As you can well imagine I fly an awful lot. The bad thing about my flying is I don’t fly the same routes week to week. Thus, I end up flying on almost every airline that serves the continental United States and Canada.
I’m sure you probably have your favorite airline, and my favorite is Southwest by far. Southwest is the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried per year (as of 2009.) Southwest maintains the third-largest passenger fleet of aircraft among all of the world’s commercial airlines. Southwest operates more than 3,200 flights daily.
Southwest Airlines is one of the world’s most profitable airlines, posting a profit for the 37th consecutive year in January 2010. On September 27, 2010, Southwest Airlines announced it would acquire AirTran Airways.
When I say Southwest is my favorite, it’s not even close. They win hands down or hands up or whatever. 99% of the time they leave on time, they arrive on time. What more could you ask for?
I even like they way they board. I know, I know some of you like airlines that have seat assignments. With Southwest you pay an additional $10 and you get to board first. Then it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. Go get ‘em. Pick any seat you like. I like that.
I flew American this past week. Purchased my ticket 30 days in advance and guess what? Didn’t have a seat assignment. I checked in two hours early, was the last person to board the plane and got stuck in a center seat. So much for flying airlines with seat assignments.
So what does all this have to do with the automobile business? Plenty! Both their business and your business is all about keeping it simple and communicating the “message.”
I cannot understand for the life of me why the other airlines don’t “get it.” Southwest can load and unload a plane of passengers faster than a speeding bullet. They operate on a twenty minute turn around time. Talk about fast. (What’s your turn around time when it comes to getting a used car through recon? Speed Wins, Lack of Speed Loses.)
As you may know they don’t charge for bags. Because they don’t charge for bags more people check their bags. By more people checking their bags, they load and unload faster. All the flight attendants “get it.” Their mission is hurry up and go faster. (Does everyone in your dealership “get it?” Are they all on the same page? Do they understand how critical speed is when it comes to your used car inventory?)
Southwest uses the same aircraft, Boeing 737s, with the same seat configurations on 99% of their flights. Think about that one. How much simpler can it be for the crew members when they fly and serve on the same aircraft all the time. (Do all your managers use the same processes? Are they all preaching the same message? Are they all working a different system?)
All the other airlines roll a beverage cart down the middle of the aisle. The Southwest flight attendants take your order, bring the drinks to you. I mean come on, how simple is that? No stupid carts in the middle.
One of the most important things about Southwest is their employees like the company they work for and they have fun. Imagine that. They go to work and have fun. I can tell you from speaking to other airline employees, not only are they not having fun, they hate the company they are working for. (Are the people in your organization having fun?)
But here’s the real deal. Everyone, and I mean everyone knows their job at Southwest. Their people are well trained and understand the word “speed.” They move fast, they don’t mess around, they get it done. Though I don’t have any surveys to prove it I’m betting they have the most satisfied customers in the industry. (Does your entire team understand the mission of your business?)
So, the moral to the story is when your team understands their assignment, are well trained, are having fun, and you keep it simple, your chance of success goes way up and you fly high, really high. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs