Guy_next_to_Car2My oldest daughter, Allison, has finished college and is ready to buy a used car.  We decided to go car shopping on Saturday. I asked her to scope out cars in her price range, that she thought she might be interested in seeing.  We set off in the morning with a plan and somewhere in the process, I realized just how much car dealers frustrate me.  I suspect it is not just me, but a large part of their clientele.

Not surprisingly, the somewhat smaller dealerships did better than the big ones.  What we experienced at the bigger ones is typical.  We were welcomed, then herded inside to a cube to a monitor that appeared to be state of the art… in the 90s… all 9 inches in full color!  We were graciously offered water or soda while we waited, which unfortunately was pretty much the only part of the process that seemed gracious.  We waited while the salesperson collected our information, sometimes on paper, sometimes in the computer, and sometimes on both.  We cringed while the salesperson hunted and pecked, capturing our important information.

It seems to me that everything about the process is contrary to valuing me as the customer.  It is all about the dealer.  Why do I have to wait while they collect information?  At this point I am unsure if they even have a car I want.  They want Allison’s license, phone number, and then proceed to make us wait while they again type.  We get all of this done, and now they sit with us and look through the same website we saw at home to find the cars we are interested in.  Then, they search the lot, either find the car or don’t, and after about 30 minutes with the dealer, we actually get to see the car and decide if we want to drive it.  I could keep going, but I am sure everyone knows how frustrating this process is.

Allison listened to me rant  and tell her how I could easily improve the buying process for car shoppers, as we drove between dealers. Then I grew a little silent.  It is so easy to criticize the car dealer.  I began to think about CTaccess.  How are we frustrating our client?  How are we making it difficult to do business with us?  These questions are certainly worth considering, and led me to these:

5 Business Killing Mistakes NOT to Make

1. Wasting our client’s time.  Time is that non-renewable resource.  It is limited, and we are all feeling that we are short of it these days.  How can we take less time from our client?  Time is necessary in some parts of a truly partnering relationship like planning and strategy, and just communicating well.  However, in the daily transactions of doing things, we should find the most efficient way to provide product and services.  How can we provide our stuff at the height of efficiency?  Can we find a way to do it without making the client wait?  Can we give them some time back?

2. Not valuing people.  This is the flip side of the coin.  In attempting to be efficient, we could lose track of the people in the process, which is a fatal mistake.  What does the study say?  Most clients quit doing business with us because they think we don’t care.  Most employees need to feel relevant and valuable as part of the team.  How can we keep our focus on people and even create systems that show people they are valued?  Do we make decisions that show our people they are important?  Do we provide them with the right tools to make them efficient?

3. Staying a slave to paper and manual processes.  If your process is highly paper based, it is time to change.  Don’t change because it is cool and looks high-tech to get rid of paper.  Change because it ALWAYS makes sense.  Paper takes more time in the long run.  It is easily lost, it wastes people’s time, it causes double-entry, it has to be stored and moved, and it is highly inefficient.  How can we move more things digitally?  How can we use technology to move things through a system to create better consistency and follow through?

4. Ignoring mobile devices.  We can no longer ignore mobile.  Not for those on our team, or our clients.  We need to be open for business from a mobile device.  Everyone uses them.  How can we allow people to interact with us efficiently from their own device?  How can they approve an order, reach out to schedule an appointment, give us feedback, or look up their account information?  How can we use mobility to give our client and our team more time or improve the way they work?

5. Undervaluing technology. Technology is often viewed as the necessary evil, and it is this viewpoint that often steals from us.  We end up trying to minimize our expenditure instead of viewing it as a tool to be properly managed and expanded.  So often manufacturers can see the value of the 1 million dollar new machine on the floor, because they can produce twice as many widgets in ½ the time.  However, investing in and properly managing technology that will make your people 10-30% more efficient in the office is viewed simply as an expense.  What can we do to invest in technology in a way that energizes how we do work every day?  Should we be self-managing or using an expert?

Well, it is back to the car dealer this week to help my daughter buy a car.  I can’t wait to learn more lessons from the experts.  Who knows maybe one of the dealers will truly surprise me!  In the meantime, I’ll take the challenge.  We have plenty to do ourselves to value our clients and team and improve how we work!

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