Managing For Success

As a dealer in this postmodern world, you’re not on a playing field; you’re on a battlefield. The difference between success and failure is most often found within decisions made by managers and the vision of your leadership.

Every dealership needs to take an honest look at the way they are managed. Thousands of dealers operate with blinders on, which always leads to disappointment if not complete business loss. This mentality actually avoids management and has no chance against the Godzilla-sized problems facing every dealer in the country right now.

Managers make big decisions. Hiring and firing decisions, vendor decisions (who to keep, who to cut, who to add), advertising and marketing decisions, decisions on what to buy at auctions and pricing used inventory, decisions on how to process incoming Internet leads, website decisions, decisions on training and education initiatives and so on and so on.

Bad managers don’t recognize or even see the need for tools that track sales efforts; they don’t know how to determine the value of their vendors; they don’t understand what advertising and marketing choices return the best results; they don’t know what their ratio is between their showroom traffic and their Internet traffic; they don’t know what makes a good website (or even know why their website exists); they don’t know when they need training; and they don’t know how to hold trained employees accountable. Managers such as these should not be managing in today’s dealership.

Great managers, of course, do all of the above well because their experience, knowledge, abilities, and talents match the needs of the position. They know the strengths and weaknesses of those he or she manages and they will position their employees to play to their strengths, not their weaknesses. A great manager knows what days showroom traffic is at its peak and cross-trains sales people for traditional showroom sales as well as Internet sales. A great manager tracks salespeople’s response times, follow up discipline, appointment setting ratio, closing ratio, and uses data to help the dealership thrive, not just survive.

Again, good management is a dilemma for many dealerships because stores are being managed by people who’s greatest strength is not managing.

Here are some helpful tips:

• Choosing to keep an employee should be based on the fact that their abilities, strengths, and talents match your needs and that they are well utilized to make your business successful.

• Keep and/or add vendors that increase sales conversion. Now more than ever, vendor choices need to based on ROI. A good vendor will stand behind their product or service not by forcing long-term contracts. Having the best tools available is useless if there is not proven process for them.

• Make cuts in places like newspaper, television, and radio. If you spend more than $5,000 a month in any of these areas, separately or combined, sharpen your axe and start hacking!

• Manage your processes or you will make bad decisions. If you don’t know how to effectively communicate with your customers (especially online), you will not be able to identify good leads vs. bad leads. You won’t know why one CRM tool fits your business needs vs. another. Solid processes give you critical management tools like visibility, accountability, and responsibility.

• If you are the dealer/owner/Dealer Principle, do some self-examination related to your leadership skills and abilities. If you aren’t the one casting the vision for how the business moves forward, who is? A leader must exist.

Properly managing your people and processes is one of the biggest keys to your dealership’s success. Just signing up for the latest and greatest product of service will do nothing to help you if the wrong people work for you or if you have the right people in the wrong roles. Dealership success stories always have two things in common, great management and great leadership.

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