Change isn’t always easy, but it also doesn’t have to be hard. How challenging change is on a team, to some extent, depends on how it is introduced and integrated. While there were numerous takeaways from this summer’s Dealership Minds Summit (look for extended coverage of the Summit in the October/November issue of Farm Equipment), one of my notes jumped off the page as I was reviewing them. “Find the champions who want to do it, and then use their successes as examples.” 

This specific note was from one of the roundtable discussions in reference to making use of the dealership’s CRM and taking advantage of data and intelligence tools. But, it certainly holds true for any change, in any department across the organization. Find the person or people who seem excited about the change, train them on the program and use them as an example for others. With something like CRM usage, you can share sales growth that those who are using it have seen. Show the naysayers it makes a difference. People need to see the benefit.

Here at Lessiter Media (the publisher of Farm Equipment), we recently began using a project management program across the board. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at the company or what your title is, we’re all expected to use the program — from owners down to interns, and everyone in between. We’ve got a team of 3 who have been tasked with keeping the rest of us on track with learning and using the very new program. Champions of the program have emerged naturally (as have some doubters), but watching how much more smoothly projects for the champions are going now that things are streamlined and all in one place is refreshing and encouraging. We’re a long way from having the change fully embraced, but we now have a few champions who can spread the excitement and success of the program. 

If you’re part of a multi-store dealership, one of the dealers in the roundtable suggested starting the change with one store. If it’s a new program or software, put it out to the stores and say, “Who wants it?” The champions of change will rise up. Get that one location started, and learn from their growing pains — there will be some — so you can you then work through bringing the change to all of your stores. 

Another suggestion was to start with new employees. Teach them how to use the CRM — or any other program or process you are trying to instill — as part of their on-boarding process and make it a part of their job. As more new people are hired and longer-term employees (maybe those resisting the change) retire, eventually you will have the majority of the team using a system or program as part of their everyday job. 

This can be a long-term cultural change, and it’s not going to happen overnight. One dealer said it took 6-12 months to start seeing some of the impacts and progress of people buying into the system.

To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, be the change you want to see in your dealership. In other words, you’re the leader and you set the standards. If you embrace the change, it’s likely others will follow suit, champions will emerge who can continue setting the example of how the new program, process, etc., benefits the members of the team individually and the business as a whole.