Attendees return from the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention armed with knowledge on the latest products, workshop best-practice ideas and information shared at automaker franchise meetings.

In other words, we are pumped and ready to put into play what we’ve learned.

But here’s a quick word of caution, based on my years of experience in an environment where best practices are discussed in depth. Slow down and take it easy.

Review what you’ve learned at the convention. Before taking further action, think about how the change will affect your organization both from a personnel and operational standpoint.  

Please understand I’m not advocating that you not make changes. But proceed slowly. Ensure that everyone is on board rather than dictatorially and automatically installing new processes. I promise this will prove beneficial in the long term.

Economically, 2014 holds a promise of continued improvement.

Positive signs for our industry include lower unemployment, improvements in new and existing housing sales, low interest rates, low or no inflation and higher consumer confidence. 

While auto sales rates may not continue at the pace of 2013, the overall outlook is good. That should translate into improved net-profit margins.

“If we continue to do what we’ve always done, we will get what we’ve always gotten,” goes the old adage.

When an industry performs like ours has in the past two or three years, it provides the opportunity to grow our business. But we need to ask ourselves a series of questions.      

If our new- and used-vehicle sales are inconsistent with our business plan, why not? Is our plan overly optimistic or are we just not executing it right? 

Do we have the right inventory mix (adjusted seasonally) and a vehicle-stock level that supports the sales plan? 

Are sales managers, finance and insurance personnel and salespeople held accountable for monthly results?  Do you subscribe to minimum performance standards?

Do your sales managers, without fail, meet with each salesperson daily to review month-to-date results and discuss projected month-end results?

Do you have buy-in from the sales management and sales personnel? Are salespeople properly trained, with a continuing-education process in place? 

Have these same processes in your service department. Have monthly objectives for management, service advisers and technicians. Provide them with on-going training.

Have minimum performance standards. Monitor and post monthly results. Have your service manager hold daily meetings with the advisers to review month-to-date performance and projected month-end results.

Have a process in place to follow up with customers who failed to keep an appointment. If a customer has declined work, the service manager should discuss possible options.

This is basic blocking and tackling. Daily routines and processes dictate future results. To take advantage of 2014 opportunities and successfully implement new ideas, we should make sure existing processes are in working order and not just topics of conversation.

Good selling!

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