In the Fog

Burying his mom was the hardest thing he had had to do since…well, since burying his dad 25 years earlier.

Now, 6 days post-funeral he is back in the office.  He thinks to himself, “Things seem so clear…” but everyone around him is thinking, “His head is not quite right yet.”  And why should it be?  6 days ago he stood beside his brothers and sisters as they lowered the matriarch of the family, the most constant and consistent part of their lives, into the ground alongside their dad.  Things were different.  They were orphans now.

He has been about his work since his return, glad to have the distraction however there is no escaping those moments when he is alone with his thoughts.  Thoughts that don’t just creep up on him, they rush his mind like an invading army of Huns.

He is solid; mentally, emotionally, spiritually tough.  The way his mom was.  One of the traits that they had in common.  One of the many.  Mom was caring, but transparent.  You knew that she loved you, but you also knew what she thought about you, your friends, your choices…  That integrity, the fact that right or wrong you knew where you stood with her, was a turnoff to some but he had always found it refreshing.  He thought to himself, “Mom’s integrity, dad’s charm.  A golden combination.”foggy-cemetery-01032017

He hadn’t been sleeping well since the funeral, but he found himself feeling well-rested.  Since mom died on Christmas Day, the year-end business that had to be done was a week behind so there was some stress in his world however, he found that in spite of the presence of stress he wasn’t necessarily “stressed”.  This had not been the case just 7 days ago.

So now he is wondering if he is in a fog?  Nah!  He knew the difference between “intensity” and just being “tense”.  He is aware of his circumstances, he knows what needs to be done and what has to be done, and he knows the difference.  He knows you can maintain your “edge” without being “edgy”.

Clarity of mind and purpose; this was his meditation each day, and he felt as clear about where he was and where he was headed as he had in a long, long time.

But he also realizes that you can achieve clarity within the fog.

  • Big Wave Davedavid on Sea-doo
  • Trainer-Mentor-Coach
  • (469) 939-0410 Mobile
  • dscarguytx@gmail.com

Have a Plan?

worst-of-2016

No matter how your 2016 went (or didn’t go) the question we all have to ask ourselves is, “What is my plan to make 2017 better than 2016?”

Maybe your 2016 was a matter of being out-performed by the competition.  Maybe 2016 could have been better if you had anticipated some critical changes to your industry or the market, and had been better prepared.

Maybe 2016 is a blur for you because you weren’t paying attention for one reason or the other.

Regardless of how you feel about your 2016 if you don’t have a plan for 2017 you are probably going to get more of the same.

We’re not talking about making New Years resolutions, we’re talking about figuring out what “success” is going to look like for you in 2017 and developing a strategy for realizing that success.

  1. Where do you want to be at the end of 2017?
  2. What do you want to have at the end of 2017?
  3. What do you have to do in 2017?
  4. What do you want to do in 2017?
  5. Who’s assistance is necessary for your success in 2017?
  6. Who do you need to get out of your way in 2017?
  7. What obstacles are in your way in 2017?
  8. What advantages do you have on your side in 2017?

Hope is not a strategy.  If we are going to get what we want, live the life that we want, have the relationships that we want in 2017 we are going to have to have a game plan.

Not only do we have a have a strategy, we have to have the skills necessary to execute that strategy, so part of our plan for 2017 needs to be ways that we intend to sharpen our skills and abilities.

Essentially, we have to figure out what it takes to get what we want and do those things every day.  We can’t take a day off from living into our purpose and executing our plan.

  • Big Wave Davedavid on Sea-doo
  • Trainer-Mentor-Coach
  • 469-939-0410 Mobile
  • dscarguytx@gmail.com

JANUARY 1: LESSONS LEARNED THROUGH DRAMATIC CHANGE

There were many changes for the Simpson’s in 2016.  At the beginning of the year I was the Regional Sales Manager for GM Financial; the finance arm for General Motors.  I was responsible for 187 dealers across 5 states and 5 area reps.  The job entailed a lot of travel and being in a different car dealership every day.  When I accepted this position my strategy was to build relationships with my dealers that would result in an opportunity to eventually become a General Manager.  With my territory being the Midwest, I anticipated my opportunity to be a GM to be somewhere in the Midwest as well.

