Solutions Service Management System

A money – saving Service Management System that can either stand alone or be completely integrated into the full Dealer Management System – Solutions Software. Senior Service Consultant Jon Parks along with the IT development team have built this technology that creates RO’s, orders parts while finding the best price, and has them delivered to your shop all without lifting up the phone. It stores and tracks parts and a good deal more. It is powered by Epicor and has Mitchell 1 labor included.  Call Jon today and he can answer your questions, 941-270-4377, or preview the video below to see the power of this amazing system.

Compliance- AKA the “Rules”

As a small business owner and operator, you know it can be tough keeping up on what’s going on in your business, much less what is going on in the world around you. Its easy to be misled by sensational articles about different state and local agencies, a well federal ones, assigning new regulations and levying fines. But not all articles are just sensational hype, these agencies do enforce the “Rules”.

So how do you find time to address all the “Rules”. Which rules are more important than others? What are the risks involved in not following a “Rule”? How much are typical fines for a particular item? And, most importantly, how do you know where best to spend your time.

The good news is that most of the time you spend on Compliance at your company is simply a systematic look at how YOU, the owner and operator, wish to have things done, and communicating these to your associates.  

  • In order to meet the objectives of the company, there must be a systematic approach to each task.
  • There can be no accountability for completing a task when the company’s objectives are not clear.

There is help! Over the next few posts, I will be pointing you to several places that will not cost you any more to keep abreast of the ever-changing world of the “Rules”.

The first place that you may or may not know about is the State Independent Dealer Associations. These Associations often do a wonderful job of keeping an eye on new legislation and regulations being considered. They usually have a way to let the state bodies express the wishes of the Independent dealers.

According to the NIADA (https://www.niada.com/state_affiliates.php) website:

“NIADA has a well-established nationwide group of federated State Associations that each operate independently of each other but work together for a united cause. At the heart of our collective effort is the drive to maintain strong national and state dealer associations, better serve the interests of the public, provide educational opportunities for our members and preserve a strong legislative and regulatory presence that protects independent dealers from unnecessary litigation, rule-making or legislation that would prohibit them from serving their customers and the public fairly and honestly.  When you join your state association, you automatically become a member of NIADA as well.”

From this website, one may find links to their state association.  Many of the state websites offer monthly blogs, free dealer classes, sales tax help as well as free copies of dealer state specific manuals.

In my next blog, I will discuss some other great resources for you to use when considering Compliance.

There will be further discussion on this and many other issues you face at our National Dealer Seminar in Clearwater Florida, February 19 and 20, 2019. For more information on this seminar, please click on the Seminar tab at the top of our website. https://www.afsdealers.com/seminar.a5w#page-top

Joyce Guest, February 8th, 2019

List Making

Of all the tools we have at our disposal as managers, list making is probably the single most important tool for improving the productivity of your associates, as well as yourself.  I encourage not only managers, but all associates to become disciplined list makers.  There is usually so much work to be done it is impossible to rely on our memory to keep track of what needs done.  That’s when things start to fall through the cracks and get overlooked.  Making a list of things to do for each associate and ourselves must become part of our daily routine.  So where do we start?

We start by making a master list – an all-encompassing list of tasks to be done.  Anything we see or think of should be recorded on our master list – even the smallest of details.   Routinely walk your lot, your facility, inspect the offices and work areas of your associates and list all items you see needing attention.

From that master list, we can prioritize our tasks.  What needs to be done today?  What must be accomplished within the next week, the next month, the next quarter, etc.  The next step is to determine who is to perform the task, as well as when and where the work should be done.  Keep in mind that list making requires more than just writing down things to do.  The art of list making is methodically planning the day’s workload to encourage the associate to work at a quicker pace therefore accomplishing more, without overloading them with unreasonable expectations of what can be accomplished in a certain period.  Too few items on the list doesn’t usually challenge our associate to improve their performance while too many items can create a sense of defeat before they ever get started.  There are many benefits to good list making techniques.

  • The master list is a comprehensive never-ending list of things to do. I’m a bit old school – give me a pen and a legal pad, and then turn me loose.  Some folks choose to maintain their master list electronically on their phone or tablet.   The point is not the means, but the results.   Ultimately, I want to make a daily work list that will challenge my associate but can be accomplished in one day.
  • Prioritize what needs done now and what can wait. Decide who needs to do what and then make a list for each associate.
  • Meet with each associate, review their daily work list and communicate expectations. Make sure my associate clearly understands what is expected of them.
  • Make sure he or she has the training and the tools needed to complete their daily list.
  • Periodically follow up and communicate with each associate throughout the day assessing their performance, helping them overcome obstacles, praising their good work and providing feedback on the areas where they have struggled or failed to meet expectations.
  • At that time also discuss what could have been done differently to influence the outcome.
  • Require them to mark off each item when completed and return the list to you at the end of the day. Take time to acknowledge their accomplishments and question the unfinished tasks.  Let them tell you the challenges they encountered that prevented them from completing the list.
  • Usually any unfinished items carry over to the following day and at the top of the list, so the associate knows the priority is to finish what didn’t get done the previous day before starting on the new list of things to do.
  • As items are completed, mark them off your master list. As you are marking things off the list, you are also adding new tasks to your list.
  • Once a week (I chose Saturday morning), tear out all pages and start a fresh list, carrying over the unfinished items.
  • List making provides opportunities for associates to show what they know and can do, while at the same time identify opportunities for improvement, which also identifies areas where we as managers can improve our training and development of our associates.
  • There is an art to list making and my experience is that few managers really maximize the value of making a work list for their associates, as well as themselves.

