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Cultures Are Grown Not Bought

News and Insights July 24, 2022

By: Brooke Furniss
7 minute read

This is the first in what we hope will be an ongoing series of guest blog posts where others in the industry share their outlooks, views, and opinions of the industry at large.  

For our first post, we have Brooke Furniss, President/Founder of BZ Consultants Group and Host of Facts Not Feelings Podcast. Enjoy.

It is the dreaded reporting to management time. The night before, how many of us are throwing a bunch of crap together in an Excel or Google Sheet and hoping no one questions us? Let’s be honest. Our lips are preloaded with the classic and all-encompassing “it depends” answer! Aw, love it! 

Think about it for a hot minute, how many different reports, metrics, and data points we are trying to pull, and from how many platforms that in NO way talk to each other! There is the DMS and the CRM. Of course, sales and service are operating out of two separate systems! Why wouldn’t there be only one? That is WAY too logical. 

Speaking of CRMs, do all the links have UTM Tags or are you simply chalking up that traffic to…insert shoulder shrug emoji. Then there is the website; there are all OEM reports and Google Suite: Ads and Analytics…soon to be GA4 which currently has NO, zilch, zero, nada standardization, not to mention out-of-the-box is horrendous and absolutely worthless to dealers. 

How many have GA set up correctly so that reporting is seamless? One can’t forget our ever-important Call Tracking systems, which hopefully are set up for Sales, Service, and Parts and reads IVR versus actual human interaction and conversation. Our chat provider(s), our digital retailing tool, which now is more like digital retailing tools, plural, all our many lead providers, all the OTT/Display and/or Amazon Advertising, and any and all other third party providers, what about them? 

Did anyone check Social? Facebook challenges Quick Change Magicians for the number of outfit changes it pulls in a week! The minute you are loving a report: BAM! Changed and gone! Wait, what? It was there this morning. *Magic* Lastly, there are proprietary dashboards where we have to ensure they make sense and align with what we show. Uggg, I need to take a nap. 

The question I now pose is...

How are you holding all these vendors and business partners (yes, there is a difference) accountable?

How do you take all of this data and standardize it? How are you inspecting what you should be expecting? 

GA only goes so far, and who wants to spend hours upon hours trying to sort through all these metrics? There is an easier way. Tools like Vistadash take the guesswork out of this and level the playing field as they standardize everything and everyone, plain and simple, regardless of the solution: mic drop. This is true transparency. 

Innovation Supported By Data

Now the task is to decipher all this incredible data and turn it into actionable items by inspecting what should be expected from one's business partners and holding them accountable. From there, one can go back to their business partners and have a meaningful conversation about where to improve the process, the customer journey, who is performing and who/where one could perform better, and true ROI. How exactly do you do this? Great question. Let’s explore some ways to have those meaningful conversations.

You can now see what is working, where customers are engaging, and where products may be lacking, or what I like to call areas of improvement. Let’s take a site that you are seeing has more than the standardized 50% No Engagement Level from X provider/X tool, but maybe they are telling you all about driving all this traffic for you. Rather than the usual, you are now armed with data and facts to be able to have an intelligent conversation with them. You want to know how long it took to find the Engagement Level, a whopping 60 seconds, if you use a tool that standardized metrics. Multiple things now happen when you go bring this to your vendor’s attention:

  • They now know that YOU know your stuff and will pay more attention. This is huge!
  • This makes your conversations with your vendors way more meaningful and not one-sided.
  • You will quickly know if you have a vendor or a business partner!

Taking this one step further, sometimes you have to be a bit of a detective to find the true issue and where the water may be leaking. These standardized tools speed up this process. You may see that the advertising company is doing a great job: the Ad Copy passes with flying colors and is being directed to the correct page. However, the issue seems to be once the lead is submitted to the dealer that it is dying upon arrival. Any GM and Owner knows how much money is spent each month to deliver these customers to the store.

