Solid advice from a successful dealership manager
As I sat down to write this month’s article searching for a useful topic, I began pondering all the experiences I could write about from visiting dealerships in just the last month, as I was helping them identify strategic and tactical profit solutions to enhance their business. My mind became fogged with trying to decide as to which subject would be most important to you, the reader, that you could utilize in your store. Over and over again I switched subjects because there were so many areas that were identified as ‘inhibitors’ to these stores’ economic growth. Among the inhibitor highlights from sales and service were: the lacking proper procedures and processes, low gross profits, non- leadership, service advisors not trained in sales skills, non-growing employees and managers, no clarity of mission and goals, non-engaged employees, wasteful expenditures, attrition and so on the list grew and grew.
Just as I was about to land upon a topic, I received an email from a dealership manager out in Texas, which in my opinion was worthy of sharing with you. I found it very interesting to hear from a dealership perspective in terms of what they actually recognized as a few of the various needs for improvement in their store. I felt what he had to say would trump any one subject I would eventually land on simply because these strong points come from the heart of our industry, the store itself. I find it refreshing, as I trust you will as well, to see how mature this manager advances the professional instincts worthy of any successful dealership or enterprise.
See if you can align with his comments:
Chuck, it was good to hear from you yesterday. It is always great to speak to a true professional and to someone who has the pulse of our industry today. There is so much need out there today in the way of conducting our business in order to return the professionalism our industry once possessed. I am speaking at the dealership level. So many times we think we have what it takes when in reality we are going about our business in all the wrong ways. We feel self-important and are not seeing the overall picture, this breeds complacency and arrogance. I will always believe this is a people business and we just happen to have automobiles as our wares. Our success is defined by our public not by our own internal standards.
How we approach our customers and turn them into lifelong repeat customers is of the utmost importance, we must turn this relationship in to a generational relationship. There is nothing better than to see a salesperson say “this is the tenth vehicle I have helped this family purchased” . The old adage treat others as you wish to be treated yourself could never be more evident than in our business and profession. I intend to sit down and write my views of our business in today’s climate and I would like very much your input and insight into my endeavor. I thank you for taking the time to speak to myself and lending me your knowledge. It takes great courage and stamina to implement change, but only thru knowledge are we able to accomplish our goal.
Your insight is always welcome and always on the mark. In our dealership culture today we get too busy to walk around and observe what is really happening around us, or so we think we are too busy or we just don’t want to see what is happening. My belief is that most of our management, not all, but for the most part forget where it all began for them, up to and including the dealer principal. You are right on the mark when you say that every day we should go out and talk and greet EVERY employee that is in our dealership, and I mean EVERY employee. Our people are here because we need them, and we need them to be happy to be here.
Tell them you are glad they are here and they are important to the overall success of our dealership. This attitude transcends to our customers which is our lifeline. Most believe that our dealership which is brick and mortar, glass, is what brings in the business because it has a presence from the roadway. This idea could not be farther from the truth. The truth is our people are the presence that attracts business, our people are our attitude that projects our emotions and feelings to our public. Our people are what a dealership is. In a competitive market, our people are always our greatest asset and our greatest chance at being successful. Be out there mingling with your people and you also will be happier and have a better attitude, anything less is old school management, get with it. Chuck, keep the good words coming, we all need a wakeup call now and then. Thanks again.
I feel his testimony yields some rock solid advice for all of us. We do tend to be in a rush to complete this or that and often this ‘busyness’ ties us up and prevents us from seeing clearly where we should be investing some quality time – with our team.
Purpose and passion go hand in hand. To be an effective leader, you must first show you care. When you care deeply, you have a passion that is more than simply the spark that gets you started; it is the fire inside that will sustain you. It is a commitment so compelling that you’re whole self — body, mind, and spirit — are engaged. Passion is not the same as a single-minded determination to get what you want or to create the changes you think should be made. Rather, passion for a higher purpose is characterized by the openness to possibilities and the innate belief that people want to work together as a team to create the best future imaginable. Passion plus possibilities gives you courage! Courage allows you to take a vision and turn it into reality.
I have an idea I would like to share with you. I enjoyed the manager’s testimonial so much it dawned on me that we should be hearing from more of you sharing your internal experiences and ideas for strengthening the dealership or even problematic issues. I can keep your commentary confidential if you wish. So, please consider emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your ideas or observations and perhaps we can share them to help others. If nothing else, I will try to provide you with my personal feedback on your piece and send you a guideline for leadership in your store. Thanks!