Make no mistake, there are managers out there who do well despite being poor list makers.  But realize that they probably work harder and longer hours than needed, and their associates probably are not as well trained, and the entire lot may be lacking in discipline.  But also understand that those managers who have the discipline to make good, thoughtful work lists day after day will have more success, less turnover, and better trained associates who can be promoted.

The choice is yours – you can become proficient at planning and writing good work lists and enjoy increased success, or you can choose to ignore this incredibly simple but effective tool and make your job and that of your associates more difficult than needed.

Make the commitment to become an effective list maker.  Do the things it takes to make sure your associates are productive every minute they are on the clock.  Do these things now so that you are better equipped to manage more staff, more customers and more profit as your business grows.

Finally, know undoubtedly the habits you are developing today will have a tremendous impact on your future and that of your associates.

-Eddie Hight, November 16th, 2018

Big Adventure!

Change makes everybody a little apprehensive, nervous, scared, whatever term you might want to use. Some people let it make them lose focus on everything else. Somehow folks got the impression that change equaled “BAD”. However, over the years I have learned not to make up my mind too quickly.

It’s like starting a new job. Everyone is not on their “A game” everyday. Additionally, some folks just don’t trust the new guy easily. Usually it takes a while to really get to know a person, and goes for both sides, you and them.

Another mistake is passing judgement too quickly on new things. When Windows first came out, I ignored it saying, “It’s just a passing phase.” Boy was I wrong! A couple of years later, I was way behind and had to catch up quickly. This made learning it so much more difficult.

Then came along cell phones and “Smart phones”. Some folks thought the phone was good enough and did not want to change. But as technology changed, they were forced to. These days, who would be anywhere without their smart phone?

Along come changes at work. The initial thought is “WHY??” But, again, change is not bad. Maybe a new leader, procedure, idea, job title, etc. is going to be “Great!”, but how will one know if it is not given a chance?

In all these examples, the “change” puts people out of their “COMFORT ZONE”. And we just do not like it. We are comfortable knowing everyone around us, knowing how to follow routine, knowing how to do what is needed, and, knowing how to use the tools provided.

Almost every time like throws me a new curve, it has been for the better! Look at getting out of your comfort zone as something new and exciting! Old routines can get to be, well, just boring. Take on new challenges willingly! Look at new situations, ideas, technology, ect., as a big adventure! Being nervously excited is part of the adventure. Take a deep breath, do it again, now move forward. That’s the first step.

-Joyce Guest, November 2nd, 2018

What’s The Problem?

Lightbulb on blackboard idea bubble

Some days it’s more like “what’s NOT the problem”! Of the many hats we wear daily as owner/operators or managers, the Problem Solver hat often occupies much more of our time than needed.

Consider the following questions:

  • Do I have the right associates in the right positions?
  • Are my associates adequately trained considering their tenure?
  • Have I empowered them to make decisions within the boundaries set for them?
  • Have I created a culture in which my associates aren’t afraid to make a mistake (customer service withstanding) without fear of reprimand?
  • Can my business function smoothly if I am unreachable for one week?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you my friend are the problem. As your business grows, so does your staff, inventory, customer base, and sometimes your facility. When you feel that you must make all the decisions, or at least be in control of the outcome of decisions, you become a bottleneck that slows associate productivity and stifles associate growth.

There are problems that only you can solve; decisions that only you can make. Those belong to you and no one else. But train your associates to handle the problems that are inherent to their position, establish the boundaries within which they can freely make decisions. Then provide routine follow up.

As owners or managers, we can get in our own way and make things more difficult than necessary. I can’t speak to their validity, but I want to close with some humorous but very real examples of how management can allow a problem to become much larger than the solution.

In the early days of our space program, NASA discovered normal pens would not work in space. They subsequently spent years and millions of dollars developing a pen that would write on any surface under any condition. Russia simply chose to use pencils.

A rather sizable Japanese cosmetic company received a consumer complaint that a couple of the boxes purchased contained no product (which happened to be bars of soap) inside the box. Management demanded immediate action and the engineers implemented a high definition X-ray machine monitored by two associates, to see inside the boxes as they passed by on the line.

A rank and file associate questioned the need for such an elaborate and time-consuming process and asked he could have a crack at it. He returned with a pedestal fan, plugged it in, faced it towards the production line and turned it on high. A $40 fan accomplished the same thing as the X-Ray machine for a fraction of the cost. I can list a few examples that relate directly to your business, but you get the idea…

  • Train your associates
  • Establish boundaries
  • Empower your associates
  • Get out of their way and allow them to do their job, so you have the time to do yours!

Training and empowering your associates will!

-Eddie Hight, June 8th, 2018