I believe in servant leadership. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, Robert K. Greenleaf said “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.”
Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. You can apply this methodology to any generation you’re leading to create a culture of inclusion and ownership over what their core job is. This brings me to an interesting question I’ve been pondering over the last year as I’ve spoken to hundreds of dealers of all sizes…
Who’s in charge?
Traditionally, there is a hierarchy in any company that puts a chain of command in place. Sales rep reports to sales manager, sales manager reports to store manager, store manager reports to upper management, upper management reports to owner. On paper this is how most companies appear. However, this is not how many companies are actually ran. Many of the dealers that I have come across try to emulate servant leadership but in reality leadership falls by the wayside and management has become a servant to the sales rep. An unfortunate byproduct of having a mentality that permeates throughout the industry of “I can’t get my people to use anything” or “I’m afraid my top producer who’s responsible for $750k of my revenue, will leave”. I am not advocating to push out a top producer because well, they’re a top producer and the more of them you have enables you to scale vertically instead of horizontally. What I am saying is that top producer shouldn’t be holding, as the owner, your feet to the fire when their name is not on the door and they’re ultimately not responsible for the companies longevity.
– Change is necessary for you to thrive in the world we now live in where information is literally at our fingertips.
This brings me to change. Change is difficult for most people. Change is necessary for you to thrive in the world we now live in where information is literally at our fingertips. Competitors are knocking on your doors from independent dealers down the road, Home Depot, Lowe’s and a relatively newcomer who you will see take more market share in Wayfair. What’s great about this kind of change is it will effect everybody in your organization in a positive way. After the initial pushback (there always is when a change is made), you now have the ability to shape the company to fit the modern customer experience. If you’re still worries about your top producer leaving, that production can be replaced by processes. Processes that as the owner, you now have the ability to implement because you are leading and people will follow a leader.
Gary Vaynerchuk has a saying, the quickest way for you to go out of business is for you to romanticize the way you do business. Embrace change, don’t fight it. Implement a sales process that is repeatable. Modernize you’re showroom experience. Last but not least, take back your store and be a leader, not a servant.