25 Things Veteran Managers Need to Hear


25 Things Veteran Managers Need to Hear

(But don’t want to…)

In life, we all need someone to just tell us the hard truth.  Even when it’s something we really don’t want  to know.  Call it tough love, a reality check, or the ugly truth..  It is what it is.

My wife is talented beyond measure in this department.  For example, if it is apparent that I need a Kleenex (I think you know what I mean) my wife will give me a subtle elbow to the ribs and say, “Hey Batman, you have a bat in the cave.”  She finds this un-naturally entertaining, I might add.  The next exchange goes a little like this.




“Still there.”


“Got it.”


But even though I am a little embarrassed, I’m glad I didn’t walk around the party for two hours with an uninvited guest hanging out of my nostril like a baby kangaroo.

The bottom line is this.  The longer that you have been in the car business, the more you need this list.  You are guaranteed to disagree with me on some or all of this list.  It’s just my opinion.  Remember, I’m the guy who can’t even keep his nose clean…

  1. Quit worrying about the number of leads you’re getting and worry about HOW your handling the leads you currently have. There’s a good chance you’ve got this backwards.
  2. Trust me, you’re not spending enough time or money on training. How about consistently spending wasted, untracked advertising dollars on good training?
  3. Quit worrying so much about Average Gross Profit per unit and start measuring Spread. (Published Internet Price minus What you actually ended up selling it for, including under/over allowance.) You’ll find out who your strong ones are.
  4. There is practically no such thing as a “Walk-In” or “Drive By”.  Assume all of your customers are from the internet.  You’ll only be wrong 1 out of 10 times.
  5. You don’t HAVE to use 900lbGorilla.com. I think we all know the providers I’m talking about.  You have the ability to create more of your own leads, you know.
  6. Stop generalizing about advertising. (“XYZ never works” or “ABC always works”) It’s all in the offer.
  7. Stop using clichés: “This is the way we’ve always done it.”  “We tried that once and it didn’t work.”  “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  I don’t care if they’re true, I’m just sick of hearing them.
  8. Stop only looking at your desktop when thinking about your website.  Wake up, we live in a handheld world.  The average person looks at their mobile device 104 times a day.
  9. Quit procrastinating on using video to communicate with customers.  Start creating a video culture, now.
  10. You DON’T need more inventory. You DO need better inventory. This IS a net profit thing, right?
  11. Shut up about having to give cars away on the internet.  It’s getting old and it’s making you look silly.  No matter how loud you cry, the internet is not going away.  Just make sure your customers don’t.
  12. Stop managing petty things and start managing your people’s habits and expectation levels.  People produce exactly what they expect to produce.
  13. Stop saying that Facebook doesn’t sell cars.  Read “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuk.  He is smarter than you.
  14. Start treating your employees better.  Get them involved.  We all want to feel like a part of something bigger.
  15. Quit being lazy and implement a strict aging policy and a turn policy on your vehicles. Quit managing cars and start managing parking spaces and ROI on your inventory dollars. Does the term “Holding Cost” mean anything to you?
  16. Get your cars cleaned and online within 48 hours of getting them. If your vehicle is not online with pictures, thoughtful pricing, and good descriptions, it’s invisible to EVERYONE but you. (and your floorplan company)
  17. Stop talking so much about units. Start talking about net profit.  This goes for vendors, too.
  18. Your pay-plans probably suck.  I just said probably.  I have seen poorly constructed pay plans derail good intentions.
  19. Start treating your Internet/BDC Department like a REAL Department.  If 90% of your customers are online, why are you spending 10% of your time thinking about this department.  The Internet Manager needs to be treated and paid like the rest of your managers.
  20. Take off your bib and put on an apron. Practice servant management.  Serve, serve, listen, listen. Cook your damn employees a hamburger, for goodness sake!
  21. Start paying more attention to retention.  Quit ignoring your OWN dealership’s owner base.  Your sitting on a treasure chest.  Get off your butt and open it.
  22. Start listening to your incoming phone calls.  Just make sure there are no sharp objects nearby.  Then hold your vendors accountable for REAL number of leads.
  23. There’s a sales GOLDMINE on your service drive right now.  Next time you’re bored, count the number of ROs in your service department versus the amount of showroom traffic for the month. Where’s the opportunities?
  24. Stop teaching the “Silent Appraisal”.  While you’re at it, stop using VHS tapes, Sony Walkmans, and rotary dial phones.
  25. Stop getting upset when someone hires the superstar you developed.  It’s the ultimate compliment. When people leave you better than they came, you’re doing your job and your company is getting better.

