle. I’m not convinced they know how to achieve it, but it is perhaps what they are after. Rest assured, though, your environment sends messages to your customers. In my first post on this topic, I indicated that the message I received from my local Toyota dealer was “We were not expecting you and we’re not prepared to serve you.” 

What messages do the environments in your dealerships communicate?  

  • “We’re disorganized and don’t care”

  • “We weren’t expecting you and don’t really want to deal with your problem”

  • “We’re not doing anything important here” 

  • “Don’t worry, if you drive around long enough you’ll eventually find the service department.”

  • “We’re not really interested in selling you a car.”

There is a principle that the more time you spend in a messy environment the more unaware you become of the mess. Put a set of fresh eyes on your environments and ask yourself  “Are our environments appealing?” and “What messages are we sending?”

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