When reading automotive industry publications, among the great articles about effective processes and success stories, we unfortunately often find headlines concerning another dealership or group that is being pursued legally for deceptive practices.
I have worked one-on-one with dealers for many years. Among them I have found some of the most gifted entrepreneurs our economy can offer, as well as some of the highest levels of self-effacing integrity. The automotive industry drives our economy and provides a workplace in cities across America for some of her finest citizens. Yet the misbehavior of a few continues to tarnish our efforts.
I’ll leave it to the compliance experts to provide an in-depth look into the list of practices that we must exclude in our industry. I simply ask you to consider two of the principles that make some feel comfortable providing a less than transparent and honest process.
In 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart in midair just 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members. The cause was traced to failure of the “O-rings” on the rocket boosters due to the low air temperatures that day. However, in retrospect, a commission later concluded that two practices of the organization were more to blame. It should sound warnings to all of us if we see them in our organization.1. The Consistent Warnings of Experts Were Ignored.
One of the engineers heavily involved in the design of the rocket warned in a conference call that the O-rings were not capable of performing at the low temperatures forecast for the day of launch. After his warnings were ignored, he reportedly sat and screamed to others that “The rocket will explode, and everyone will die!”
Our industry has been greatly helped by some of the finest legal minds who have dedicated themselves to educating our industry on the facts and effective ways to implement a transparent, customer-focused process. And surprisingly (to some), many of those who have adhered to the most transparent and stringent guidelines recommended have reached record levels of income and profits. They listened to the experts and adjusted where necessary. Others have waited for an explosion that they were sure would never happen to motivate them.2. Urgency Drove Decisions That Crossed the Line and Clouded Reasoning.
The space shuttle program was on a stringent timeline, not only for this launch but for subsequent ones. Any delay here would cause a ripple effect in future efforts. The window of opportunity to get this launch off was closing fast and the pressure caused unwise decisions to be made. Sound familiar?
The pressure to meet a sales quota, hold a deal together at all costs or on an individual level or to meet a pay-plan objective may lead to momentary and unwise decisions. Before you know it, those types of decisions become a commonplace strategy to reach goals, and anyone that challenges them is considered a problem or just forced out of the equation.
… At least until the explosion! That’s where the headlines come from! The cost of the Challenger tragedy, including the loss of life and the loss of the integrity of the program itself, may never be fully realized.
After the Great Recession of a decade ago, many in our industry took a deep look in the mirror and were determined to gain their way back into previous levels of profitability and to do so in the most transparent and customer-focused manner. Many have done just that and are simultaneously seeing record levels of profits and customer satisfaction. Hopefully, the good times will not lead to a regression in that focus.
As general agents and dealership partners, we must continue to provide compliance resources, training and insight. We must also be willing to sound the alarm when we see an explosion coming. Encourage them to listen to the experts and make sure that decisions being made in pressurized moments are good ones!
I look forward to seeing you on my next post. Visit www.go-reahard.com to learn more about how we can help you help more customers. Also feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas that get results is my passion!