At the end of the Summer last year both of my kids left to go to their perspective colleges, so Jan and I effectively became “empty-nesters”.  Having raised our kids to this point in their lives ran parallel to Jan and I achieving this point in our lives where we could accept the right position at the right dealership regardless of where it was in the country.

I flew to several dealership interviews from one side of the country to the other, and once I had made up my mind of where we were going and who we were going to work for things moved pretty quickly.  I packed everything I needed and left Jan in Dallas to get my kids off to their colleges and to pack up our apartment in preparation for a relocation.  I arrived at my new store on a Friday morning, and by 11:00 I knew I had made the wrong choice.

A week later I got on an airplane and flew back to Dallas.  Before I left the dealership parking lot I made a phone call and accepted another GM position in another part of the country.  I called Jan from the airport with the news, “Don’t stop packing, but we’re going someplace else.”  I spent the next week helping Jan pack and the next Sunday I was on another airplane headed to our new opportunity in Maryland.  That Tuesday I started my next new career at my current store.  Walking into the conference room to meet my new staff, I knew in an instant that I was home.

In the 4 months since I accepted my current position, the store I manage has made a 180 degree turn, Jan and I are closer than ever, my kids are learning how to be self-sufficient, and I am finding things out about myself that I could not have learned in any other context.

figure-playing-basketballThe first day of the new year is a great time for introspection and reflection, and looking back I am so proud of the way Jan and I have embraced this new road we are on.  I am thinking this morning of the lessons that I learned along the way.

 

 

  1. Don’t lose focus on your goals, regardless of your circumstances or your geography
  2. The most important asset in any ones life is the quality of the relationships we make along the way
  3. We are capable of more than we think we are if we focus our efforts on our strengths and passions, and are willing to do the work and invest the time
  4. A person is never too old or too stuck to reinvent themselves into the person that they know that they can be
  5. Making a mistake is never fatal, staying in those circumstances becasue it’s easier than risking another mistake is the reason most people are dissatisfied with their lives

 

  • Big Wave Davesimpson-seadoo
  • David Simpson
  • Trainer-Mentor-Coach
  • (469) 939-0410 Mobile
  • bigwavedave@oictraining.com

Service Advisors: Connecting with the Customer

Service Advisors:  Connecting with the Customer

When my son was 5-years old and in kindergarten his teacher called my wife and asked her if we could come in and have a meeting about him.  We had no idea what the meeting was about, our son was rambunctious and active, like a healthy, and happy 5-year old should be, so we went imagining the worse, as young parents do.  The meeting was a lot of fun; sitting in chairs made to accommodate a kid 3 feet tall with a cheery old lady who spoke to us like we were 5-years old ourselves.

She told us that she had filled out the appropriate paperwork, and had all the signatures required for us to take our son to our doctor and have him tested for A.D.H.D. (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).   At this time, because we had recently moved to the town where we now live, we didn’t have a local doctor, so we asked her for a recommendation and she gave us the name of a doctor that she knew treated several children in the school there where she taught.  We made the appointment and took him in, filled out the new-patient paperwork and were shown into an examining room.

When the doctor walked in, he was looking at Jake’s chart and didn’t look up at us for several moments.  When he finally did, he shook our hands and watched Jake sitting on the examining table, bouncing up and down, rattling that paper that they put on the cushioned surface, kicking his legs…the doctor just watched him as he told us about the A.D.H.D. symptoms and all the consequences associated with it.  He was still talking to my wife and I as he went over, put his hands on Jake’s neck to feel his nodes or whatever, pulled out his stethoscope and listened to his heart, tested his reflexes with his triangular mallet; he did all this without saying a word to Jake, who hadn’t been to the doctor in his young memory and might have been freaked out.

The doctors diagnosis was as expected and he excused himself from the room to go get his prescription pad.  When he left the room I said to my wife, “I don’t like him at all. “

My wife asked, “Why not?  I have talked to several people and he is a great doctor.”

“I bet he is, but I don’t want a doctor working on my son who doesn’t like kids.” I replied.

Just like that, this doctor who went onto to write a book about pediatrics and A.D.H.D. almost lost a patient, a buyer, because he did not connect with us on the appropriate level.

