Quality questions can produce better goals for your business. - Pexels/Engin Akyurt

Quality questions can produce better goals for your business.

Pexels/Engin Akyurt

It is my hope that you were able to achieve more than you expected in 2023 and lived with a higher degree of fulfillment.

As 2024 speeds toward its midway point, it still presents a great opportunity to build on the momentum that you generated for yourself last year or hit the restart button and start fresh with new levels of excitement to create your best year yet.

Traditionally, or at least in my experience, most goals that we set in the automotive industry are focused on numbers, such as net profit, gross profit, sales volume and much more.  We may even go as far as focusing on some key metrics, like net to sales and expense to gross.

What we don't focus on as much is going a few layers deeper and discovering what actually goes into creating the outcomes we’re chasing.

This is where I'd invite you to consider a different perspective on how to think about goals, for yourself, your department and/or your dealership: The higher-quality questions we ask ourselves, the higher-quality answers we'll elicit. This leads to generating higher degrees of energy, engagement, productivity, intrinsic motivation, and of course performance.

Six Powerful Questions

  1. Where do you want to go?
  2. Who do you have to become to get there?
  3. What do you need to get there?
  4. How will you know you're getting there?
  5. What happens if you don't get there?
  6. Why do you want to go there?

Power Question 1: Where do you want to go?

  • Which aspects of your department and/or dealership do you have to improve?
  • What is the key thing(s) that you have an opportunity to improve on with your management and/or leadership game?
  • If you were to look back a year from now, what progress would you like to have seen in your department and/or dealership?

Write out your answers, what comes up for you, and narrow it down to be as specific as possible, then ask, “What is it that I specifically want to achieve?”

An example of this could be being more intentional with getting away from your computer and office and having meaningful conversations with your team. For instance, when asking them how they’re doing, and they reply with “good,” follow that up with “Awesome! What’s making it good today?” Amazing how much a simple gesture like this elevates your leadership game by creating more trust, deepening the relationship, and providing psychological safety.

Power Question 2: Who do you have to become to get there?

In order to achieve greater things in a dealership, we must bring out even more of the greatness that is within all of us.

  • How can you improve your habits, behavior and actions to help improve your performance and leadership skills?
  • In what ways will things be hard now but easier later?
  • We get what we tolerate – what are you no longer willing to tolerate?

Taking the lead with closing a sale, getting your hands dirty with an oil change, sweeping the floor in the showroom, role-playing with your service advisers, doing inventory with parts, and washing vehicles are all examples of actions that can help positively contribute to the culture, earn respect from your team members, and inspire teamwork. Remember the idea that every action you take is a vote for who you're becoming. You’re becoming someone who leads by example.

Power Question 3: What do you need to get there?

Being merely interested in our goals isn't enough to bring them to life. We must be committed. This is going to challenge us, which is good because it's going to test what we're capable of creating.

  • What do you need to start, stop and continue doing in order to achieve your goal?
  • Which resources do you have available to you that will help you get there, and how can you better leverage the resources you have?
  • What are you willing to sacrifice, i.e., trade-off?
  • If you're saying yes to this goal and are 110% committed, what must you say no to? Are you OK with that?

You may need to stop having so many meetings, start communicating more with your team on a regular basis, and continue to make the meetings fun, energizing and productive.

 Power Question 4: How will you know you're getting there?

  • What do daily or weekly controllable goals look like that are aligned with the big goal?
  • How will you track and measure your progress?
  • How often will you check in with your accountability partner? What does that look like?

Say your big goal is to be more productive and spend more time at home with your family. If you’re finding it hard to get the management (paper related) things done as the day goes on because of how unpredictable the days are in the automotive industry, a controllable goal could be committing 30 minutes in the morning to focus solely on emails, OEM updates, customer relationship management activity, open returns on sales and more. Block this time off in your calendar, put your phone on airplane mode, and ensure you communicate that you are not to be disturbed during this time frame every day unless it’s an emergency.

Power Question 5: What happens if you don't get there?

  • What does accountability look like if you don't reach it?
  • How will it feel to fall short?
  • Who will be impacted?

These are great questions for when you don’t feel motivated to follow through on the commitment you’ve made to your future self. How will it feel to fall short of spending more time at home with your family and how will it impact them? Instant motivation.

 Power Question 6: Why do you want to go there?

The stronger the why, the easier the how.

  • What's in it for you to achieve this goal?
  • What's in it for your team?
  • Why is it important for you to achieve this goal?
  • Ask yourself why it's important again; do this three more times to get to the core of the real reason this goal is that important to you.

Getting to the core of why you’re wanting to create the goal and bring it to life is paramount to getting started and remaining consistent.  There will be a powerful and meaningful reason it’s important for you to achieve your goal. Get to the root of what that is, and you’ll make it easier on yourself to follow through. One year from now, you’ll thank yourself for doing it.

Pulling It All Together

Develop a goal statement. If I'm a service manager, it could look something like this:

I will achieve my goal of improving my leadership game from a self-assessed six out of 10 to an eight out of 10 by committing at least 30 minutes of leadership development per day, five days per week. I will know I'm getting there by receiving feedback from the team members on a quarterly basis through two primary questions: What do you want me to do less of, and what do you want me to do more of? This will help me become not only a better leader for my team, but also for my family. It's important to achieve my goal because we need to lower our attrition rate, improve our culture, and create more leaders within our department.

Create an Action Plan

  • What's one small action you can initiate right now to follow through on what you said you were going to do? Spark momentum by taking that first step.
  • Gauge dedication: Are you interested or committed to that small action? Interested? You'll opt for convenience. Committed? You'll do what’s imperative. On a scale of one to 10, where do you stand?
  • Turn interest into commitment: If it's less than 10, ask, “What do you need to close the gap between your number and a 10/10? If it is a 10, connect with your accountability partner to ask him or her to hold you accountable to ensure you follow through!

Remember that if you do what is easy, life will be hard, but if you do what is hard, life will be easy.

Now go create!

Brandin Wilkinson joined the automotive industry 17 years ago, and for the past 14 years he’s filled roles in management, ownership and executive positions. He currently serves as director of leadership and performance for the Bannister Automotive Group in Kelowna, British Columbia, which has 19 locations across British Columbia and Alberta.

Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today