Urgent, or important, or both?

Publish Date: 
Jul 25, 2012
By Eric Anderson

YOU ARE FREAKIN' CRAZY! Yes, you! And it’s probably your own damned fault. Every day there is more to do and fewer resources with which to do it, right? You may have survived the recession, but the real question is, can you survive the recovery? Dazed and confused may describe some dealers’ point-of-view as they have circles of stars and canaries circling above their heads asking, “What the hell just happened?”

If you are a franchised survivor, you likely “inherited” a few extra franchises, but are now operating with a smaller staff and decreased floor traffic. Am I right? If you are an independent shop, you probably have more service work than you know what to do with, but not enough floor space to handle your growing parts and accessories business. Am I right?

Do you see what just happened in the last paragraph? Read it again.

The franchised stores gave up their high-margin P&A floor space to accommodate more new bikes from their upside-down neighbors. Meanwhile, the local independent shops inherited more service and P&A business. The big e-tailers also helped fill in the gap, leading franchised dealers to stock less P&A. Add increasing used bike sales to the mix and we saw the customer-preference pendulum swing toward the independents as new bike sales went in the toilet. This led to the independent guys having a greater chance of stocking the parts and accessories formerly found in the franchised dealerships, while also turning the service jobs around quicker and more affordably.

All of this begs the question: What the hell just happened?

Let me get back to my original point. No matter what type of dealer you are, you are crazy. You have too much to do and not enough time or resources to do it. The pressure is greater than ever, so allow me to ask you what you are going to do about it. Are you being selective in prioritizing what tasks need to get done versus what you want to get done? When the human animal is time-crunched and crazy-busy, he tends to make less-than-stellar decisions.  

Do you know the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important? Urgent is the little stuff happening all around you — usually delivered 24/7 in the form of a constantly buzzing, ringing e-device. Remember the book Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff? So why are you so concerned about constantly piping a fire hose of small stuff into your brain? Urgent doesn’t necessarily mean important.

All too often what is important gets delayed or diluted by the fire hose of micro-messages from the masses. All this information flying around your head confuses you between what’s urgent and what’s important. You need to become more discretionary about what you handle first, before you get burnt.

Check out the diagram to the left, and tell yourself honestly where you spend most of your time during business hours. Is it in the No. 1 and No. 2 quadrants where it should be?

Theory says most humans under stressful conditions migrate toward the No. 4 quadrant because of today’s higher frequency of accessibility and interruption. You can now see what happens: Getting stuck in No. 4 prevents us from getting to No. 1 and No. 2. (Note that all the No. 3s went out of business.)

What’s the solution? There are two, actually. 1) move toward the top of the chart and tackle the important stuff; and 2) do the complex and important tasks in the morning (just like your mother told you when you were little). Get your daily tasks in quadrants 1 and 2 done before noon, then let the rest of the urgent chips fall where they may. It will lead to a less crazy day and you’ll be happier about your increased productivity. That newer level of satisfaction will also push the other tasks along more objectively and efficiently in the afternoon.

Feel a little less dazed and confused now?  Good, because now your very important customers will get better service. Work might still drive you crazy at times, but at least some of the stars and canaries should stop swirling around.