The Right People in the Right Places

by Desiree Homer

Evaluating & Restructuring Your Teams in the Wake of a Pandemic

As the nation continues to reopen its retail doors and push for normalcy, savvy business owners are also taking this time to reflect on lessons learned and truly evaluate the performances of staff. Dealers are determining their best way to surge forward, but also looking back at the ways key members of their teams have helped or hindered their overall objectives. As most have concluded, having the right people in the right roles is more essential than ever. During a recent Dealer News Today podcast, Chris Sondesky – Owner and CEO of BDC Pros – talked about the importance of guidance and staff training. It’s an eye-opening experience for many dealership owners who saw their top performers become demoralized during the pandemic, while other employees stepped up and delivered far beyond their job descriptions. It might be that reshuffling the duties, training efforts, and strategic positioning of roles is the next to-do on your list.

Find Your Weakest Links

How many employees bailed on you during the pandemic? Did the shutdowns reveal staff members who essentially checked out or fell off the radar? Some dealership owners did, and they now find themselves reevaluating their top performers for the road ahead. A plan for dealing with any sort of new internal operations should be put in place. If you’ve identified weak links among your staff, consider working with your human resources personnel to put together a communication plan that helps build them back up. There are still a numbers of chapters to be written about the pandemic, so even those who have gotten off to a slow start might be salvageable. There will be some old dogs not willing to learn new tricks, and it’s important to have the best rowers aboard your ship, but also critical for you to make the right call. It’s one of those moments when we all need to grab an oar, and those who are unwilling might not be with you for the right reasons.

Identify Your Key Performers

When looking back at the way situations have unfolded over the last several weeks, you can probably name at least one or two outstanding employees. When things were crazy, with shutdowns and disinfecting efforts, did you have a member of your team go above and beyond the call of duty? Maybe it was a parts department manager who single-handedly took on setting up a disinfection process for your customers’ service vehicles. Perhaps you had a rookie salesperson who took to making videos and handling the social media messages that showed support for your customers and promoted safety. Those employees who demonstrated resilience under pressure, loyalty to the dealership mission, and problem-solving beyond the job description deserve recognition. They may also be candidate for current or future leadership roles.

What New Skills Your Sales Teams Need to Have Moving Forward

The old days of customers strolling in and sitting with their favorite or familiar salesperson for hours may be fading into the rearview mirror. In the new digital and virtual sales environments, sales teams will need to be agile and efficient with online engagement strategies. This means embracing your new CRM tools, social media, and video communication. For older generation sales folks, this may require new or refreshed skills and training. If you’ve experienced turnover during the lengthy mitigation regulations, you will need to find replacement staff willing and able to engage in this new virtual sales realm, as well. Be patient with your veteran staff. They may require a little more attention and training, but they know how to connect with people and can continue to bring value to your team. However, you may have some so set in their ways that they’ll simply be unable to adjust to any new ways of selling. Encourage their efforts, because their inability to adjust their skillset might be just as frustrating for them as it is for you, but your commitment to a solid on-going operational foundation must be iron-clad.

Create an Environment Ripe for Ideas & Solutions

Training and transparent guidelines will help ensure that no matter how any new operational structure is implemented, your employees understand their roles and roadmap for success. If this includes software changes, on-going training will ensure far more efficiency and less frustration. Make resources and support genuinely available at every level and for every department. Consider staggering your training in phases, with recognition and accomplishment as employees progress. In doing so, you can transition your more traditional veterans into a true 21st-century operational strategy, while preserving the interest and commitment of your most tech savvy team members. Maintain a consistent dialogue with your HR managers and each employee to review and establish goals and to discuss new ideas. You’ll soon be fostering an environment of resilient problem-solvers dedicated to both the business and their personal growth.

Re-evaluate Your Post-Pandemic Strategies & Delegate Accordingly

You might reminisce about how you used to do things before Coronavirus, but moving forward means adapting to a changing landscape. View each of your processes through a COVID-19 lens and make any necessary changes to policies and procedures. Your marketing department, for example, might now need a dedicated social media manager. Your internet leads might be better managed by someone who has proven themselves more adept at handling dynamic market changes. It’s possible that the parts manager who completely designed a vehicle sanitation process should be formally trained to manage a safety and risk management operation. Ours is a world that will now require consistent review of business operations and requires a structure that supports more frequent change.

While exploring the operational improvements in this post-pandemic landscape, don’t forget to spend time reflecting upon your teams’ contributions. You can plan and restructure all you want, but if you don’t have the right people in those critical roles, you’ll fall short of success and meeting goals every time. You’ve learned a few lessons over these past few months, and your employees have, too. Identify your key players and consider making them part of any changes to your operational vision. It’s hard to identify or prepare for everything that might happen within the market, but having the right people in the right roles is a great place to start.