I’ve just returned from my annual trek to the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention, and I’m more enthused this year than in the past four or five.

First, as we all know, we concluded a solid year. The prospect for this year is growth, which translates to solid dealer enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm is contagious, thus mine.

I had the chance to meet many young managers, both U.S. and international, who accompanied their dealers to the convention.

That the dealers would make this investment to bring their managers to the Orlando, FL, speaks volumes that the dealers have confidence in them and are willing to invest in their future by furthering their education and training.

Not only does it instill confidence, it opens their eyes to the possibilities which exist in this quickly changing business.

Possibly the highlight of my trip was being asked to conduct a workshop for a group of 20 dealers from South Africa. Prior to the session, they visit a couple of excellent dealerships in the Orlando area.

Following my presentation focusing on 2012 results, we open the meeting up for discussion, not only about the facts I presented but also their impressions of their dealership visits. 

There is general agreement that the most interesting and common quality at the dealerships was how process-driven they are. The feeling is that much of a dealership’s success is attributed to established processes which help the store in day-to-day business and create a better experience for the customer.

The same can be said for any organization.

In my July, 2012 column headlined Getting to 30% Net to Gross, I wrote the following: 

“If asked to give one common characteristic 30%-net-to-gross dealers share, it is the fact that their organizations are process-driven. These internal processes are well-thought out and consistent. All employees are expected to adhere to them.”

If we think about processes, it is really no different than what we see when we analyze a successful sports team. It has a solid plan, it is disciplined, it executes the plan and members practice, practice, practice. This is true no matter what the sport. 

By following these steps in business, good process become second nature to your staff. This translates to good customer-satisfaction levels, sales and net profits for the organization. In other words, it becomes a culture.

At the workshop, the person who had arranged the Orlando dealership tours, makes an important point, one that sparks additional discussion. 

“It begins with vision which has to be supported by culture,” he says of successful dealerships.

This is something I’ve reflected on. If we want a world-class organization in terms of the customer experience, employee experience, sales and service performance and high return on investment, we first need a vision.

The staff must buy into this vision and is willing to install and follow the processes which will achieve performance results.

Think of the real possibilities that are available to you and your dealership if you are truly process-driven.

Good selling.

Tony Noland of Tony Noland & Associates is a veteran dealership consultant. He can be reached at tonynolandandassociates.com.