Memorial Day Weekend is a memory. The winter shows are over. The spring cleaning is done. All the boats once in storage are now in the water. The units sold at the shows have been delivered. And sales training is complete.
Wait a minute! Do we ever stop learning or practicing our skills? Do athletes stop training or practicing when the season starts? The losers might, but the winners are always fine-tuning their skills. They continue to improve all season long to make sure they meet or exceed the goals they set before the season began.
When the season starts is when the coaches, aka Sales and Service Managers, earn their paychecks. Athletes keep their coaches close on the sidelines because pros know that they can get too close to the game and miss opportunities that come their way. A tuned-in Sales Manager with the help of modern-day systems can ensure their salespeople stay with the game plan by selecting the perfect boat for their customer, negotiating a mutually beneficial price, and delivering a better-than-expected buying experience. And a tuned-in Service Manager with the help of modern-day systems can ensure their technicians, riggers, yard staff and service writers stay with the game plan by selecting the perfect maintenance package for their customer, operating at high efficiency, and delivering a better-than-expected service experience.
I hear too often working with Certified Dealers that training is scheduled for the fall, and they have no plan to revisit what they learned during the offseason. Tell me it’s not so! Your favorite players continually develop and practice their skills, and you should do the same all season long.
Dealer Principles, Sales and Service Managers: We know this is a crazy time of year. We need to sell boats and keep up with the demand for service. We agree: It is time to put our heads down and sell, sell, sell and service. But there is still time to sharpen our skills during the game. I find that most dealers are still meeting with their sales and service teams on a regular schedule during the season. Since you’ve found the time to meet, make the most of this time and always touch on training.
I learned a formula for a successful meeting years ago during my Ford days that is a simple to execute and can apply to any dealership department. Every meeting should include:
- Recognition. They crave it and don’t get enough of it, which our Employee Satisfaction Survey results confirm. Note what they are doing well and give them a shout out. This requires making notes all week and reviewing them before your meeting.
- Housekeeping. Every dealership must stay on top of deals, scheduled jobs, deliveries, and the does & don’ts.
- Training. End every meeting with something that will help them sell or service a boat today. Take 10 minutes to review those nuggets you learned in the offseason so they don’t forget to use the information they’ve already picked up. Keep it simple. Go around the room and ask each salesperson why now is a good time to buy a boat. Each will have to think and answer, but often the biggest learning opportunity comes from the sharing of ideas. Or ask each technician how they can improve their efficiency or the customer experience. Or break-out those takeaways from MDCE. Review a page or two of your notes – or even better, an MDCE video or two – to relive those moments of brilliance in December and put the lessons to work. This is what good coaches do for their teams!
If after weeks of positive reinforcement, you still have a couple of team members not conforming to the process, meet with them privately for a refresher course that notes their deficiencies using my proven formula: Hug ‘em, Smack ‘em, Hug ‘em! Simply, start the conversation with what they are doing right. Give them the desired direction, and finish with some basic math: adding together what they are doing right along with the adjustment, which will end with a better result.
Champions never stop learning – and practicing what they know. When you make it a priority to carve out a few minutes a day during the heat of the summer to take advantage of the investments made in the off-season, you will reap the rewards of building a stronger foundation for success.