sys : -)
That is not a typo. It is the language of Internet chat rooms. It means: 'See you soon (smile).'
Dealers soon will see and hear a lot more of this new language as computer-savvy generations of customers and employees enter dealerships.
Dealership employees, particularly managers, must keep up with the latest technology and jargon, or they will alienate a growing and important segment of the market, says Kathleen Macdonald, president of Macdonald Group, a management consulting firm in Ann Arbor, Mich. Macdonald spoke at a recent dealer technology seminar in Chicago organized by Rikess Group, an automotive consulting firm.
Dealership management often is made up of people who were born before 1965, the start of Generation X. Macdonald says many members of the World War II and baby boom generations resist computer technology as too complex.
She said, however, that the younger generations demand technological advance. They will do business with, and work for, companies that make effective use of the latest technology.
Macdonald offers five tips for curing technophobia:
1. Show and tell. Visit other businesses that make successful use of technology to serve customers. 'The key here is to help people understand how the technology or new process is being used before you introduce it,' says Macdonald.
For example, take employees to a dealership using a touch-screen kiosk that lets customers browse inventory and learn about the vehicle line. Ask employees how they would use the kiosk and where they would put it in the dealership, she says.
2. Use it or lose it. Once employees are trained, they must make use of the new process, or they forget how to use it.
'It is important to get people to use the technology in the first 90 days' after introduction, says Macdonald.
3. Get rid of old toys. Some people will continue to use the old systems they are comfortable with unless you take away the old technology.
4. Hold forums. Organize employee meetings to discuss the transition, what's working and what's not working.
One general manager ordered pizza for the employees and asked them how a new phone system was working. 'They found glitches in the equipment and fixed it. It furthered the training and gave people a chance to complain. Often people can be angry and frustrated with new technology,' Macdonald says.
5. Reward and recognize employees who adapt quickly.
One dealer purchased hand-held computers as a substitute for paper schedules or planners. He paid a small cash bonus to employees willing to give up their paper planners.
Another business owner who introduced a new computer system got a list of questions on the system's features from the vendor. He posted a question a day for a month. The first employee to answer the question received a $20 bill.
Dealers also can pay employees' tuition for computer seminars. Macdonald says the reward can be as simple as thanking employees for making the transition.