How many times on the service drive to we treat our customers like that doctor treated us?  He was diligent to go about his work, but I never got the feeling that he cared.

We have to do several things to send the appropriate message to our customers that we really do care.  Here are a few of them:

  • Greet them promptly (within 30-seconds of entering the service drive) with a warm smile and an introduction
    • I say, “Hi, I am David Simpson, and you are…”  What brings you in today?”  I don’t say the word “help”, or “service”.  If they are here for maintenance, I am complimentary.  If they are in for service, I am empathetic.
  • Make 1 compliment about the vehicle as you walk around it
      • “This is a great looking Camry.  How long you had it?”
      • “It sure looks like you keep your vehicles nice and clean.”
  • Ask plenty of questions related to how and what they feel is or isn’t happening rather than what they know or don’t know is wrong.
      • “How does it sound when it is doing that?”
      • “Do you feel it shaking at all when you make turns?”
      • “Does the vehicle feel like it is going to die?”
      • “Can you feel that in the front or more towards the rear of the vehicle?”
  • Set the expectation
      • Verbalize what is going to happen next
      • Verbalize what the expense is going to be, if any
      • Ask for permission to continue
  • Do not use the word “Diagnostic” or “Diagnose”
      • Replace with “Inspection” or “Test”.

It’s the little things that we do that make the big difference.  The first impression is the most important.  Let’s get used to using the appropriate language that engages the customer and lets them know that we really do care.

Stay green.

David Simpson

Amateur vs. Professional

(click link above for printable poster)

One of my very good friends owns an electrical service company, one of the best in the nation based on volume, located here in North Texas where we live.  He and I met when my son joined his son’s baseball team a couple of years ago.  You can tell a lot about a parent by the way their kids treat them, and that tells you a lot about the kid as well.  Long before I got to know my buddy, Mark, I knew that I liked his son.  He is a leader, works hard at practice, treats his teammates with respect, controls his emotions…he’s just a quality human, not to mention a very good baseball player.

As Mark and his wife became friends with Jan and I, I could tell that the “apple didn’t fall far from the tree”.  He and his wife are just good, genuine people who are always looking for a way to be of service to the people around them.   That “servant” attitude has been the common denominator in his company’s success too, by the way.   Once he found out what I did, the training that I had been doing in dealerships focusing on more than just creating profits, following a proce, but internalizing that effort to become a more quality person wholly, he asked me to look at his operation and think of ways that we could work together and apply what I had been doing in the automotive industry to the electrical service industry.

He set up space in his headquarters where I could office, and made me a part of his operation.  I was instantly accepted by his people, who were all looking for ways to improve in their craft.  That is the culture that he had developed over the years; “We are all growing together as individuals, and [consequently] as an organization.”

There is a sign in the conference room where his technicians, dispatchers, managers and foremen meet every day that says, “Amateurs practice till they get it right, professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.”

In a service industry like that, where people need something fixed, that is still the common denominator in the best companies; practice.  Professional sports are always a great example of the need to continually practice (prior to game time) and get better at executing the mission of the team, the game plan.  It always boils down to the fundamentals, the basics.

In sales, we differentiate ourselves as an industry from service industries; however think about how many things we have in common?  In the service industry, they know the need going in, that is why they have been called to a person’s house, or why a customer is in their service drive.  The “needs awareness” is obvious so providing “needs satisfaction” is a little easier.  There still has to be value established though; value in the technician, the service itself, and the organization, or people will look for someone else to pay for that service.

In the sales industry “needs awareness” is not as obvious; sometimes it is actually kept from us, because our customer’s don’t want to yield any room for negotiating, or because the customer is afraid that “needs awareness” will result in them being taken advantage of.  That is the thing that sets sales professionals apart from service professionals; our ability to identify needs and attach value to our ability to satisfy that need.

My question for you is this, are you an amateur or a professional?  Are you practicing your presentation until you get it right, or are you practicing it till you can’t get it wrong?  Objection handling, interview, rebuttals,…are you so good at these that you can’t be beat, or are you good enough that you can do it most of the time?

