People are interesting and they never cease to amaze me. At the NCM Institute, one of the classes I teach is Principles of Service Management I. In this class, we get to see all levels of service management experience…from veteran service managers to service manager candidates. We also get to see the how their departments are currently performing. While the students only get to see their individual stores’ numbers, as an instructor, I get to see all of the data. The numbers span the full spectrum, from highly profitable to large losses and everywhere in-between.
It’s funny because each store sends their people for their own reasons. Some just want to find a way to get to break-even on a monthly basis. Others want to find ways to increase gross revenue. Then you have a few that are doing very well and they just want to find “one more” nugget to make their high-performing departments that much better. We also occasionally see the manager who was sent by the owner. This manager feels he already knows “everything” and takes it as an insult that he could possibly learn anything from someone else.
With this much diversity in almost every service management class, it really amazes me that you can still see very distinct patterns.
In one section of the class, we review a document that we call the World-Class Service Checklist. This document lists 35 key processes that have been identified as critical processes to have in place for a world-class service department. Each student is given a copy of the processes and as we review them one-by-one in class, they are asked to score their department on each one. The scoring is a simple “one to ten” point system. If you rank yourself an eight or above, you may consider your department’s process to be world-class. Any score below a seven indicates you have room for improvement. Several of the processes generally get a zero, as the manager realizes that a particular process is not currently installed in the department.
We ask for an honest evaluation and we don’t require the scores to be turned in. We feel that true introspection is the best judge of opportunities at hand. As the instructor, I generally see the scores as we review them. Some students actually want to share questions or comments about their scores. This is where it gets interesting.
What always amazes me is the way people score themselves. Almost every time, the best dealers give themselves the lowest scores. Remember, I have the financials for each of them and can see who the top players are…in quantifiable categories. This trend plays out continually. If a manager is running 30% or above net-to-gross, it seems they are so critical of their processes that they seldom give themselves more than three or four world-class ratings. They don’t care what anyone thinks; they just see opportunity and know they can get better…no egos here!
On the flip side, many times stores that are struggling will have most of the 35 processes ranked as world-class. I would guess there may be three possibilities for this:
- They just don’t know what a true world-class process looks like.
- They are afraid that if someone sees a bad score on a process, they might be forced to try to implement a solution (and that just sounds like too much work).
- They can’t score themselves truthfully because their egos can’t take it.
To emphasize the point, I once had a new service manager with only three months of total management experience in a department that was losing money and shrinking year-over-year. Yet, on the 35 World-Class Processes, he ranked his department a 10 in every category!
Conversely, I had another service manager with several years’ experience in a department that was running well over 30% net-to-gross, with over 10% year-over-year growth and great CSI. However, he didn’t give himself a single world-class rating. He was so focused on always becoming better that good enough was NEVER good enough.
Do you want to really excel in your career, or just get by? If you want to excel, eliminate your ego and look for opportunities to always perform better and never stop learning.
If this is something you are interested in, come join me at the NCM Institute as we help you unlock opportunities in your department. I do have one request, though. When you go through this exercise, just be honest with yourself.