November 09, 2006

Simple Problems Often Require Complex Solutions

Weighing the costs and benefits of every decision made, whether it is a business, economic, or social decision is extremely important. In my human resources simulation group, we have discovered that simple solutions are often deceiving. The expected results of our solutions did not always correlate with the goals that we expected them to achieve. This is because increasing wages or adding benefits are not the only factors that determine success. There are many other factors such as competition within the industry, worker morale, and productivity rates that must be correctly interpreted. In my management accounting class, we have begun discussing decisions that managers must make when presented with data about profit in specific product lines. The most obvious solution is not always the best since there are many factors to take into account. Therefore, the goal of any manager is to carefully analyze every decision being made rather than hastily make decisions.

October 24, 2006

The Importance of Training

When reflecting on our classroom discussion about training, I realized that I was exposed to extensive training while working as a Volkswagen sales consultant. The first type of training was internal. I received advice from my manager at the dealership. He gave me several helpful tips that he had acquired during his twenty years in the car business. Additionally, Volkswagen corporate and the car dealership had to orient me as well as the other new sales employees to it goals and views. Volkswagen required employees to attend training seminars at local hotels. They also had a training website with flash presentations to introduce sales personnel to new products. Volkswagen also provided live televised courses that included employee participation over the phone. The last type of training I received came from external sources. I listened to third party training tapes that were supplied by the dealership. Training was a very important part of my job and helped contribute to my success. Training should be considered important to the success of any business.

October 12, 2006

Inefficiency and Mismanagement

For a car dealership to succeed, mismanagement must be kept to a minimum. I remember one situation that could have been prevented with more proactive management. In this situation, there was a car with a puncture in the door which required the replacement of the whole door. The car was not repaired promptly, and it remained parked with this damage until it was sold. Waiting until the last minute to find a solution resulted in compromising company efficiency and resources. The service department was forced to swap the door from a similar car. This solved the problem only temporarily because I soon sold the new car with the damaged door. Again, there was an inefficient use of company resources, and the customer left the dealership with a negative impression. One way to solve this problem would be to have better communication between management and employees. The manager may have thought that the employee who sold the first car had put in the work order for a door replacement. However, no one ended up doing this. Better communication between the manager and the employee could have easily solved this situation.

The Rewards of a Happy Customer

For the learning plan, I interviewed one of the sales manager that I worked with this summer. One of the things he enjoyed most about his job was making customers happy. I realized that I also found this aspect of selling cars extremely rewarding. During the summer, I helped a woman who could not make up her mind. She had her mind set on a Passat wagon; however, she was not willing to spend over thirty thousand dollars. I met her in the beginning of the summer and kept her updated about other options and deals over the next two months. She did not come back until closing time on my last day of work. I was so happy to see her that I stayed past closing time to help her. I was determined not to lose this customer after all the work that I had put into the deal. I informed her of factory incentives that would make the cash purchase of a Passat sedan ten thousand dollars less than the price of a wagon. She was so excited about the sedan that I collected a deposit in the dark parking lot of the closed dealership.

October 04, 2006

Being Yourself

Does it really pay off to be yourself? Normally, I am a quiet and reserved individual. However, in certain circumstances, I am able to reach beyond my comfort zone. During my job interview with Rockwell Automation, I noticed some aspects of my character that are not present in my everyday life. I felt as if I was not my normal self. People often say, “Just be yourself.” In certain situations, this may be good advice. However, somehow I do not think being quiet and reserved is the best strategy in an interview. Instead, it is better for the interviewee to be more professional and aggressive. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing things that may not necessarily be part of your character are essential for a successful interview and career.

September 14, 2006

Managing Turnover

This summer while working as a Volkswagen sales and leasing consultant, I witnessed a situation that probably could have been prevented with more effective management and hiring processes. One of the harder things to do in a short interview, is predicting whether or not someone is able to follow orders and take criticism in a professional manner. Unfortunately for one of my fellow new employees, it seemed that he had his own way of doing things. Due to his inability to control situations at work, he got fed up and left.
In retrospect it was obvious that this employee would have ended up quitting. In conversations with the man he mentioned that he had been a financial consultant for IBM. I wondered what he was doing selling cars. (Only because it was such a different job than what he was used to) I found out that after about a month he had gotten sick of being retired. He decided that he needed something to keep him busy. It was a dead giveaway that this man would not last very long. Being driven is hard when you think of your position as just a "job". Sales, espescially automotive sales, requires motivated behavior.
The car sales industry is notorious for its close to 61% turnover rate. Most of this can be attributed to the stressful 50 hour week. Many people simply cannot go on very long in the industry. These people often treat it as a temporary job. How do we weed these people out? Would it have been right to not hire someone who was obviously qualified for the job on the basis that they would quit within a few months? From the signs that I saw it was obvious he should not have been hired. That being said, I also had an older colleague who had managed 100 employees at one point in his previous career. He has been at the dealership for years and is a strong salesperson. From the managers perspective, the employee who resigned may have seemed like a prime candidate. The employee did perform to his expectation, however in the end it benefited the dealership very little. Was it correct to take the chance and hire this man? How do we know how someone will react when the tables are turned, and they are the ones receiving orders?