Schedule your priorities, Not prioritize your schedule
“Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Have you ever looked at the clock and seen it was the end of your shift and you thought to yourself, “Wow — where did the day go?” Or worse, “Uh oh, I got absolutely nothing done today.” Well, you are not alone; most people in our industry feel the exact same way. Automotive professionals sometimes describe working at a dealership as “chaotic,” “a constant fire drill,” “not organized,” “overwhelming,” “stressful,” etc.
A lot of dealerships feel like they are grinding to sell cars, but wonder why they constantly fail to hit their objectives. They are confused why they are not selling as many units as they need to, even though they have their team working bell-to-bell most of the month. There is a logical reason of course: They have no understanding or training when it comes to proper time management. Remember, there are only 86,400 seconds in a day. When they are gone, they are gone. For the most part, most dealerships just “react” versus being “proactive.”
You can get up and have a positive attitude and want to work really hard, but if you have no plan, you can’t expect to be tremendously successful. Don’t get me wrong — I am sure you can have some success. It will only be short lived, however, or not at the full magnitude that you are capable.
Here is an example: If I said to everyone reading this AutoSuccess article that I am giving away $1,000,000 to anyone who can drive from Houston, Texas to Philadelphia, would you be in? Of course you would be. But here is the catch: You can only use this map that I give you. Are you still in? Of course you are. But there is more to the catch. The map is of the city of San Francisco. Uh, oh. That changes everything, because the rules of the $1,000,000 giveaway is that you have to use this map and only this map.
So how in the world are you going to get this easy million dollars? Oh, I know: You can have a great attitude. You can think positively, and you can be happy about the opportunity. Is that going to help you accomplish that goal? No. A positive attitude is great, but it is not enough in this example, and it is not enough in the real world at your dealerships.
OK, how about working hard? If you work really hard at looking at this map of San Francisco, maybe you can unlock some secret rout to Philadelphia from Houston? No, you can’t. So, working hard is important, but it is not the sole answer. You need to have a map; you need an internal global positioning system (GPS). You need to begin with the end in mind. Car dealerships are awesome, but they are hectic; there is a lot going on. Plus, it is a month-to-month business. I get it. You need, though, to take control of what you have control of — yourself.
We all have multiple roles in our life. We are not just automotive professionals. Some additional roles that you might fall into include:
• Parent • Son/daughter • Brother/sister • Manager
• Leader • Owner • Trainer • Motivator
• Analyst • Friend • Volunteer • Veteran
• Paramedic • Athlete • Pet owner • Community activist
• Baby Sitter (which can have multiple meanings…)
So, now take into account how busy your day is, how hectic a dealership is, how intense our industry is and now add all of the roles you play in life. How are you juggling everything? Are you even trying to juggle or are you neglecting important things?
There is a better way.
Internationally respected leadership authority Dr. Stephen Covey says that the most effective planning is weekly planning — not monthly or daily. It is truly best to pick a time once a week (my wife and I prefer Friday, after work) and map out the following week. The key is not to overload or “pack” as much as possible into a short amount of time. Rather, you want to identify your priorities — a.k.a. “must do’s” — and schedule them first. This should include your different roles. You want to make sure that you put first things first. Here are some examples:
• Showroom appointments
• Training sessions (can be from the dealership or on your own)
• Phone call and follow-up time
• Breaks, lunch, etc. (it is important to refresh yourself and “sharpen the saw”)
• Any days off
• Clients anniversaries, birthdays or other important dates
• Personal friends’/relatives’ anniversaries, birthdays or other important dates
• Special time with family (and or friends)
• Health appointments (doctors etc…)
• Relaxation time
If you have any questions about this article or would like some advice on how to create a powerful weekly planning road map, please feel free to call me or e-mail me.
Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 267-319-6776, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.