Room for Improvement
This week’s guest blog from Ross Atkinson covers all of the ways in which we can still find room for improvement in our processes.
In my last blog, I entertained the concept of reviewing processes. The idea was that a dealership should look at their processes on a regular basis to validate that what and how things are being done is still relevant and to avoid that dreaded word complacency. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way, even successfully, doesn’t mean that improvements are not possible. Most everything is in constant flux – people change, customers change, systems change, businesses change and technologies change; so why would you believe your processes should remain the same?
A good example is customer statements. Do you still print and mail them out each month? Have you considered emailing them and saving a lot of time and money? Even better, why not give your customers access to their statements and invoices through an internet portal along with a lot of other important information? Are you stuck in the “we have always done it this way” or the “our customers won’t accept this” rut? Or maybe you simply haven’t reviewed the process to ask yourself if there is a better way? If you are not leading the process improvement wave, you’ll always be playing second fiddle to those who are leading the way.
In my experiences in the heavy equipment software industry, dealers were always coming up with an improvement, workflow change or system modification that would make their processes better, saving time or filling a business need. However, it was never a single dealer coming up with all the ideas. It usually went hand in hand with how progressive a dealer and in a particular area they routinely focused on.
So, if you are struggling to come up with a process improvement idea, look to your industry peers. There’s no shortage of dealer meetings or group software training sessions or picking up the telephone and asking other dealers how they do it. There’s no shame in taking advantage of their knowledge and experiences so you don’t have to. It doesn’t mean you need to do it exactly the same way but if it inspires you to think outside the box, it’s worth it!
You also need to know that an improvement doesn’t have to be huge; even a subtle change can have a positive impact on your business. Have you ever thought about analyzing what it takes your staff to process a parts invoice? You might be surprised with what you discover. It might be lack of constancy amongst your staff or a lack of knowledge requiring some education. Maybe your staff can improve their interaction with the system, reduce the number of steps and speed up the transaction time. Imagine if you could eliminate just 10 seconds for each invoice; do the math and realize how much extra time your counter staff will have to better service your customers!
So, are you up for the challenge? There’s always room for improvement. The onus is on you to make the commitment of reviewing, identifying and implementing process changes.