In part 1 of this series, I suggested a simple premise on how to think about beating your competition: the dealer who processes the customer’s order most efficiently wins. And I don’t just mean wins long term.  You can have numerous short term wins with this approach as well.

Sales Don’t Solve All Challenges

Most industry professionals are so focused on sales, sales and more sales these days that they fail to see dollars vaporizing within their operation.  Orders flow through their dealership, riddled with errors and excess labor, yet dealer owners just accept that this is the way things work.  Just the other day I was on the phone with an owner who shared with me that not only did they do everything by hand, not only did they meticulously type every line item of their order into their accounting system, but he actually told me he experienced no real challenges in his operation and, get this: no errors. “We process things pretty clean around here because I’ve been doing this for a long time”.

In other words, in his world, humans are perfect. I mean I’m all for being positive, but being totally disconnected from reality is going to ensure you’ll never become as competitive as you could be.

4 Easy Steps to Help You Streamline

Here’s my 4 step process on how to streamline your operation – with the added benefit of becoming grounded in reality after you finish:

  1. If any of your employees do anything by hand, stop reading now, go look at yourself in the mirror and repeat these words one thousand times: “my operation makes mistakes which cost me money”. If it still hasn’t sunk in, repeat step 1 until it does.
  2. Get a pencil and paper and map out your process from start to finish.  Follow a quote as it becomes an order and eventually an invoice to your customer. Draw pretty boxes around each step and use arrows to show the next step. Nothing fancy, just keep it simple.
  3. When you finish, step back and look at what you drew.  Did it fit on 1 piece of paper?  Could your 11 year old niece make sense of it?  If the answer is no, then admit to yourself that your operation makes even more mistakes than you begrudgingly admitted to yourself in step 1.
  4. Now try to eliminate just one step. That’s right, don’t redraw the whole thing.  Just see if something jumps out at you that makes all the sense in the world to eliminate (trust me, it will jump out at you.  If it doesn’t, send me your process flows and I’ll help you – seriously).

You’re Right, I’m a Moron

cabinet-dealer-secret-competition1.2I’m betting one of two things happened when you finished my 4 step process above. Either you tricked yourself by being too high level (like to the right), or you shocked yourself into the reality that your employees live every day — that there are a million places to make mistakes and a million pieces of paper floating around.  And yes, there’s a million Excel spreadsheets too.

I’ve seen process flows that couldn’t even fit on three pages let alone one.   And there are usually so many “what if” scenarios that the entire drawing looks like a giant bowl of spaghetti that I accidentally spilled on my white shirt. I love Italian, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t want my business stomaching that dish or it would be constant heart burn – not to mention an enormous dinner bill.

Don’t be a Dinosaur

If you want to be more competitive, your secret sauce is all right here.  Just process an order better than the competition (and continue to sell, of course).  But if you’re reading this and thinking “Nah, my Excel spreadsheet and paperwork are perfect for my operation” then just remember this:

The Tyrannosaurus Rex was one heck of a competitor in his day and age too.  Unfortunately, the only thing we have to show for it now are his fossil remains.

Find out how your operation can become more competitive by requesting a demo: