As the reorganization of almost everything automotive domestic occurs wholesale field operations must follow.As marching orders flow downhill, many OEM field office executives and managers are finding themselves in a somewhat rudderless environment. Oh course the pressure for dealer sales will never end. But, just how to set up the new regional and district personnel, processes and structure coming down the road for each field office for some is still a mystery for some.In preparation for a more comprehensive direction from the home office many managers are thinking about or working on the following strategies to be ready for the inevitable quick start as corporate directions disseminate.Proven strategies that have worked for some include;1. Facilitate Organizational Analysis of factors that affect branch dealer account managers, branch managers and service representatives… environmental impediments to multi-delivery.Identify sales and service process tasks, activities that do not add value or contribute to the achievement of dealer performance objectives.2. Document a Branch Process and Flow Chart Analysis for all sales and service duties/tasks, decisions, information needed, communications, and personnel job functions. Core competency analysis areas could include relationship management, investment management, transaction processing, financial engineering, teleservices, risk management, customer information capture, etc. Compare process and flow chart information with OEM dealer F&I multi-delivery process analysis… for gaps and disconnects.3. Facilitate the Multi-Delivery Change/Improvement Process by mapping the sales and service process from root cause, critical success factors, competitive advantages, and benchmark targets (internal/external) through synthesis, revision and implementation.4. Develop a Personnel Abilities Test (personality, motivation, and core skills) and assessment measurement instrument (factor analysis) for all branch sales/service personnel. We recommend this instrument be used simultaneously for hiring, training, and personnel multi-delivery assignment decisions by branches.5. Determine and measure the difference between what wholesale employees are expected to do and what they are actually doing regarding complete F&I product sales and service duties… a Needs Analysis for the new startup (new positions/functions) and diagnostic (likely causes for startup performance problems).Identify gaps and barriers in meeting sales and service skills, standards (problem solving, dealer process understanding, objectives reporting, dealer sales and service relations, etc.), and knowledge.6. Facilitate “Team” Sales and Service Performance Standards. Overall, these meetings will assist; responsibility delegation, information sharing, group consensus building, and set up a performance appraisal system and accountability reviews to meet new multi-delivery challenges… reinforce the branch cycle of multi-delivery improvements through increases in commitment, coordination, and competence.7. Facilitate “Team” Sales and Service Performance Improvement and Evaluations. After standards are confirmed this diagnostic monitor will; – Stabilize and evaluate the performance of each team, – Determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, – Outline critical success factors and the characteristics of each teams competitive advantages as they relate to their achievement to sales and service tasks, – Determine relative accountability of each team member.8. Prepare Training Recommendations for all branch sales and service personnel and management that include specific content need areas.9. Propose a national Performance Recognition Communications program that acknowledges aggregate performance measures of success, for selected service and sales personnel and teams.10. Key Account Market Measures Analysis – Establish and identify multi-delivery baseline sales volume and market features and benefits, strength or weakness criteria and probable branch product sales conquest strategies for dealers in various stages of Ford customer involvement.12. Identify and compare branch sales & service continuous improvement objectives, process and measures of performance against dealer and corporate performance criteria.With reorganization many domestic manufacturers are now in a position to do it right without the same inventory and cost pressures that existed before public investment became a reality.Ask the author for a complete strategy review.
