Its September 30, 1982, and Cheers premiers to a dismal rating of 77th out of 100 shows that week, according to Nielsen.  It took the president of NBC, Fran Tartikoff to save the show from cancellation.  For those who have watched this series, it may come as a great surprise, especially considering its 11 seasons and 275 episodes.  What was it about Cheers that almost caused its demise, what could have possibly caused audiences to be turned off.   One item that became clear was that viewers complained that the “laugh track” was too loud.  However, Cheers was filmed in front of a live audience, yet it took until a year later before viewers knew.  It seems that NBC didn’t realize that viewers didn’t know the “laugh track,” a separate soundtrack for a recorded comedy show containing the sound of audience laughter, was, in reality, a live audience response.  Some believe that this disclosure helped Cheers not only achieve their 11-season run but also win 28 Primetime Emmy nominations as well.

“Word Tracks” are the “Laugh Track” of training, let’s face it they are a separate soundtrack that someone else wrote in their voice to represent what they think we should say and when we should say it.

It’s now 2007 I am sitting in my office after just starting with a new dealer group and in walks the trainer from a well known Big-Box F&I provider with, what I’m hoping are some profound words of wisdom.  We exchange the standard greetings and introductions, and we review each of our backgrounds, the 1-minute resume if you prefer.  After a little discussion, he introduces me to my first experience with “word tracks” by simply laying a packet on my desk.  With great curiosity, I begin to review them looking for those profound words of wisdom.  Will these “word tracks” become my “Holy Grail”?  Are they the final answer I have been looking for?  Will they finally make my customers see the light of why our products are meant for them!  His moment arrives, I am now sitting on the edge of my seat in great expectation, give it to me straight show me the way, let me see the light, I am ready!  For it’s these words that I will never forget, these words that have been burned into my psyche, “remember these and use them with your customers.”  That’s it, that’s all, nothing more than remember these and use them?

How long do we have to endure someone else telling us how and when we should talk?  Are they sitting on our shoulder while the customer is in front of us in such that these word tracks will always “hit home” and the customer immediately understands the need for our products, the simple answer is No!  Many companies and trainers have a know it all complex; you can tell when you say that “their way” or “word tracks” didn’t work in a situation.  They become incensed and admonish us by saying just follow the process, use the word tracks “they always work.”  They don’t realize that word tracks cannot anticipate every scenario that F&I people encounter and in some instances nor have they thought about how our society has changed, especially when it comes to the needs of instant gratification with social media.

Today more than ever it is critical we stay engaged with our customers, don’t merely use a canned speech or “word track,” don’t look away hoping for a response because you said something provocative.  It’s time we as trainers taught our F&I managers how to engage in conversation, yes conversation a time-honored tradition that will help us truly understand their needs and you know what while we’re at it, developing rapport is not a bad thing either.  Stop presenting “word tracks” that need to “be remembered verbatim or a process that has to be followed to a T.  Remember word tracks are merely a tool to help them find their path.  Help them work through their process their “word tracks,” make them take ownership in finding their voice, and they will become agile enough to handle all that comes their way.  This concept is the core foundation of our training at Risk Theory Dealer advisors.   It takes awareness, understanding, and practice, to effect change.  When you empower people to develop their own path that change is effortless to achieve with results that exceed expectations.  Ready to find out what Risk Theory Dealer Advisors can do for you?  Contact us today!


David Lavrich is the VP of Training for Risk Theory Dealer Advisors