Rick Ricart – Keep It Simple

A lot has changed. I sometimes wonder how many people still consider this industry one that is, at heart, simple. There are more intelligent people in the industry than ever before, and in some ways I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Before you hang me out to dry, hear me out. I’m incredibly thankful for brilliant people who have changed the industry forever. I’m surrounded by brilliant people. However, in my experience extreme intellectualism can often serve to overcomplicate an industry that I still believe to be exceptionally simple.

The most important question is always: Why? Sometimes complicated reporting services sound great, but there’s no reason to have more than a couple of reporting services for basic measurements. Everything else is just excessive, and I would challenge you to ask yourself why you need every tool that you use. You may find that several serve no real purpose.

Always remember that a tool is just that: a tool. That’s it. A hammer doesn’t suddenly build anything by itself, but a person that puts it to work can make great things happen. As a manger ask these two questions:

  1. Is anyone using this tool? (you, your team or your customers)
  2. Do I really need this, or does it just a distraction to me, my team and my customers?

If no one is using a tool, then either there were unclear expectations or a lack of value associated with that tool. If you find yourself buried in analytical data, but find that there is no action taken in response to the data’s findings, then why do you continue to waste your time with it? In either scenario it’s time to reconsider your strategy.

Plus, keep in mind that getting involved with every new software tool available is NOT the way to stay ahead of the curve. That’s exactly how you will fall behind as you inundate yourself with tools to an extent that they become a burden. Tools are meant to make us more effective, not more inefficient.

So remember to look ahead, but not too far ahead. Most importantly, make well informed decisions. Choosing every shiny new toy is NOT a real decision. Making decisions means that you will either be right or wrong. “Choosing” every option is a cop out for leaders who do not trust their own instincts.

An inability to trust yourself might very well stem from your own failure to constantly gather information. Being confident is easy when you actually know what you’re talking about. Now, you might say “I don’t have time for that!” Two things: 1) Gathering information is something I do because I love this industry. I can’t help it! 2) If you truly don’t have time to remain cutting edge, ask yourself why?

The wonderful thing about simplification is that it not only makes us produce more, it also frees our time for the most important things. Here’s a thought, you already speak with vendors now, so start using them to freely pull information that you can use to improve your dealership.

It is also crucial to remember that the future is not dictated by the auto industry. As much as we like to look internally for progress, and there certainly are dealers making some amazing progress, it is good to consider outside sources as well. Excessive pride can be a massive hindrance to any attempts at becoming a true expert that makes well informed decisions. Take the best aspects of every good thing you encounter and think of ways it might apply to your dealership. Be creative. Be innovative.

And, more than anything else, let’s resolve to keep it simple.