The Engine

The Engine

As we open the hood of a vehicle and look inside; what do we see?  What is the purpose of it all?  If it is a performance car its job is to produce horsepower.  As the horsepower increases so does the degree of satisfaction the driver experiences.

This does not take place randomly.  All engines large and small rely on a series of parts to achieve an ultimate goal.  There is no one part greater than another.  Some have an immediate purpose while others are installed to protect the engine from running inefficiently and wearing out faster.  When all parts are working together the engine runs at peak efficiency.

No matter how great the engine is engineered it really is no greater than the sum of all its parts.  If the water pump is leaking or the alternator is not charging the vehicle will not run right.  All eight cylinders must fire sequentially in order to turn the crank.  If one spark plug is fowled it will cause the engine to misfire and every other part of that engine will run inefficiently.

It makes little difference how great each part is individually.  We can install all the high performance parts that we want, but if one part is off the entire engine runs poorly.  A poor running engine will only contribute to a negative driving experience and create driver frustration and dissatisfaction.

Producing satisfaction is constant in all things.  Even our bodies, environment and the most profitable organizations rely on the sum of all their parts working together to produce an intended purpose.

The key to satisfaction is no one thing.  It takes a group working together and supporting each other in all ways.  There is no one person more important than another in any organization.  Position has no bearing, salary has no effect, and length of employment is not a determining factor.

Recently, I was speaking to a coworker about the customer survey situation in our organization.  The company places a lot of stock in customer satisfaction and these surveys are meant to measure how well or how poorly we are doing.  We can’t fix what we can’t measure.  These surveys are very important.  In fact how they come back totally effects the reputation of the sales consultant.  However, if the customer is dissatisfied with one experience with any other member of the team the survey will tank.  I have personally been the victim of the inability of another team member to satisfy a client on two occasions.  Both times I called my customers to discuss the issues they may have had and received very similar responses.  They would say, “Oh no Ron, you were wonderful.  This was one of my best experiences with a sales consultant.  It was just a problem I had with so and so.”  It would seem that regardless of how well we performed others were working inefficiently and ineffectively.  They were not satisfying our customers.  Often it was as simple as not being honest with them or making promises that we could not keep and other times it was a lack of common sense, but the majority of the time it was caused by customers having to spend excessive amounts of time at the dealership.

The bottom line is that we could not do it alone.  We needed an entire organization to accomplish our goal.  A team of people working together at maximum efficiency is the only way to satisfy our clients.

Sometimes it was coworkers trying too hard and other times it was coworkers not trying at all.  My initial survey came back at fifty percent.  I was astonished!  I remembered going well beyond the call of duty to satisfy my client.  In fact she even commented on how helpful and accommodating I had been throughout the process.  Her smile and handshake as I delivered the vehicle more than confirmed that I would be receiving high marks on the customer satisfaction survey.

What had happened?  Well, a well intentioned coworker had rescheduled the delivery date on my day off without me knowing.  His intentions were to get the customer her vehicle a few days earlier.  However, he was not aware of the client’s tight schedule on Friday’s.  I had scheduled her delivery for a Tuesday after discussing with her what would be the best time for her to pick up her new car.  I knew without a doubt when the paperwork would be completed, the car could be registered and the accessories would be installed.  He ended up making promises that we could not keep and in the process caused my client to rearrange her entire Friday’s schedule for no reason.  He tried to fix something that was not broken and in the process of failing to produce was caught lying to the customer and created extreme customer dissatisfaction.

As we hold strong to truth it is truth which we can always fall back on.

Never ever lie to anyone.  Honesty in all areas is the best plan for success in any organization.  Mistakes will be made, but if we own up to them and learn from them we are less likely to make the same mistakes again.  As we continue to lie we fail to resolve the issue and set ourselves up for continuous failure.  Besides, we can always fall back on the truth, but we will rarely recall the lie and dishonesty never produces satisfaction.

The second failure stemmed from a miscommunication between departments.  The management and receptionist continually patched a customer through to my voicemail on my day off.  The customer needed information that anyone could have gave her, but instead of helping our customer they decided to pass the buck to my customer.  In other words, they assumed that I was not handling my business, but in actuality I was not there to handle our business and the customer was not satisfied.  The customer only remembered that she left several messages on my answering machine and nobody returned her call.  This equaled poor customer service and was reflected in the survey.  If one person took the initiative, checked the schedule or simply used common sense the survey would have came back at one hundred percent satisfied.

My coworker’s issues were much the same.  Yet, in my experience excessive time spent at the dealership is the biggest issue.  We can always make more money, but we can’t make more time.  The key is to spend time wisely.

I’ve heard coworkers say, “Why are you doing his dirty work?”  I’ve also seen coworkers spending time talking about how others are not doing their jobs properly while gaining joy from witnessing their mistakes.  I’ve seen them standing around in groups doing nothing while watching others juggling responsibilities.  Short sightedness was prominent on the sales floor.  It seemed as if some coworkers were just thinking about themselves and when they had nothing to do they did nothing but complain about others.  The reality is that the time belongs to the customer; not to us!

As we help our coworkers our coworkers are better able to serve our customers.  This is a recipe for customer satisfaction.  Time is being freed up for everyone and after all aren’t we all each other’s customers?

If we help our sales managers with their customers won’t they have more time to help us with ours?  As we help those in other departments they will be able to serve our customers more effectively and efficiently.  This allows clients to spend less time at the dealership.  Less time at the dealership produces more customer satisfaction.

We are the engine!  Every one of us plays a crucial role in what the engine produces.  The engine is only as great as the sum of all its parts.  It is our job to keep the system lubricated and running smoothly.  We must filter out the dissatisfaction and maintain a constant air flow.  By working together for a common goal we will run at peak efficiency with less effort and ever increasing results.

Team Work Seminar

Begin by having the sales consultants gather around any performance car on the lot. Have a sales consultant open the hood and ask them to explain what they see.  Have them talk about the engine.  What is its function?  How much horsepower does it produce?  In what way does the performance of the engine effect the driver?  How do all the parts affect one another?

After they are done explain how the organization consists of a team and relate it to how an engine works to create horsepower by the sum of its parts which in turn delivers driver satisfaction.

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