The old adage, “change is constant” is outdated. Today, change is instant and unavoidable.
It happens so fast and so consistently it’s almost as if change takes place with every breath we take. As professionals, if we intend to stay relevant to customers, we must learn to work at the speed of change. If we don’t, we’ll get passed by.
Change has always shaped our lives. It’s an integral force that drives us to try new things, learn, improve the basics and discover new ideas.
From our earliest days, change has been our ally. Throughout life each of us, personally, has changed. You changed the way you move around, from crawling to walking to running and more. You changed the way you communicate from gurgles to words, writing, reading, and using technology. You are surrounded by change you can’t control. Who would have ever thought that a computer plus the Internet could equal the potential demise or dramatic transformation of movie theaters, record stores, drug stores and shopping malls and grocery stores.
Look at Amazon Pantry, UberEats, and the recent acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon as examples. And look at the home phone. It is a thing of the past. We use our mobile phones for all forms of communication and more.
It’s really is not an option. Unless you and your business can’t adapt, you may be left behind.
As an auto-retailing professional, then, how do you create a fearless environment that encourages and embraces change? Here are six tips to help you along.
1. Everything that you know today is going to change. Change is inevitable. Period. Accept it and get ready for it.
2. Accept that there are no silver bullets or magic formulas for success and never were. Even if your dealership business processes today are flawless, look at them with a critical eye. Anticipate what’s coming next and think about how you can change them now to make them even better. Constantly assess vulnerabilities and always look for the next opportunity to differentiate and do better than you or your competition has in the past.
3. Don’t rest on laurels. Education and training must be as instant and unavoidable as change. Create “learning workers,” people who quickly and consistently absorb new information and discover new ways to use it effectively.
Don’t assume everyone will learn on their own. Build a learning environment where education and training are valued as core assets of success and provided to every employee regardless of role. The more knowledge you and they have, the better.
4. Welcome obstacles and mistakes, which should be used as opportunities to learn and change. Find a new way, a better way, to accomplish the task and adapt. Then, take that knowledge and apply it to new situations. The more flexible you become the more open you will be to learning and changing, and the more difficult you will be to beat.
5. Every day, ask, “Why?” and, “Why not?” just like you did when you were a child. Challenge the status quo. View comments like, “That’s always how it’s done,” “That would never work” and “We tried it before and it didn’t work,” as red flags. They are signs to stop and ask:
“Why wouldn’t this new idea work?”
“Are you positive it wouldn’t work? If it does, someone else will do it first and gain a huge advantage.”
“How do we know unless we try?”
Stop dismissing “crazy” ideas. At least listen to them. After all, we’re about to have cars that drive themselves. How crazy is that?
6. Anticipate change to get and stay ahead of it. Be the first to try a new idea. This is one of the most effective things leaders can do.
It’s really not an option. Unless you and your business can’t adapt, you may be left behind. Most businesses don’t suffer from a lack of new ideas that drive change. They suffer from underutilizing those ideas or failing to work at the speed of change.
Richard F. Libin is the author of the book, “Who Stopped the Sale?”(www.whostoppedthesale.com) and president of APB-Automotive Profit Builders, a firm that works with sales and service departments on customer satisfaction and maximizing gross profits through personnel development and technology. He can be reached at [email protected] or 508-626-9200 or www.apb.cc.