Given the tough economic times businesses are dealing with, it is critical for senior managers to understand the trends they are facing. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day work and fail to see the trends and how they are affecting business. The survey conducted by Management Methods with responses from 19 states and over 125 senior managers identified top trends and strategic issues for businesses to consider today.Strategic Decisions, Strategies and Trends That Must Be ConsideredI. Best strategic decisions in the past 3 years1. Improved planning process in businesses2. Establishing a clear vision or direction3. DiversificationII. Worst strategic decisions in the past 3 years1. Failing to properly staff for transitions2. Not “staying the course” with new products/development /direction3. Not setting clear goals and following through on themIII. Top problems facing businesses today1. Mergers and consolidations in various industry sectors2. External forces such as regulatory/legal issues3. Off-shore competition4. Ability to obtain financing and continue long term banking relationshipsIV. The most significant long term trends1. Industry consolidations2. Off-shore competition, especially the Chinese markets3. Continuing short term targets and expectations vs. long term planning and strategies4. Increasingly difficult regulatory environment for business in the U.S. leading to higher overall costsAnalysis of the Most Significant Long Term TrendsIndustry consolidations have been occurring and appear to be on the upswing as we’re dealing with the 2008-2009 recession. From banking to automotive to refining to gasoline distribution to making tape to healthcare to automotive suppliers to electronics there is no let-up in the sweeping changes due to consolidations. This is being manifested in the workplace with more employee instability and fear of job loss. Effective leaders will recognize the situations internally and work to keep strong communications lines open within the organization as well as with customers and suppliers.Off-shore competition is affecting almost every business in the U.S. today; whether it is in direct competition in the marketplace or in competition for raw materials and components. The reality is that American Industry must become even more competitive in the face of increased competition and in cases where the competition is not on a level playing field. It is imperative that organizations rethink their vision; develop visionary strategic plans and reality driven operating plans. Then execute the plan throughout the organization.The increasingly difficult regulatory environment is here to stay. So, what can we do in our businesses? Insure that we have the processes in place to identify all legal and other requirements that affect our businesses; and, then conduct planned compliance reviews. When non-compliances are identified get them into our corrective action systems for immediate follow-up. This will keep us one step ahead and enable us to prevent major issues related to compliance. (Note: this process is a requirement under ISO 14001:2004.)What these trends mean for your business, or “What should I do now?”1. Identify where you may have weaknesses in internal communications and with your customers and suppliers. Make renewed efforts to effectively communicate what’s happening in your industry and more specifically in your business. Do it systematically and often. In fact, communicate, communicate, and communicate!2. Have your senior management team review the vision for your business. Does it fit the reality of today? Update your strategic plans and operational plans. An effective strategic plan does not have to be a “book,’ but rather a simple plan that will guide your business along the path to being the low cost, high quality producer in your industry. Execute your plans!3. Given the regulatory compliance issues of today, the ISO 14001:2004 process is an essential link in environmental compliance. As well, the OHSAS 18001 standard can provide a roadmap in the area of safety. We strongly recommend these. However, at a minimum each business needs to have a systematic approach to compliance reviews and follow-up.Be a leader in your industry by recognizing the long term trends and taking the necessary actions to position your business to thrive in the new era of today.
Finding a business that can endure today’s economic recession can be tricky. People are tightening their belts more today than in the past fifty years. We are seeing businesses close down, CEO’s being replaced, and some rather substantial cost-cutting measures, including salaries and employment. So you have to ask yourself what companies are thriving? Which ones are going to make it and which ones won’t?No, I am not an economist, but it has been my experience that whenever belt’s are tightened, people start to think of themselves first and others second. In other words we start to focus on our basic human needs and worry less about luxury items. Let’s consider the effect the recession is having in a few key human-centric areas:Food: Eating out at restaurants is diminishing, particularly the high priced establishments. In my area of Florida alone, over 35 restaurants have closed their doors recently. Not surprising, people are more inclined to cook at home, which means boom-times for value priced items. For example, I understand sales of Hormel’s SPAM product are way up. With this in mind, I wonder when the Food Channel will replace some of their gourmet shows with a show featuring something like, “Cooking on a budget.”Health: Drugs are still doing fine, but people are more inclined to buy generic as opposed to name brands. We will probably see a sharp decline in cosmetic or elective surgery, but we will still need to replace hips, hearts, knees, and other vital parts of our bodies. I have a friend who manufactures titanium hips and knees. He tells me business couldn’t be better.Transportation: As we all know, new car sales are way down which means people are trying to extend the lives of their current vehicles. This means companies selling auto parts should be prospering, as well as independent mechanics offering competitive prices. The airlines will always be viewed as a necessary evil but for any of them to succeed, they have to streamline their operations.Communications: I think cell phones will hold steady, but look for people to change or eliminate their land lines. I have also seen a lot of people cut down on the pay channels on television, as well as their ISP connections.Housing: Like the automotive industry, sales have stagnated which means people are trying to make do with what they have. And like the automotive after-market, look for the sale of home improvement items to increase, particularly those products designed to save energy and money. This should be boom times for basic hardware stores.Education: Private schools will be hurt by the recession as people will be more inclined to send their kids to affordable public schools. This includes state universities over private colleges.In a nutshell, the companies that will succeed are those that address the basic needs of the human being with no frills attached. Luxury items, such as electronics will struggle in the meantime.But success will also require companies to manage smarter than what they have been doing. They have to think faster to seize opportunities, be more organized and disciplined in their operations, and be more adaptive to change. In other words I think you’ll see a “no frills” management style emerge as companies fight to survive. Those companies with bloated bureaucracies and micromanagers will have to be cut down to size in order to manage smarter.So, what company is recession-proof? That which addresses basic human needs and is managed so the company can turn on a dime without missing a beat.