How to Create a Mission Statement
Creating a mission statement sets the foundation for a business. A successful mission statement provides a clear, well-defined description of where your dealership is headed, and the policies and procedures that will help achieve those goals.
A mission statement is used to constantly remind your staff what you want to deliver to customers who come in contact with your fixed operations department, says Jordan Hadwin, general manager of Hadwin-White, a Buick, GMC and Subaru dealership in Conway, S.C.
“I think it’s important to not get in a bubble where we think we’re meeting everyone’s needs, when really we’re not,” she says. “There are certain processes that will lead to a certain level of service that is done well."
Whether it’s a sentence, a paragraph or an entire document, Hadwin says a mission statement should outline who you are as a business, why customers are important and how you plan to serve them.
Hadwin breaks down the six-step process of creating a vision statement and how to use it in the everyday management of all fixed operations departments.
STEP #1: Understand the importance.
Before you can dig into the “how,” you need to define the “why” behind your mission statement. Managers often fail to realize the importance of taking time to create a mission statement, says Hadwin, as they’re bogged down in the day-to-day or putting out fires. Ultimately, everyone in a company needs to understand what the company is about and where it’s going.
“When departments get too segregated, you have a big problem,” Hadwin says. “There has to be that synergy. The more you put managers in a room together, it just enforces that we have to work together.”
"What are words that are important to motivate whatever department you come from?"
Jordan Hadwin, general manager, Hadwin-White
STEP #2: Find out how others view your company.
Get a clear view of who you are, both from your customers and your employees. See your company through the eyes of the customer; consider your differentiators and what sets you apart from the competition, Hadwin says. She frequently utilizes customer surveys as a way to gauge this.
Outline the work that your business performs, and the various services you offer. Identify your goals for customer service in every department, and the specific strategies used to execute on those goals. One of the most common issues in dealerships is walls between different departments, Hadwin says, and your mission statement is a way to bring everyone together.
“If you can make a good impression in one department, they tend to want to trust you with wanting to come to a different department. That’s the beauty of a dealership, but it’s a double-edged sword,” Hadwin says. “The idea of a one-stop shop with your new cars, used cars, parts, service, detail department—all of that is great but if one department is not doing its best then it can pull the other departments down. ... We’ve got to humanize each manager and make them see that the success of the whole depends on each one of us.”
STEP #3: Define your customers.
Define who your customer base is, and the demographic you plan to target with your marketing services. Without a clear understanding of that, you could end up making questionable advertising and marketing decisions. You’ll waste money on efforts that don’t bring in the type of customers you wanted.
For Hadwin, Hadwin-White has been in business for more than 30 years with a steady presence in the community—but that South Carolina community has a transient population with many new residents arriving trying to escape the cold. This means there are frequently new customers coming through the fixed operations departments.
“We can’t just count on what we’ve done in the past. We’re constantly making new relationships and making new introductions to people,” she says.
“There’s nothing new to wanting people to be completely satisfied but actually achieving it is something that takes a lot of effort.”
STEP #4: Get it down on paper and meet with your team.
Start writing out these elements of your mission statement. Ideally, the mission statement would fit on one page, Hadwin says. This forces you to translate long descriptions of where you want to go into a few words that your staff and customers can quickly see and understand. At Hadwin-White, the mission statement is as follows: Our mission is to daily direct our very best team and individual effort in sales, service and support to our past, present and future customers so they are completely satisfied.
“It encompasses what we’re doing,” Hadwin says. “We’re a team but to be a good team we all individually have to contribute our part for that team.”
STEP #5: Communicate your mission statement.
Make sure your mission statement is communicated once it’s created. Successful businesses are the ones that put their mission statement out for every employee and customer to see throughout their facilities and on their websites, Hadwin says. Everyone who comes in contact with your business should be able to easily see how you plan to deliver on your values and goals every day.
Hadwin and her father, the dealership’s owner, frequently walk through the different departments and hand out cash to the employees that know themission statement.
STEP #6: Use the mission statement as a guide.
Hadwin uses customer surveys to gauge if the customer experience aligns with the missions statement, and she also references the mission statements in employee and manager meetings, where they review processes and discuss any potential challenges. In addition, Hadwin will frequently ask managers to bring an article or a quote that aligns with the mission and can serve as inspiration or motivation for the team.
“What are words that are important to motivate whatever department you come from?” she says. “It’s about developing that healthy communication. That’s something I implore to all of our employees.”
Ultimately, creating a mission statement can also help business leaders develop a clear path toward achieving future business goals by focusing on who they are, what they want to be, and how well they’re achieving their business objectives.