I was once working at a dealership at the same time a trainer was teaching a class on how to use a new version of the DMS system. The frustrated trainer came out of the classroom and said to me, “I can teach a monkey to press the control key and he’ll do it all day. I ask these humans to do it and they want to use the F2 key instead because that is what the old system used!” I can understand both the frustrations of the humans and the trainer; inertia is a basic human nature. We don’t like it when someone moves our stapler, coffee cup, or changes an app on our phone. How can we ever improve technology if humans don’t like change? The first step in the change process is acceptance and there are a few ways to get your employees to accept new technology.
Acceptance of new technology needs to start long before you buy the technology. I’ve met lots of technology salespeople that tell me they will only talk to the dealer when making a sales presentation. I always disagree. If you sell technology first to the employees, then acceptance comes easier. Nothing is worse than having a dealer buy a new product and have it shoved onto the employees. A better method of acceptance is when an Internet manager attends the Digital Dealer Conference and Exposition (next month in Orlando) and sees a new product and then goes back to the dealership and presents it to the technology committee and dealer for approval. Technology committees are new to our industry, but a long time tradition in larger corporations. A typical mission statement for a technology committee would be “the forum for reviewing, evaluating, and recommending strategies, plans, and policies for dealership information technology. The specific elements of the committee’s charge include: Identify strategic directions, capabilities, and objectives IT support, including learning technologies. Identify opportunities where IT can help achieve the dealership’s goals and recommend priorities.”
Typically the technology committee would include the parts manager, Internet manager, controller, dealer or GM, and other interested employees. If this committee gets excited about new technology and then talks to the other employees – you’ll get better acceptance.
Training is the next step in avoiding technology inertia. If you used to play the game Frogger, you’ll remember that the risk in crossing the road is getting smashed by cars. Inertia can come from fear. Nobody likes making mistakes and new technology seems to either create mistakes or point out mistakes, like forgetting to put in email addresses on every repair order. If employees are well-trained, it will ease their fears, but what is the best way to train? An old saying is; “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” This means that you need to do result-based training. Instead of making employees go through the typical learning process of lessons, instead they perform an action that provides results. There are three levels of training; data entry, inquiry, and results.
As an example, if you are installing a new DMS, then you would start with training on data entry. This level requires accuracy and speed. Accuracy should come partly from the software and the rest from company policy. An example of this is requiring the color on trade-in entry (company policy) and making it a required field (software.) Speed comes from practice. While developing data entry training at DealerStar, we’ve tried to make it fun by having records of the best times that someone can enter a repair order, parts ticket, check, or quote a payment. It becomes more of a game.
The next level is inquiry, which involves being able to retrieve valuable information like, “How many cars do I have over 60 days old?” Results happen when we take that same report of over 60 day old vehicles and find where they were purchased (trade-in, auction, etc.) and provide information to management that enables them to make decisions or policy to avoid these mistakes in the future.
Hopefully you can use these two steps; acceptance and training to avoid technology inertia in the future and if you’re already suffering from inertia with your current technology, you’ll need to focus on training to get the results that you’ve been expecting from your technology investment.