Strategic update: How to simplify your goal setting for 2018!

As we wind down 2017, it is time for you to look forward to and start thinking about what your dealership goals are going to be for 2018! This time of year is crazy! From closing out your year financially, getting ready for the holidays, and dealing with the 1001 things that you must deal with everyday its hard to tell up from down. This is the time of year when you need to be working on your business and not in your business. This month’s blog is going to focus on simple goal setting for 2018. It will allow you to simplify the goal setting process to help take your dealership to a higher level of performance, accountability and profit.

A simple yet effective method for goal setting is called a SMART goal. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented and Time-bound. Below are some examples of how to implement each step in a typical dealership.

Goals should be specific. Goals should be written to clearly define what you, or members of your team, are going to do. Overall written goals should be specific. For example, by August 2018 your parts department’s average line per ticket will be at least 2.5 lines per invoice. By doing so, you will be increasing salesmanship in the parts department.

Goals should be measurable. Goals should be measurable in every step of the process to ensure that we are moving towards the goal and to see if the goal has been attained. Measuring provides tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. For larger goals you may want to measure how well you are moving towards the final goal by checking monthly. In our above example, you could run a report from your DMS on a regular basis to see how well things are progressing.

Goals should be achievable. Goals need to be “stretched” so that you or your employees are motivated or challenged to meet the stated goal. When setting goals for your staff you need to make sure that they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve the goal or you are setting them up for failure. Remember that achievable goals motivate you or your staff. Whereas unachievable goals are demotivating and brings down dealership morale. For example, if your employees do not understand what average lines per ticket means or measures then the goal is a “nothing burger” to them.

Goals should be results-focused. Goals should be based on the overall outcome of the goal and not on the specific activities that make up the goal. In our parts department example, the goal of achieving an average of 2.5 lines per invoice is the result of the goal.

Goals should be time-bound. Goals should be tied to a specific timeframe. By doing so creates a sense of urgency to meet the goal. It ties the current state of the goal with the vision of the goal itself. In our example of increasing the average lines per ticket, the goal of 2.5 lines per ticket by August 18th 2018 is the timeframe or deadline. If you have a stated goal without a specific timeframe, then the goal is unlikely to be achieved. Basically it sets a tone from the top of what is to be expected.

Other tips on goal setting:

  1. Individual or departmental goals should be linked to the overall goal of the dealership. For example, if the overall goal is to increase profit and gross margin, then individual department goals should be developed to support the overall strategic goal. Sometimes individual goals are set that conflict or prohibit the overall dealership goal from being achieved.
  2. Communication is key when developing dealership or strategic goals. Communication between employees and management is vital to make sure that there are no surprises throughout the year. Continuous communication is also important to make sure that the goals are being worked towards and that the goals are achieved.
  3. Make goal setting a yearly part of your dealership’s year-end close! Goal setting should become part of every dealership’s DNA and yearly operating process. Dealerships that do not set goals for themselves are basically working hard every day with no clear vision or road map to follow. Success and profitably does not happen by accident.
  4. Work collectively to establish goals. Work with your employees in developing department and individual goals. Research has proven that when employees are more involved with the development of their individual goals then those goals are more likely to be achieved. If you force feed a goal to an employee, then you possibly could be setting the employee up for failure and disappointment for yourself.
  5. Revise goals as needed. Strategic planning in a dealership is an ongoing process. Sometimes business conditions have changed that affect the goal itself. It is important to make sure your goal planning process has a feedback loop built into it so that business goals can be revised when business conditions change or as needed.

Let’s make 2018 a stellar year! Good planning, budgeting and goal setting are vital components to any business especially in modern powersports dealerships. I see so many dealerships open their doors every day hoping for a good outcome. Those dealerships that implement goal setting have a much higher chance at achieving success. Remember that greatness and profitability does not happen by accident or chance.


And by the way, it’s just good business and SMART! Happy New Year!

Forrest Flinn, MBA, PHR, SMS has been in the motorcycle industry for more than 20 years and has been a true student and leader serving in various capacities. He previously worked as an implementation consultant for Lightspeed and as a general manager with P&L responsibility for a large metro multi-line dealership. Currently Forrest is the managing partner and chief visionary for a consulting firm that specializes in outsourced accounting, human resources, social media strategy, dealership operations consulting and Lightspeed/EVO training.


One comment

  1. Great article, Forrest. A dealership without a plan is like a ship without a rudder. A business owner is either making things happen, watching things happen or wondering what happened. The first choice is the hardest but offers the greatest returns.

    Thanks for the great read!

    Bruce Marcia

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