My favorite cooking-reality show is “The Great British Baking Show.” Twelve bakers start the series, and two professionals judge the bakers’ three weekly challenges. Each week, one person is awarded “Star Baker,” and one is sent home until three finalists compete in the final episode. I love the show because it’s all about passion and precision, tears and triumphs, and competition and cooperation. It hit me recently that there are parallels to our industry.
We need to have the passion and precision to be “Star Baker” each week, have happy tears of triumphs, and compete with each other and with ourselves to be the best we can, but cooperate with each other through tough times.
Passion and Precision
The contestants all have a passion for baking, but passion isn’t always enough. Sometimes they stray too far into the decoration and forget the substance of flavors and textures. Other times they focus too much on the substance, and the result looks atrocious. The key is to blend passion with precision so everything is perfect.
We need the same passion and precision in our world. We may have the desire to do well, but wishing doesn’t make it reality. We need to practice our presentation to be outstanding, our paperwork needs to be perfect, and our attention to detail has to be stellar.
Tears and Triumphs
Competitions can be tough, and there are always highs and lows. Sometimes bakers experience a flat soufflé or a liquid mouse, and other times the food is exquisitely presented and tastes amazing. The timed baking events cause tears by worrying if the pie will be cooked thoroughly, or if a biscuit will be crisp enough. Other tears flow from pride and joy at winning “Star Baker,” and sometimes tears come from the relief of making it through to the next round.
We go through a roller coaster of emotions too. Tears might be present after our fifth cash deal in a row, when our PVR drops $200 in the last few days of the month, or when we don’t get home until midnight every time we close. Our jobs are hard, and pressures can mount. Go ahead and cry if it helps.
Competition and Cooperation
Despite the show being a competition, with each baker ultimately wanting to win, they help each other. If bakers finish early, they help another who isn’t. When a baker does poorly, others give hugs of encouragement and commiseration. Sometimes after a baker is sent home, the others dress the next day in a sort of tribute to the former contestant. It’s competition, but it’s also cooperation.
We should play by the same rules. It doesn’t matter if we’re salaried, on a pool pay-plan, or on an individual eat-what-you-kill pay-plan. When one of our teammates is on her third cash deal, we should jump on the grenade and take the next one. If someone makes a five-pounder, we should be the first to cheer. If a teammate is going through a rough patch and struggling with PVR or product penetration, we need to help him. Take a walk around the building, buy a $5 Starbucks gift card to give him a mental and physical boost, or switch schedules to give the teammate an early night out. Not only will we build a stronger team by cooperating rather than always competing, but we’ll also be better people and producers for it.
Every day we come to work is an episode of “The Great F&I Baking Show.” We need to have the passion and precision to be “Star Baker” each week, have happy tears of triumphs, and compete with each other and with ourselves to be the best we can, but cooperate with each other through tough times.
Now go whip up that fabulous F&I soufflé!
Lori Church is an experienced F&I manager, a graduate of the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, and director of compliance for Holman Automotive. Email her at [email protected]