Dealer Insights - Nov/Dec 2012 - Tips For Setting and Meeting Your Dealership’s 2013 Goals

It’s the end of the year, and you’re likely planning your moves for 2013. Auto dealerships often find setting, monitoring and meeting objectives for the coming year to be difficult tasks. For example, keeping track of what you wrote down as goals in November may seem less important as the new year progresses and you grapple with day-to-day challenges.

Here is some advice for setting — and meeting — your annual business objectives.
“Where are we weak?” and “Where are we strong?” should be asked at the onset of the goal-setting process. Areas where you’re weak can be transformed into objectives for the coming year. For instance, let’s say you’re underperforming in the F&I area of your dealership. Perhaps set an objective to hit a higher penetration level or a higher dollar per retail unit sold on F&I products.
Areas where you’re already strong can be expanded. If your F&I metrics are meeting standards, maybe you could enlarge your current service offerings to include tire warranties, emission warranties and so on.


Your objectives should reflect your dealership’s strategic plan, a map of short- and long-term goals. These performance objectives should meet certain “S-M-A-R-T” criteria. That is, they should be:

Specific. Make each objective as precise as you can. Include dates, locations, processes and requirements for completion. For example: “Sell 20% more new vehicles than in 2012 each quarter by increasing our advertising budget by 10% and our sales force by two.”

Measurable.  Know the results you wish to achieve and be able to quantify them. Rather than setting a goal to, say, “improve response time for e-mailed sales inquiries,” you could set a goal to “decrease average response time for e-mailed sales inquiries from one day to four hours.”

Attainable. Be sure that your objective is something under your control. For instance, a goal to reduce overhead might be unattainable if your manufacturer requires you to construct a larger facility.

Realistic. Set your goals high enough that they involve a challenge, but not so high that they can’t be reached. For example, if other dealership service departments in your franchise’s region with a similar number of technicians do an average of $10,000 of business per day, you may be setting yourself up for failure if you make your goal $15,000 per day. 

Timely. Give your objectives timelines that are reasonable and keep you on track for achieving results. For instance, you could strive to reduce the number of service customer complaints by 50% by year end but, to help keep you on track, plan to send your service writers to a customer satisfaction seminar by the end of the first quarter.


Once your goals are written, they should stay in the forefront. Ask your top managers to inform you of the processes they’re using to attain their goals and to monitor their success.
Every month or, at minimum, every quarter, they should report the progress they’ve made reaching their goals. Managers also should inform you of any significant obstacles that get in the way of success. Celebrate milestones and learn from setbacks.


No matter when your year ends, you should evaluate how your dealership is meeting its goals throughout the year. Woe be the owner who waits until the end of the year to discuss financial performance with his managers. By then, it’s usually too late to solve problems.

Always have your finger on the pulse of your dealership’s performance. Action plans to reach your annual objectives may need to be retooled as the year goes on.

Dealer Insights - November/December 2012 Issue

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