Most businesses only consider change when things aren't going well. But proactive change is actually a regular habit of successful dealerships.
Just ask Kelly Webb Roberts, president of Webb Automotive, a five-dealership group in Chicago. Roberts was recently featured in Automotive News' list of "40 Under 40 Retail" for her accomplishments in growing her business. Under her leadership, the company has acquired three new stores, upgraded its technology, and quadrupled its revenues. For most dealerships, these types of major changes can be overwhelming. Leaders like Webb Automotive, however, overcome the fear of change by focusing on the positive, selecting the right technology partners, and by preparing carefully.
Emphasize the Positive Results of Change
The first step toward overcoming the fear of change is to emphasize the positive results of that change. Many dealerships are using outdated technologies and, as a result, are likely to experience significant efficiency improvements after changing systems. It's important to stay focused on those improvements rather than getting hung up on the challenges associated with converting systems.
Roberts used this simple trick at Webb Automotive while pursuing an aggressive technology upgrade. When the company converted from a legacy DMS, for example, she kept the focus on future efficiency. "The DMS shouldn't be such a burden. I feel like in the past it's bogged people down," she explained. "I wanted our staff to have a system that is there to support them and make them efficient."
Counter Fear with Preparation
Within dealerships, people fear technology change because it breeds uncertainty and creates extra work. Thorough preparation can help alleviate both concerns and ultimately, make change seem less intimidating. Preparation can come in the form of careful transition planning and advanced system training.
Before the switch took place, Webb Automotive employees participated in online and onsite trainings with the new system. "Doing the online training prior to the install for the staff was really key because it eased their fears about the switchover," explained Roberts. "Before we went live, they were able to play in a sandbox environment with the DMS."
Choose Tech Vendors that Emphasize Support
Finding a partner committed to comprehensive support can also help ease the fears associated with a technology transition. Most employees are just as worried about their learning curve after a transition as they are about the change itself, so providing a smooth implementation process isn't enough. Customer service and technical support need to go far beyond implementation day. The ability to lean on those support resources helped members of the Webb Automotive team. "If you felt uneasy about something, they were there for you," recalled Lisa Casalina, the group's office manager. Webb team members frequently use the Dealertrack help Wiki and can call the company's help line at any time for quick, personalized help.
Making major changes within a dealership can be unnerving, but Roberts is glad that her company didn't let fear get in the way of technology transitions. With a new DMS in place, her employees are happier and more efficient. "I wish I would have switched sooner for our whole entire group," Roberts admits.