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Why Your Manual Up System Is Failing You

There's always a small satisfaction placing that fresh sheet of paper into the clipboard, the simple exercise that brings so much order to the impending chaos that will hit the showroom floor at your dealership in mere minutes.

The top of the sheet reads "today's rotation". The numbers left-aligned so gracefully down the side. An elegant ballet between 50 pound white stock and Bic blue ink #74. "It's fool-proof", the dealer principal has said thousands of times. "First-in, first on the list and just rotate through the staff. Anyone can do this!"

But just as quickly as the satisfaction from moments ago rolled in, dread begins to manifest in your gut as you lay the clipboard at the receptionists desk. "Maybe today", you think to yourself. "Maybe today it will work. Maybe today the clipboard will save the staff from the steely grip of chaos. There will be organization, there will be a process, our customer's experience will be pleasant."

You pop your second Tumms of the morning.

You've been at the store 30 minutes.

Staff start to make their way to the showroom floor, some immediately over to the clipboard to get to the top of the list. They want those walk-ins. Others make little or no effort to get their names on the list. You always wonder to yourself, "should I just add their names, will that help?" But you leave them to be responsible for the order in which they rotate up for the next walk-in.

Some days they never make it over to the desk to add their names, odd thing is that, they always seem to find walk-ins to work with that those on the list missed? You're never really sure how that happens.

A strange phenomenon happens.

After the list is full and the store is open for business, "the cluster" occurs. Everyone on the list fearfully groups up outside the front doors of the dealership, worried they will miss their turn to get an up. There's nothing wrong with that right? You want your people out there, attentive, approachable and ready to maximize each customer's experience. But who's working their follow ups?

The customers begin to drive into the lot. Your sales staff begins practicing "what we've always done" and starts to engage with each and every customer as professionally as they can while navigating "the cluster".

Names start being scratched off the list on the clipboard. Ted, 4 spots down, is the first to come off the list.

Wait a second, where's June? She's first on the list, why isn't she with that customer?

Karen takes her name off next, she's second on the list. Names slowly get scratched off one by one until the sheet is an awful mess of scribbles and partial customer names and info. There's no way of really knowing who's next. They seem to have their own rules worked out among the sales team. Sales people are working with their walk-ins and appointments and you try to jump in where you can making the odd intro. But how many have been made by the other managers? Is anyone out on test drives? Which cars are out?

The panic rises.

A quick glance at the clipboard on the receptionist desk only confirms one thing. At one moment, and one moment only, the list provides brief organization prior to the day starting. The other managers never even touch the clipboard. They cling to their favorites. Those salespeople they know will close fastest for them. Are they helping the others? After the initial hustle The sales people never return to the list either. There may be feeble attempts some days to add their names to the list but those are really only on the odd slow day.

No one is living by the queue anymore. Your vision of continuity and process as a whole are swallowed up again.

Customers come and go and staff return, time and time again, to the cluster at the front doors. The list was forgotten long ago, and, ever so slowly, that affects other facets of your operation you need your team to also focus on.

CRM adoption, lead follow-up, appointment building. The clipboard, in all it's simplicity, isn't an agent of change. It is not a process, but rather a carrier of plagues that will continue to sully your team accountability and, ultimately, your customer experience.

As the day ends you remove the once pristine sheet from the clipboard and throw it in the trash. You pull your reports but know they aren't really a true reflection of what happened in your store today. You're not really sure what went wrong but you think to yourself, "maybe tomorrow things will be different, yeah tomorrow". You reach for your Tumms, none left. You ate them all well before lunch.

Does any of this sound familiar? Is there a disconnect between what you think is happening and what's really going on in your dealership? Has your sales team gone rogue and establish their own order? What about your other managers? Are they just as disconnected from the process?

If you see the value in a managed floor, you're on the right track. Now, how do you get everyone on the same page and manage your dealership like a well-oiled machine?

Stay tuned for next week's post on how to SUCCESSFULLY implement and establish a true managed floor sales process using an up system.

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