Guest Post: The Secret Behind a 1920’s Factory And How To Improve Your Dealership

1920s factory


I  apologize for sleeping on posting this awesome guest post by my man Mike Haeg.  He has taught me a tonne of great things when it comes to the importance of the phone in the dealership AND with my own sales team.- RT



Imagine a dingy factory in the outskirts of Chicago in 1922.

An ambitious manager has an idea for improving productivity: brighter lights! He thinks that a well-lit workspace will lead to fewer mistakes and better morale. The manager wants real data to prove the success of his new idea, so he installs a guy with a clipboard to monitor the workers on the day he cranks up the lights.

Productivity shot way up, and our manager is a hero. Better lighting produced better workers.

Or did it?

A skeptical professor asked if he could try something different. He came in and turned the lights down to the lowest setting. Now the factory was even darker than it had ever been. But the professor also made it a point to include the clipboard guy to observe the resulting behavior.

Guess what happened. Yep, productivity went up again. It turns out that the real hero was the person who was monitoring the results. When the workers knew they were being measured, they were better workers. It had nothing to do with the lighting.

This experiment took place in Hawthorne Works, a Western Electricity factory. The revelation became known as the Hawthorne Effect, which states that subjects improve or modify an aspect of behavior that is being experimentally measured in response to the awareness that the behavior is being studied.

Peter Drucker, the famous management guru, reworded this concept into his signature line, “What gets measured gets managed.” Similarly, diet counselors know that the most effective way to improve a client’s eating routine is to simply have the person keep a log of everything he eats. The awareness of writing down “3:24p – entire bag of M&Ms” will restrain from you reaching into the candy drawer.

Here’s a little secret. The Hawthorne Effect is the reason phone call tracking programs have such a high success rate. Before you spend any money training your team on the phone, try a simple experiment. Ask everyone to jot down a one-line summary of all calls they place and all calls they receive. Occasionally sit down next to people and observe their calls.

Do this experiment for two days. That’s easy, right?

I’m willing to bet lunch that your team will magically become more effective on the phone. They’ll deliberately guide inbound calls toward appointments and even confirm the exact date / time.  They’ll offer directions to the dealership.  They’ll triple the number of times they pick up the phone and (gasp!) place an outbound call to a customer. It’s the Hawthorne Effect, working in your favor.

There we go. I’ve spoiled the secret sauce of why call tracking programs are so effective.

If you enjoyed this insight, sign up for our 8 part series that helps dealers “Own the Phone.”  You’ve completed Lesson 1, so just click HERE and to get Lesson 2!

I’d love to hear any questions or feedback.  Don’t hesitate to reach out.


Mike Haeg

Century Interactive – Director of Business Development





General Manager at Ernie Dean Chevrolet Buick GMC in Alliston, ON. Sharing with you everything I can about the car business.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.