Leadership never goes away. You may lead without knowing you are doing so. You may lead without plan. You may lead by example, or maybe it’s osmosis. The one thing about leadership: it never disappears. It can happen by default. Imagine that!
Where are you leading? After all, your team is following you. You are the motivation. You are Mr. Positive, Mr. Example and the driver of the bus! You set the bar high, or low … or maybe just at status quo.
It can be quite amazing what you hear in a dealership. One thing is certain: more often than not, what you hear started at the top or somewhere in that vicinity. If it’s positive and rewarding, if it’s your team expecting more of themselves because of your inspiration, great! At the same time, misery loves company, and they will follow you there, too.
It’s startling how perceptions differ from one dealer to the next, and how the dealer’s team responds to those perceptions. I was on a dealer visit recently and was doing my normal “How are things?” I got the same answer from the counter kid all the way to the GM: “We can just keep things the same.” Keeping things the same was not said with joy, by the way.
Leadership by default was in action. “Let’s stay the same” is where everyone was headed. Every team member top to bottom had the same expectation: status quo.
That same day I visited another dealership. Expectation levels were totally different. They were going to grow, come hell or high water. Everyone was sold on this, bottom to top. One goal: success! This was leadership in action: we are going to make it happen: we all expect a lot of ourselves in everything we all do: and we expect it daily. No excuses. They all believe that they can and will make that difference.
Everyone needs to believe that they can lead. This doesn’t mean making management decisions. Take initiative at every level. Implement the company vision. Reach those common goals. Whether your vision is to “just keep things the same” or to go wide open as hard as you can, your team will live up to your expectations.
So here is an idea to raise the bar of expectation. It won’t cost you anything, just a little time. Each day every team member makes three calls aside from the usual. First, call one past customer who hasn’t been in for a while. Invite him in and wish him well. Second, call one current customer. Thank him for his business and ask for a referral. Third, call one prospect. Introduce yourself, invite him in and wish him well. Old fashioned, but effective.
Commit to this for one year and hold your team accountable for it. All departments will increase in gross, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this before.
Mark Mooney is a 35-year veteran of the motorsports industry. He is the principal of Mohala Motorsports Consulting, which offers mentoring and training for dealer principals and their staffs, improving profitability while inspiring a positive workplace. Mark is the former owner of a multi-line metric OEM dealership in California.