How many will admit when the process fails in house and are trying to buy themselves out of the problem vs trying to resolve the issue?

Before you ever slap a button on your site, bring on a new product/lead provider, or implement something new, look at the data. Shooting from the hip because one thinks it will work or it has worked in the past, is not the way to run a business in today’s world. I cannot stress the importance of this. FACTS over feelings. What do the metrics say? Does your store really need the new shiny object from the latest 20 Group? You can’t buy your way out of a bad process, so go back and see what is truly causing the issue and move forward from there. Process first!

Now that the data framework has been laid, hours and sanity have been saved by standardizing your dealership’s data and metrics. What are you doing with this time? Kicking back and enjoying a fresh cold one? Nooo?! I’m Ron Burgundy?! Let’s start at the beginning.

Innovation Supported By Culture

When building a house and pouring the foundation, it has to be solid, right? Would you move on to the next step of the process if there was a crack in the foundation? No, you would rip up the foundation, start over, and re-pour the foundation. There is no way you would ever build your home and trust your family and loved one’s life on a cracked or rotting foundation.

The same goes for business. Start with the foundation. What are the nuts and bolts of your company? To the core, who are you as a business, and what are you doing to keep it? 

Some may call this the commonly known buzzword “cultural.” The question is what is “cultural?” It is what drives people to work for you and stay with you. It is what your employees are doing when no one is looking. It causes people to not only buy from you but generations to continually gravitate to and buy from you and want to brag to their friends about their experience with your business. 

Culture goes down into the veins of who you are and cannot be changed overnight.

One cannot fake this. What do you do for your employees? How do you ensure their success and that they are a long-term employee? Do you simply throw a green pea into the deep end and say, “well, good luck…I figured it, so you should, too!”? 

What does your long-term training look like? What about your yearly reviews? Are you and the managers only checking in with the employees once a year to see how they are truly doing? Are these vital check-ins taking place when they are convenient for upper management or the employee? Are you constantly asking “why” to know more about your employees and their desires? Money is a means to an end. What is the actual driver for why they want that pay raise or title bump? 

Is communication a top priority? Are you listening with the intent to understand? Do you lead with and show empathy in your actions? Do employees know they are #1 and valued daily, monthly, and yearly? Do all departments know they are loved? 

Do your business’s benefits truly reflect your employee’s worth? Ping pong tables and nap pods are not the benefits future employees are Googling to see if you have. While these are nice perks, they are just that, perks not benefits. Does your team receive weekends or Saturdays off? Is the team still working bell to bell? What are you doing to allow your team to take a break so they can be rejuvenated when they return to work? Do you genuinely allow your team to be “off,” or are you still bothering them with texts, calls, and emails when they are on vacation? Are you celebrating the little wins along with the big wins, or is the same person being recognized every single month? Are you leading with positivity? 

Do you constantly strive to learn, grow, and evolve along with your team? If not, you’re becoming stagnant. When was the last time you saw stagnant water? Was it moving? No. Was it smelly and moldy? Yes! Was it appealing in any way? No! Are you surrounding yourself with people smarter than yourself? Do you truly understand the importance of having a diverse workplace? Are you and the management team open to suggestions? Removing the ego can be a very arduous task; however, those that do remove the ego will reap the reward a hundred fold! This is a never-ending task, and those who truly take it to the next level always remember that we all succeed when the TEAM succeeds. The client/customer will always know when the employee is happy and gravitate towards that person. Be that person. Be that business. 

The Bottom Line About Innovation and Cultural Change

Now, if you have never done an inspection into your business and suddenly want to jump on the “cultural” train, don’t be surprised when there is a flooded basement, the roof is falling apart, the wood is rotten through with termites, and the foundation was laid with cracks throughout the cement. The house will most likely have to be torn down and rebuilt. I cannot stress enough that this takes time. Be patient. It is worth it. Like Bob said, Baby Steps! Start at the beginning and pick up the hammer.

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