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Back office investment will yield front end rewards.

By Marilou Vroman, CPA

One of the best indicators of a good restaurant is a well-kept, clean and organized kitchen.  Some of the best restaurants are those where you can see the food being cooked with utmost care and concern, the chef directing traffic, an orchestra of gastronomic talent working together to create amazing dishes with the final garnishes so being carefully placed on each plate.  So, as you take time from your busy day to read this, why is this relevant to your dealership?

It’s interesting to me how many dealerships continue to operate with the minimal amount required to meet corporate image requirements, and make little no investment in the non-customer facing areas of the store, such as the accounting office, parts department, and even the service department.  These are the places where dealership employees come to work every day and are expected to be high producers and to be happy and treat your customers with utmost care and concern.  Yet their work environment has been ignored. I’ve seen accounting departments where boxes upon boxes of old files, old printers and computer equipment were randomly piled on the floor.  Desk chairs that are falling apart, low lighting, mold stains on the ceilings, smelly carpets, bugs, no soap in the bathroom and a general lack of care or concern for the workspace.  Not to mention, computer equipment with processing speeds that of a floppy disk era Apple IIC.

Interestingly, I have observed some correlation between the dealer’s investment in the work environment and the overall integrity of the dealership.  I find those stores that have been meticulously maintained, well lit, clean, pleasant working environments for their employees are generally better run, have higher employee satisfaction and pride, and a lower risk of inappropriate transactions and activities and less turnover.

Like a good restaurant that is proud to share “where the magic happens”, dealers should treat the hidden areas of the dealership like the star of the show.  If your customer would have second thoughts buying or servicing their car at your store after observing working conditions of these hidden areas, it may be time for a refresh.

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