Learning to Stay Competitive
Four Guidelines to Optimize Standards Management and Boost Dealer Performance

Take a close look at any highly successful dealer network and you’ll find it is operating with a strong approach to Standards Management, one that delivers the right tools to consistently adhere to corporate standards.  As we face a growing array of economic challenges, now is the time to ensure that you are moving ahead with a system that is flexible, reliable, and cost effective.

1. Know world-class standards management when you see it.

Standards are rules for the behaviors an automotive company wants to see in each of their outlets.  Typically, standards address the facility, sales approach, and advertising. They are important to manufacturers because they provide consumers with a consistent brand experience at the retail level and establish a basis for improving dealer performance.  But the standards themselves are just part of the mix.

Once the standards are established, an audit identifies any deficiencies within the dealer network.  An audit based upon the corporate standards can determine if actual performance lives up to expectations.  The failure of Standards Management has historically fallen into three areas:  1) quantity of the standards; 2) how standards are measured; and 3) the frequency of data collection and how much it costs.

2. Understand that not everything is important.

The adage “If everything is important, nothing is important” applies perfectly to standards management. With an overabundance of standards, it is all too easy to lose focus on the ones that make a definitive impact.

To avoid this pitfall, companies should examine their standards and rank each from high to low in terms of their importance, and categorize each standard in terms of reinforcing the brand or boosting brand/dealer performance.

And be careful you are collecting more than Yes/No answers for compliance.  These are easier to collect, but it is statistically difficult to determine which of the standards actually improve performance based upon a simple Yes/No answer.  Instead, consider other measures such as a scale from 1 to 5 in terms of compliance.

3. Make sure you are measuring what you want to achieve.

Success rides on your ability to align your intent with what you measure. Let’s say a standard is to answer a phone in five rings. Does compliance give you absolute confidence that the intent – to increase customer satisfaction by being responsive to the customer– actually demonstrates that the standard and intent are aligned? Probably not. Just make certain about what it is you are striving for with each standard, and then measure accordingly.

The ideal approach will have not just one, but numerous ways to collect compliance data. Which leads us to the fourth guideline.

4. Go with the most efficient data collection solution you can find.

Traditionally, the collection of standards data has been expensive, and sometimes cost prohibitive on an ongoing basis. The answer is to efficiently collect data through a variety of means, including dealers, field personnel, and external auditors, and then throw in mystery shoppers for verification. This takes a standards management system that is flexible, reliable, and cost effective.

Can your current system conduct multiple surveys in various areas with a variety of means of access?  Who does it and how do they go about it? Is your system reliable and available any time, from any device? And finally, the big test: what is your ROI?

The system you choose to implement should be able to accelerate data collection and reporting dramatically.

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