September is traditionally one of the two best months of the year for profitability. For most retailers, the retained profit at the end of Q3 is the best that it is will be for the remainder of the year. Quite often retailers will then try and hang onto what they have got for three months by cutting costs in the final quarter:- who hasn’t heard the tired mantra “if it doesn’t sell a car, a part or an hour in Q4 don’t do it!”?
Actually, with the average dealer likely to retain less than 1p in the pound for the second year in a row, there is much more that can be done as part of an examination of the whole business which will leave you fit to meet the challenges of Q4 and reap the rewards in Q1 and the remainder of 2013.
Through focusing on the following key areas of the business, many opportunities to improve performance can be identified. Each retailer should take a critical, impartial look at their business as though they were an outsider and evaluate the following three areas categories:
Environment and people: ensure that the business is welcoming for customers and that the people within it are going the extra mile to build rapport with everyone who comes through the door and treat them as they would guests coming into their home. Imagine how a customer feels who cannot park, who sees a dirty and untidy site and is welcomed by someone who makes no effort to connect with them as a person before jumping straight into a sales process.
Look at the processes and controls and make sure that they are delivering all that is needed. If you the business is underperforming in a particular sales area relative to composites or budgets, ask why? And put positive actions in place to address the shortcomings.
Evaluate all the different forms of communication within the business and examine the visual management tools in place. Make sure they are they fit for purpose. Are the members of staff communicating with each other effectively and are managers measuring the right things and displaying results in the right way?
Once these have been evaluated, an action plan should be devised and agreed with the team in order to address the shortfalls.
It can, however, be extremely difficult for people to take a totally impartial view of their own business, and often it is even harder to make critical observations without a benchmark to measure against.