Why is it that it can sometimes takes dramatic events to cause real change? Are we stubborn, arrogant, greedy — or just slow to change?

Take, for example, the sales and service relationship in a typical auto dealership.

With rare exception, sales and service not only don’t communicate, but they don’t even like each other.

When you look at why this would happen, on the surface it’s easy to see how it happens. If you conducted personality tests, mechanics and salespeople couldn’t be more opposite. Second, because owners always want each department to be profitable, they don’t align the pay plans; in fact, in some cases they actually drove them apart.

Now we look at the catalyst of change: in this case, COVID-19.

Through all the challenges that happened during the pandemic, dealers had to adapt, whether it was reduced inventory, fewer employees or a smaller budget.

Now, good dealers are by their very nature adaptable and resilient. In many cases, dealers were more profitable than ever before, and in fact, in many cases those dealers had record years in 2022.

What changed the most for them?

Dealers discovered that all departments needed to work together as one team — just to survive.

The relationship between sales and service became not one of competitors, but rather one of partnership, whether it was driving traffic to both sales and service together or finding some much-needed inventory in each place.

Not only can partnering with service allow you the opportunity to find new inventory for your used-car lot, these are your best and most loyal customers, because they bought their car new from your dealership.

That makes them “homegrown” and they provide the most sought-after, best-selling, most-profitable inventory there is. The ironic part is that partnership potential was there all along, it just took — once again — a dramatic event to revive it.

Today’s dealerships look and feel a lot different than they did before COVID-19, but the teamwork and efficiency that were created in those dark days are hopefully here to stay.

Just remember: A rising tide raises all ships!

Robert Grill is senior partner development manager at CARFAX.