The idea of success can be interpreted in different ways depending on the employee, Andy Church, consultant and CEO of ASE Americas LLC, says.
“If the manager doesn’t define success for the team, then the team will define it for themselves,” Church says. “If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?”
Working with roughly 1,300 dealers in the United States, ASE Americas has enabled Church to create “Profit By Action,” an interactive and online training base for dealers. As a certified dealership trainer, Church finds that fixed ops departments that take a step back in order to properly forecast sales can see greater results than jumping right into a goal.
“Start out with doing your homework, especially when it comes to a fixed operations business,” Church says.
When looking into how to properly set goals within your business, Church offers a five-step method that focuses on current results, what defines success for the company, how the team can become involved, and how to ensure that results are achievable.
Step One: Do Your Homework.
Before you dive into determining what goals you want to reach for the business, it’s important to take a step back and see how everything is working. According to Church, one key aspect to look for is how seasons of your location play into the business.
“Do some of your homework to understand your seasonality where you are—build your seasonality into your [sales] forecast,” Church says.
Whether you operate in Florida or New York, there are specific times throughout the year when business can flourish.
“If you go up in the Northeast, you have a couple of spikes, especially in October and April [due to cold weather],” Church says.
Step Two: Incorporate Your Team.
When incorporating change, it’s important to make sure everyone is part of the process in order to establish a unified mindset from the beginning. In order to make sure all communication is clear, Church suggests that all team members should gather in one room together to start the meeting.
Once everyone is together, it’s important to ask the team this question: “What do we sell?”
“A lot of times the answer is, ‘we sell labor, parts,’” Church says. “But I tell them, ‘No, we sell time.’ If you start by defining performance on where they are today, which is time and parts, then we know the basis.”
Following the brief discussion, Church says it’s important to let staff members know what present-day data looks like for the business.
“First thing you want to do is tell them where you are today,” Church says. “Start with, here’s our performance today [and] here’s what we’re measured against.”
After looking over results, it’s important to begin to ask staff members about those results and inquire about ways it can be changed, Church says. When setting goals in the shop, it’s important to keep the advisors and technicians in mind.
“You should be talking to the advisors and technicians about getting their thoughts on a flat analysis of the business,” Church says. “Once you know [flat analysis], you’re able to see where you’re weak and how to improve efficiency; if you don’t have flat analysis, you won’t understand what you’re going to take. Without monitoring, you really don’t have a plan.”
Step Three: Establish an Agreement.
Once the team has gone over all results, it’s important to consult with everyone to determine whether or not the goal is doable. After reviewing, be precise on what you want for the staff and how you see it working.
“Quite often, the definition of success for employees is going to be completely different [than owners],” Church says. “If they know what success is, whether that’s 1,100 hours sold in the shop, everybody knows what the target is, and it’s proven that people will do more to achieve a target than realize a goal.”
After defining a target to reach, listen to the reactions from your staff members to see whether they believe the goal is doable.
“Get everyone in the room nodding their heads for yes, then you can start on the action plan,” Church says.
Step Four: Get Into Action.
When looking to improve numbers at the shop and land near your goal, it’s important to review all processes in place to determine where growth could be found. According to Church, customers often aren’t thinking of their busted wiper blades until it’s starting to rain out.
“You need to make sure you’re being proactive,” Church says.
Don’t just forget about the tasks at hand—make sure there are sets of eyes watching to make sure the plan is in place.
“Assign responsibility back [to the staff],” Church says. “Take all of these great ideas and say, ‘Now, who’s going to run with it,’ so that everybody has at least a little skin in the game.”
Step Five: Review Results Weekly.
It’s important to set aside time to review the results in order to anticipate if the forecast is on track from the beginning. According to Church, there are two key timeframes that should be considered when looking at results: at the end of each week, as well as quarterly throughout the year.
“You should look at the plan on a weekly basis,” Church says. “By the end of [the first week], you should know if you’re on pace to make your running rate, and if you aren’t on forecast, you still have time to do more action.”
Church recommends keeping track of results on an Excel sheet as numbers are automatically calculated as soon as they’re plugged in.
“If you wait until the last week of the month [to make a change], then you don’t have enough time,” Church says.
As soon as it’s time for quarterly reviews, Church says this time frame can be used as an adjustment period for the business. Businesses can then take a step back and look over the accuracy of the forecast, as well as ways to adjust for the next goal.