Change. We all have our favorite quotes about it. Former GE CEO Jack Welch tops my list with: “Change before you have to,” “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near,” and “Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.” Let’s face it, business has changed and continues to change. How effectively you change determines where you rate on your customer's purchasing matrix and ultimately your success or even survival.
What is your culture for change? How open are you to change? How adept are you at facilitating change and measuring its effectiveness? Let’s implore ourselves for a bit and honestly assess our culture for change. Let’s say you finish reading this article and you go out to the sales floor and are greeted by one of your department managers. They feel that a process can be streamlined, sales can be generated or profit margin can be improved if you just implemented this change. You hear them out, but are not sure that the change will net the desired result. You decide it’s worth a shot, set some parameters such as budget, timeline and scope, and set your manager free on his/her quest. After the set timeline you measure the result, get feedback from all parties and either fine tune or scale out the new process at wide open throttle. Congratulations, you have a culture of change! You are open-minded enough where employees feel they can approach you with suggestions. You are not so egotistical where if you can’t see the outcome you deny the opportunity to explore further and you are not afraid to take a calculated risk in order to better your business, employees or customers.
All too often that situation plays out differently. Most of the time the employees who we want suggesting changes are too afraid to bring anything forward because they don’t want to sound foolish or they feel they are not in a culture of change. The feeling is that they will be wasting their time and energy putting forward a plan to try something different. Even if a plan is presented, it is often met with skepticism born from an aversion to risk or a fear of failing. This could be from a prior experience or the pressure we all face to produce positive results. If you find yourself in this mindset you are in the danger zone. Your own experiences are holding your department or dealership back. You need to work through this issue and get to its root. Is it a control issue? Bring in a trusted member of your team to help you work through a small change first. You can do this by setting parameters, having open and honest feedback and putting your personal bias aside.
Part of having a culture of change is being ok with failure. I think of the entrepreneurial mantra of "Fail quickly, fail cheaply and fail often." You don’t know how much you are capable of unless you hang it way out on the line to the point of failure. This is why motocrossers crash! The point from your comfort level to the point of crashing is all found speed, or in your case — growth. Motorcycles still have two wheels and require us to drive them, but the methodology in which we deliver our services has changed and continues to change. Are you re-defining it ... or denying it?
Napoleon Tetreault is a sales representative with Tucker Rocky, an aftermarket PG&A distributor in the powersports industry. He works with powersports retailers on merchandising, profitability and management of the parts department as well as the education of dealership personnel. His experience includes being the GM of the largest indoor motocross facility in the US, owner/operator of a regional distribution company and current role with Tucker Rocky. He can be reached at: