A Parallel Between Velocity Dealers and Chicago Public Schools

September 14, 2012

You can’t really go too long in Chicago these days without hearing about the teacher strike. It’s a water cooler topic here at vAuto and it has been the lead story for radio and TV newscasts here all week.

Chicago teachers flood State Street

As I’ve followed the news, I’ve been struck by how the current stand-off between Chicago school administrators and teachers mirrors the experience of many velocity dealers.

Here’s what I mean: Chicago school administrators want better and more measurable results from their teachers. They are pushing to use student performance on standardized tests as a key component of assessing a teacher’s performance. The teachers, meanwhile, believe test scores are an inaccurate and unreliable gauge of whether they’re doing a “good job” every day in their classrooms.

To me, this scenario is a close match for a challenge velocity dealers face as they apply velocity metrics and principles in their used vehicle operations. It’s not uncommon for these dealers to encounter resistance from used vehicle managers and others who do not believe that market-based metrics can adequately gauge whether they are doing a “good job” in used vehicle departments.

Thankfully, measuring the performance of a used vehicle department is less dicey than assessing the outcomes of a teacher’s efforts in a classroom. The market definitively discloses whether decisions to buy, recondition, merchandise and sell used vehicles advance a dealer’s goals for sales volumes and profitability and constitute a “good job.”

The current dilemma in Chicago is that school administrators and teachers currently lack agreement on “market measures” that would objectively and fairly assess in-classroom performance.

As a parent who has reviewed standardized tests from a variety of schools, I share teachers’ concerns that aggregated test scores may not fully indicate whether they’re doing a “good job” for their students. I also recognize that teachers, like velocity dealers and their used vehicle managers, will eventually need to more fully embrace the rising tide of accountability that’s increasingly essential for businesses and governments to satisfy their owners, shareholders, customers and citizens.

I’m hopeful the standoff between Chicago teachers and administrators ends soon and everyone can get back to the business of preparing kids for a bright future.