Be professional; that investment in yourself will translate into you earning the right to be successful .   That is the reason that professionals are successful, and able to ask for payment for their efforts because their investment in their skills, their craft, has given the right to refuse defeat, and to be paid to do what they do.  Amateurs lose their amateur status when they receive payment for what they do.  Some of you need to start working towards losing your amateur status.

Stay green.

David Simpson

THE MAIN THING

My wife is worried about me about being too “deep” in my sales training. Now, she has never been in the training I provide for dealerships, however I do teach and speak in places and at events where she does attend.  She has this vision of what I do at dealerships, and she is afraid that bringing the same “life lessons” that I would when speaking at a school or civic function might be considered inappropriate.

By the way, to give you some context, for the past 15 years my wife has spent her Summers traveling the Southwest, and speaking at high schools to young women in leadership, giving them the social skills and disciplines that they will need to be effective mentors and influences within their schools and communities.  I say that to say, she knows what it is to have the responsibility of being in a position to influence individuals and to promote relationships.

It IS a responsibility.  Just like I learned, and now I instruct, when you have earned the right, or at least been given the opportunity to influence an individual and a relationship, that is a BIG responsibility.  And you don’t have to be standing in front of a room full of people to feel the weight of that responsibility, it happens to us in retail everyday.

It does not take but one significant setback in our lives to cast a spotlight on the fact that the only things in our lives that are truly significant are relationships.  When the money’s dried-up, when every thing around us is falling apart; it is relationships that give us the strength to stand up and the motivation to keep moving forward when all seems lost.

I tell my friends all the time, especially when I am doing group training, that if I go too “over the top” to rein me in, and no one has stopped me yet.  The reason why is that, like my daddy used to say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  No matter what your vocation, our purpose is to relate to one another, build each other up, hold each other up and sometimes pick each other up.  And you know what?

People will pay to do business with someone who knows how to keep the “main thing” the “main thing”. 

Stay green!

DAILY ONE-ON-ONES

It sounded like good instruction at the time, but how many of us have made the time to execute on the daily one-on-ones? 

There is something about the psychology of the act; going to your people’s offices and sitting down across from them at their desks.  It is an act of respect, it is an act of caring.  Your people will care about your customer’s the way they feel you care about them; that is a fact.

Friday, I left the GM’s with an article that I had about FedEx and the CEO of FedEx, Fred Smith, who had a philosophy regarding how he managed his staff, “P-S-P; People-Service-Profit”.

The story goes on about how when FedEx purchased Flying Tigers Shipping, they chartered a 747 and flew Forrest Green, the CEO of the recently purchased company, to Memphis, TN, the location of the FedEx headquarters, to see if he wanted to relocate.  When he stepped off the plane, there was a red carpet, and a welcoming committee led by the mayor of Memphis along with dozens of cheering FedEx employees.

Green remembers thinking, “When an organization purchases a company, they are not obligated to give you a job, and here they were offering not only me a job, but every single employee of our company a job.”

When FedEx discontinued much of their service to Europe and reduced it’s work force from 9,200 to 2,600, they took out a full page ad in several European news papers urging employers to hire ex-FedEx employees.  In Belgium alone, 80 companies responded with more than 600 job offers.

It’s not even reasonable to think that our employees would treat our customers any differently than we treat our employees.  So, how do we want our customers treated?  With respect?  Dignity?  What are we doing to promote those feelings in our own people?

Daily one-on-ones is a good start.  It’s as easy as 5-6 minutes and 2 questions, “What have you got going on today?” and, “What can I do to help?”

Also, when you do have to address challenges with your people, the context is set for a positive meeting, thereby a positive outcome.  Personally, using a management principle that I got from my father, the only time I would take a sales person or manager into my office everyone knew that something bad was going to happen, and consequently in my last 3 years managing a store, I only had to take someone into my office 3 times.

This is a top-down philosophy.  It starts with the GM managing sales managers, sales managers managing sales people, F&I directors managing FSM’s.  The little things always make the biggest difference!

If you want to take your people from being employees to being disciples, you have to practice the right disciplines.  Daily one-on-ones is the first discipline you can practice to get you and your people on that path.  People-Service-Profit

Stay green!