Dealer Consultants

When good management is not enough

Spring has sprung, and the selling season is here! There are products to retail, goals to meet and competition to outshine. I was recently talking to a dealer principal about his direction for the coming selling season. Our conversation centered on the impending removal of his parts manager after more than 20 years. After two decades, what happened?

The parts manager in question had all the job knowledge and skills that one would expect of someone in his position. He managed his department well. Employees were scheduled, parts were ordered and merchandise was tidy. The department was stable. But that hadn’t been enough for some time now. 

The principal recognized that the departing employee was a good manager. However, it was also true that this parts manager did not motivate his crew to do a superior job. What skills he may have possessed in this regard were at least rusty, as they were not consistently utilized. His inability to effectively inspire and lead his team deeply impacted his performance. This manager had no fire, no excitement and no forward movement. In the end, the parts manager’s satisfaction with the status quo effectively lost him his job. 

As I reflect on my own dealership and those of my peers, I am reminded of how much there is to do and how much passion there is in doing it. I am also reminded of how, at times, we principals overlook our weaknesses and underestimate what it will take to strengthen them. The departure of the parts manager stemmed from a stagnation that was nurtured with acceptance of the status quo. Often we dealers neglect training and motivating only because it is easy to do so. 

This principal overlooked and underestimated. He overlooked what needed to be done to keep his crew progressing. He trusted that his manager’s knowledge and skills were all that was necessary do a good job. However, he really needed a manager who could also motivate and lead a team. It was easy to underestimate what it would take to continually develop a team that would be exceptional and outshine the competition. 

What is your budget for training and mentoring your team this year? Do you even have a budget for this? You, the principal, are ultimately responsible for bringing this often-neglected item to the front burner. You do yourself and your team a great disservice if you overlook ways to improve your shop and underestimate what it takes to excel. Stagnation and the status quo are too easy, and they are crippling. 

Continue to envision the future. Train your staff for excellence. It won’t happen on its own; you must lead the way. You, your employees and your customers will all reap the rewards.

 The art of choosing men is not nearly so difficult as the art of enabling those one has chosen to attain their full worth. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

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