Time Is a Problem
Are We Simply Solving Problems All Day?
Over a year ago I wrote in a blog that Time Was Your Enemy. The other day Mets Kramer and I were recording a Podcast on the Digital Dealership and we spoke about two companies who we think do a good job at a lot of things; Amazon and Google.
Amazon has data. Lots and lots of data. They have made data analytics into an art form. They know what every customer looked at and what they did with it. They know every vendor and how they perform. They are constantly “tweaking” things to provide a better customer experience. They are constantly working on their business.
Google gets revenue from their customer search information. What were you looking at and where were you? And they are constantly improving their systems and process. It is reported that they spend 70% of their investments on their current operations. Making sure it runs in the best way possible across all platforms. They spend 20% of their investments on continuous improvements projects identified by their employees. The final 10% of their investment goes to what they call “Moonshots.” Ideas from their employees that might or might not be successful. They are constantly working on their business.
As we continued talking about them, we shifted to what we do in our businesses. We called it as we saw it. We are problem solvers. We put out fires. That led us to reviewing the firefighters and how they do their job. Statistically it is said that 5% of the firefighters’ time is spent fighting fires. The other 95% is doing things aimed at preventing fires. They are constantly working on their business.
Shifting back to our Industry we concluded that we were spending 95% of our time fighting fires and very little time on trying to eliminate problems. We are working “IN” the business not “ON” the business.
The other blog from me recently is about the workforce and what is happening in that aspect of our businesses. We have rarely any succession plan. We rarely do annual performance reviews. We rarely if ever do exit interviews to find out why employees are leaving and what ideas and thoughts, they have to make the job they are leaving better. We just continue what we have always done. Solve problems. In fact, Mets suggested that we self-correct as an Industry. There is a lot of pressure in problem solving all day long. We separate from people who cannot work under that kind of constant pressure. We also employ people who are used to repetitive work. Process orders, give quotations and availability checks. Give status reports on work in process. But who is there out there who is employed to identify continuous improvement ideas?
When Six Sigma was implemented, many dealerships created job functions outside of the normal day to day problem solving work to have their lives be dependent on finding ways to make things better. Who do you have doing that work today? What changes are you making to your processes and procedures and your methods? Who is analyzing your data to identify customer activity? Who is researching the changing buying habits of your customers?
That led me to this blog. I think we have a lot of work to do. Don’t get me wrong many of you have done a wonderful job in customer service. You make a fair amount of pretax income. You support your employees and they in turn support your customers and vendors. On the surface things look OK. But like a duck swimming in the river. It looks calm on top of the water but that duck is working hard at paddling away underwater.
Becoming a Digital Dealer is of critical importance if we want to stay abreast of the market and the trends in customer purchasing. It is said that 73% of the people charged with the responsibility of purchasing things in business today is done by millennials. Further 50% of the millennials do their purchasing online. How does that fit into your business model? Are your employee’s serving customers as they have always done? What percentage of your parts business is coming to you via the internet? What percentage of your customers have millennials doing their purchasing? Do you see the dilemma that I see?
Over the last fifty years from work that I have done over that period of time I have watched market share for parts drop by 50%, market share for labor drops of 30%. Have you noticed that yourself? Do you know your parts or labor market share? From my work in the industry there are very few, less than 10% of the dealers, that I have worked with, that know their market share. To make matters worse they don’t have current and accurate machine population lists by customer either. That is the most basic piece of data that we have in our industry and it is clearly the most important.
I will close with the truth that keeps me going. Everyone wants to do a good job. I believe that to my core. BUT. Everyone has to know what doing a good job looks like. Amazon and Google have shown us the way. Our job is constantly changing as is our market. Are our dealerships constantly changing, constantly improving the processes and systems for their customers? Sadly, I don’t think we are. Now is clearly the time to have the discipline and the personal character to work on the business not simply in the business. Now is the time to eliminate problems not simply solve them. It is clearly up to you.
The Time is Now.