I hope I didn’t ruffle your feathers.  I just don’t want you walking around with a bat in the cave.

Who’s your Danny?




sales managers, general managers, automotive management, digital marketing, leadership, dealership culture, internet sales

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Comment by Danny Benites on June 2, 2014 at 3:16pm

Thank you Charles!  Agree on the great comments!  I love when we can spark some healthy conversation.  Appreciate your input!

Comment by Charles Sullivan on June 2, 2014 at 2:59pm


Great post and lots of excellent comments.  

Comment by Danny Benites on June 2, 2014 at 11:36am


I agree with the 'Deaf Ears' comment. (Hence the funny graphic on my blog)  These are all things that most upper management and ownership really don't want to hear because it goes against a lot of principles they were taught.  Customers have changed, employees have changed, but for some reason, we haven't (as much as we should). Being a thirty year car guy, I can attest to the fact that even old dogs can learn new tricks, if they'll just take their fingers out of their ears.

My hope is that GMs and Dealers read this blog and it begins to sink in.  

Comment by Pat Kirley on June 2, 2014 at 7:30am
I agree totally, but in dealerships, it's like politics if the government party don't agree it won't happen. You can convey your ideas but they usually fall on deaf ears. I'm sure you have spoken with consultant who will tell you they tell the owner what they know they want to hear to get repeat business, remember the current way got the owner where he is today.
Comment by Danny Benites on June 1, 2014 at 10:09pm
Great stuff! I agree with you on the insecurity of most managers in our profession. Fear causes them to shun new ideas. I look for traits like humility, servanthood, and a willingness to learn when I am looking for leaders in my organization. Unwillingness to take direction from inside or outside the business scares me. Thanks again for reading and your insight.
Comment by Danny Benites on June 1, 2014 at 10:03pm
Thanks. It has certainly opened mine over the years.
Comment by Danny Benites on June 1, 2014 at 10:02pm
I'm always amazed when management isn't even aware of what their competition is doing online. Customers are comparing prices, why aren't we?
Comment by Brian Bennington on June 1, 2014 at 8:58pm

Roaringly funny, "Batman."  A good afternoon laugh!  How is it that you have enough "discharge" coming out of your nose that you and your wife have a "routine" for it?  Never mind.  If there's a scientific or medical explanation, I don't want to know it.  Frankly, it's just another condition I thank God I don't have.

As to your "25 Things," they made me uncomfortable reading them and I'm not even a manager!  Perusing your bio and noting that you are, I think it's swell that you've taken time to illuminate the "sins" of management.  Thinking about things a manager needs to hear but doesn't want to, a good number "26" might be, "If you talk to me again like that, job or no job, I'm gonna be on you like last year's underware!" or "There's a large group of angry customers with clubs out front and they want to talk to you!"  Hey, the list is endless!

Hating to get serious but feeling I should to honor your "confessional blog," my experience makes me believe that managers, in general, don't want suggestions from the "outside."  And, over the past 20 years, they've become more and more resentful and suspicious of anyone offering suggestions to increase their work load or expenses, even if it promises to improve their business.  One reason for this cynicism is very likely the increasing number of "pitches" they get from an ever expanding number of IT vendors preaching a lot of technical crap "guaranteed to make big numbers" they don't quite understand.  You've gotta admit, the business is loading up with so much BS you better wear hip boots into the dealership!  Thanks, Danny.  It was a lot of fun!                    

Comment by Mike Elliott on June 1, 2014 at 9:41am

Great article Danny. This simple list should open a lot of eyes.

Comment by Jeff Mayernik on June 1, 2014 at 1:12am

#11 Yes, please. We have a sales manager who is completely in denial, we know there are dealers 3 hours away who will go $1800 back of invoice on the second email but he acts amazed every time it comes up.

#6 The weakest words any manager can use are 'always', 'never', 'everybody' and 'nobody'

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