Best PracticesDealership Operations & Processes

Are you a “System” team or a “People” team?

A dealer owner recently caught me by surprise.

Chatting about the business, past, present and future, the conversation turned to opportunity and people. He explained that while there are opportunities “around,” without the right people to nurture and manage these opportunities, it didn’t make sense to pursue them. He then expanded upon what amounts to a very people-centric philosophy toward running his businesses.

I thought, “How rare.” 2016 marks 20 years in and around dealerships – I started selling Honda’s in 1996. I find it refreshing and rejuvenating that I can still be pleasantly surprised and learn a thing or two in the dealership.

I’ve been chewing on this for a few weeks, and with the NFL draft recently conducted, and NBA free agency in full swing, I see some parallels.

Are you a “System” team or a “People” team?

Chip Kelly – Oregon and then the Philadelphia Eagles – hell of a system! Really, based on a numbers game – up-tempo means more plays, more plays create more opportunities to score (sound familiar?)

Chip is a “System” coach. He is going to find players that fit into his system, and when he does – look out! At least for a while…

The perfect system matched with the perfect personnel for that system will be successful, at least until someone figures-out how to beat the system. And of course, the players come and go – so finding the perfect match is a constant effort.

Phil Jackson – NBA, Triangle Offense. Sure worked great with Jordan and Kobe executing! But what’s happening in NY with the Knicks? About the same level of success as the Eagles, I’m afraid.

The Triangle, the Triple-Option, the Run-and-Shoot, the Spread – all good, successful systems, for a time. And then there’s the “People” approach. In Sports, it’s the idea that you’ll take the best available talent, and coach around those talents.

Ever wonder why some teams are just always good?
Why some teams seem to have a culture of excellence and winning year after year?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are an excellent example – and as much as I don’t want to admit it – the New England Patriots. While both teams of course have systems, both organizations are renowned for creating space for their talent, coaching the people to maximize and capitalize on their talents. It’s not about finding round pegs for round holes. When there’s a square peg (or triangle, or trapezoid), you create and nurture a square space and the organization at large benefits.

I think a lot of businesses say they are people-centric. Can you imagine a business owner saying that they are not? LOL – preposterous. But how many really focus on maximizing talent vs. finding the round pegs that fit their round job descriptions? How many create an environment to systematically understand their talent vs. systematically filling the roster the system demands?

Dealerships are by and large systems operations. We’ve had largely similar processes in place for over 100 years, and we’ve been successful!! We fill our rosters with the best candidates we can find to operate the system. But has someone/something figured-out how to beat the system? Is there another game, another team that is showing us that the system has seen better days?

Are we still running the Power-I in a passing league? I love running backs too, but…the answer is obvious.

What would a people-centric approach look like in your business?

15+ years front-line, battle-hardened automotive vet, foreshadowing 7 years in automotive software construction, production, training, sales, and supp...