Being able to adapt and respond to a crisis is vital if your dealership is going to be successful. No matter what your sales volume is, ALL businesses face unforeseen challenges, changes in the industry, and economic hardships. However, even though we all know this to be true, it’s shocking to see just how many dealerships don’t have a plan in place to help protect themselves if such an event were to occur, or a plan that helps their dealership achieve continued growth, year after year.

One company that did have the foresight to create a business growth strategy like this was Vanguard and in 1987, when the U.S. stock market plummeted a devastating 22.6%, their emergency preparedness plan was put into action. This plan, known as the Swiss Army Method, put high level executives on the front line, handling phone calls from frantic investors and keeping them from jumping ship.

So how can the Swiss Army Method benefit your dealership?

Understanding the Swiss Army Method

The Swiss Army Method that Vanguard created wasn’t just about having a few extra hands to take phone calls when times got rough. It was about giving executives and upper level management the opportunity to experience the front lines of their business. This is the only way to truly analyze and improve the customer’s experience.

Most of the time, when a dealership is having problems – like missing monthly sales quotas – the general manager and other members of the corporate team will collaborate and try to come up with a solution. The key flaw in this strategy is that it completely ignores the front lines. Understanding how your customers experience your dealership is essential to improving and growing your business.

Benefits of Using the Swiss Army Method at Your Dealership

One of the primary benefits of the Swiss Army Method, as we detailed above, is that it gives you an up close look at how customers are experiencing and interacting with your dealership. By making it a point to get managers out of the office and onto the sales floor to work directly with customers you’ll significantly increase the ability of your dealership to recognize opportunities for improvement.

But that’s not the only way this method can help you protect and grow your dealership. You’ll also be able to:

  • Create better solutions, since you’ll see exactly what challenges your team faces day in and day out
  • Discover missed opportunities that your team might have unintentionally overlooked. Like positioning your frontline as guides, not sales people or creating a follow-up process for customers who are still researching their options after the test drive.
  • Keep up with business with all hands on deck, especially when a sudden rush of foot traffic hits your showroom like during the holiday season.

Create Your Own Swiss Army Process

If your dealership doesn’t already have a plan in place that puts executive level personnel on the front lines, now’s the time to get started. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until an emergency happens, because by then it will already be too late. Follow these easy steps and create your own Swiss Army Process today.

Step 1. Select the member of your team to participate. These are decision-makers who aren’t usually on the frontline. Owners, general managers, and other high level team members are a great place to start.

Step2. Plan regular meetings and shifts. This gets your team in the swing of things and opens up the line of conversation that will be vital if an emergency occurs.

Step 3. Maintain focus and actionable objectives. Keeping this process relevant is key if you’re going to get your team to sign on.

Step 4. Communicate the plan with all your employees. Make sure everyone is on the same page and understand the plans and processes that your dealership has in place to protect itself and promote growth.

Step 5. Test, analyze, and adjust. If some part of your Swiss Army Process isn’t working, talk with your team about how you can improve it. Include team members from all levels, not just upper management.

Getting the on the frontline with the rest of your team is a great way to help dealership owners figure out how to improve and grow their business. But not every touchpoint is on the sales floor. In fact, most customer interactions start online. Take our free 10-question Dealership Website Grader Quiz to see how your digital storefront measures up to your customers’ expectations.


-Chris is a Inbound Copy Team Lead here at FullThrottle

Chris Wirth

Chris Wirth is a Inbound Marketing Copy Team Lead at FullThrottle

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