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The Great Divide – How Do Business Silos Get Created?

Silos can happen in any business, in all industries. So, what exactly is a “silo”?

Growing up a farm kid, I would refer to this as a grain bin, which is a place to store the crop after harvest and keep it dry before selling the grain.

From a business perspective, it has a different meaning. It can occur when departments or managers don’t share important information, goals, or essential communication with other departments.

Whether you have walked into an auto dealership a dozen times, or if you are a business customer with a large heavy equipment dealership, you may have experienced the “silo effect”. It appears to be the age-old problem in a dealership environment.

Departments seem to face-off like they are ready for battle and compete with each other, rather than collaborating to make things go smoothly for each other and, ultimately, the customer.

It could be the accounting folks putting all the sales team through the hoops on every ounce of detail with their sales files and questioning them as month-end approaches. Frustrated, the sales team fights back to ensure they get their earned sales commission numbers in before the last day of the month.

There can be a general strife between sales and service. The service department gets heat from customers on what may have been promised by the sales team. The service team may not always give the same love and attention to the customer as they don’t have the same relationship that the sales team has with the customer.

People may get thrown under the bus by colleagues in any department and worse yet, this sometimes occurs right in front of the customer.

Ongoing stressors of “us” versus “them” do not work if you truly want a highly efficient and productive dealership that is all about serving the best interest of the customer… every department’s customer!

There is no logical reason why this occurs, other than the fact that each department (i.e. Sales, Service, Parts, or Accounting) gets focused and caught up on what they have to do day-in and day-out. More time is spent working “in” the business and less time spent “on” the business. Finding solutions to regular problems and issues that customers have takes time and effort. Who has the time?

What if more time was spent on collaboration and creating a Win-Win for your customer and your dealership, not just YOUR department?

Someone has to make the first move and when time is of the essence, other more pressing issues top the priority list. You may spend more time putting out fires and less time improving communication or process improvements between departments. What if you took the time? It could have a BIG impact on your dealership and overall business.

In my experience working in a wide range of industries, including several dealership environments, I see this challenge as a common occurrence. I have discovered why some of this happens.

First of all, most of us procrastinate putting off the things that we don’t want to do in the first place. Who wants to sit down and talk about all the problems between each dealership department? It’s painful, time-consuming and it will stir up problems with colleagues that just aren’t worth it. The truth is, it is totally worth it! Your dealership team deserves it and your customers definitely deserve better!

Taking the time, and actually finding the time, to fix the challenges is part of the problem, and if you do meet, what will happen? What will we talk about? Who will take the lead? Who will agree and take action?

When dysfunction or a total lack of cohesive team behaviour exists, it comes down to a few key factors that require repair.

Much like fixing or repairing sophisticated and expense heavy-duty equipment, expert and seasoned technicians diagnose the problem. They get granular on the detail to know exactly why the problem is occurring. Decisions are then made to solve the problem. There is no other option!

Creating stronger and more effective communicating teams with a solid culture and removing departmental silos are really no different.

Within our business, we have diagnostic and assessment tools that pinpoint exactly what the team’s problems and challenges are.

As a general rule, we diagnose and discover that great teams:

Trust one another: When team members are genuinely transparent and honest with one another, they are able to build vulnerability-based trust.

Engage in Conflict around ideas: When there is trust, team members are able to engage in an unfiltered, constructive debate of ideas.

Commit to decisions: When team members are able to offer opinions and debate ideas, they will be more likely to commit to decisions.

Hold one another Accountable: When everyone is committed to a clear plan of action, they will be more willing to hold one another accountable.

Focus on achieving collective Results: The ultimate goal of building greater trust, conflict, commitment, and accountability is one thing: the achievement of results, which can have a big impact on your bottom-line.

Building a cohesive culture and highly productive teams takes work but the payoff can be huge!

If you or your team need help, we would be pleased to have a Discovery Call, at no cost or obligation to your dealership. Just an opportunity to have us serve as a sounding board to discuss your specific dealership and team challenges. Contact us at:


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