What is for the good of the store is sometimes an unpopular choice for the employees. It requires them to do more than what they are currently doing.  It asks them to solve problems, take initiative, and complete more tasks.  It is very common that salespeople will care more about what is “in it for them” than what is in the best interest of the dealership.  At no point should a salesperson’s unwillingness to execute tasks supersede what is in the best interest of the dealership.

Creating policies that benefit the dealership often ruffles feathers.  Sadly, a disgruntled sales force scares dealers more than the absence of customers nowadays.  The inmates run the asylums at far too many dealerships.  What is for the good of the store often is a sales team that tows the line and follows the commands of wise management.  They adhere to company policies, mandates, and processes to create the best situation for a profitable, sustainable company.  Ownership must not be scared of the pushback when it comes time to pushing their people for better performance.

Accordingly, Sales Management and Used Car Management must adhere to the newer processes and technological ways if it is best for the store as well.   We are in an ever-changing industry and the tried-and-true methods from the 80’s and 90’s are no longer tried nor true.  They have evolved and sales volume, profitability, vehicle turn, and reputation will all suffer if a more streamlined, advanced, intuitive process is not adopted now.  Salespeople and Management must be willing to utilize all of the technology provided to them in an effort to increase productivity, accountability, and thoroughness in the marketplace.

This is a plea to get away from the ego-driven power plays we hold so dear.  No more sabotaging tactics or technologies that serve the greater good.  No more petty bickering.  It is common to see management play politics, not reinforce best practices, and turn a blind eye to negative behavior all in an effort to thwart forward-minded thinking.  Strategies evolve.  Yet, even though it can be proven that executing additional, technology-focused tasks can have a positive impact on a dealer’s bottom line, if it interferes with the historical rhetoric from a manager in the store, the tactic is discarded and disregarded.  Even if the manager or salesperson realizes they are in the wrong, if a new “best practice” contradicts what they’ve been spouting to be true, they will work to sabotage it.  People would rather save face and lose money than swallow their pride and make a killing when it comes to advancing their beliefs and efforts.  This must stop. No more politics or grandstanding in an effort to keep smart business down.

Salespeople must recognize this is not their job, but a career.  They must strive to learn.  Strive to do better.  Strive to master new selling strategies.  Strive to utilize the resources and tools they’re given.  There is no one to blame for an 8-car month, but themselves.  With that said, managers must manage.  And to manage people, you must hold them accountable to their tasks, reward them with positive reinforcement, and punish them when they falter.  There is no need to have a manager if they are unwilling to truly manage their people to do it better.  Moreover, no one should be given the designation (and responsibility) of manager if they’re unwilling to execute the technological and management duties of their own position either.  Not if the duties asked of them are, once again, for the good of the store.

Some employees may not like change.  They already fight tooth and nail to prevent it.  We must champion the understanding that the needs of the store are more important than the egos of the employees.  People must learn to do it better.  When it comes to embracing technology or innovative tactics, it is time everyone realizes that what is for the good of the store will, in the end, help them as well.  Doing good doesn’t just happen.  Doing good takes work.

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Comment by Stan Sher on January 31, 2013 at 4:01pm

Good job Joseph!

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on January 27, 2013 at 2:07am

I think the coin has two sides. I am in full agreement that dealers have every right, and legal / fiscal obligation to ensure that their staff stay with the times and view their role as a professional, rather than just an employee. However, dealers also perpetuate the 'car-dog' mentality by NOT treating their sales force like the professional account managers they desire. Nearly all pay plans are structured to guarantee that only the craftiest survive. I have seen stores that have whittled salesperson profits with 'packs', outrageous dealer fees, and ridiculous reconditioning costs to the point where there is little chance of long-term success playing 'by the rules'.

Ultimately, they don't end up with a trustworthy group of educated pros, they get a revolving door of naïve newbys or old-school crusty salespeople. Dealers want to change the status quo of their staff, when THEIR status quo needs a reboot.

Comment by Marsh Buice on January 25, 2013 at 10:40pm
Nice job Joe:)
Comment by Emil Whittle on January 25, 2013 at 4:17pm

Great read I agree with you! New climate vs the status quo.

Comment by Chris W. Williams on January 25, 2013 at 4:13pm

Great discussion on leadership issues. Let me postulate a third possibility. I am sure we have seen instances where the manager was not allowed to “manage” by his boss. He was the manager in name only. Reality is that some of the salespeople who were on the floor were friends of the managers’ boss and were allowed to do as they please. The assumption is made looking from the outside in that the manager needs to be replaced when in reality he just needs to be allowed to do the job he was hired to do. Not everything is as obvious as it seems.
Joe, you right on as to some Dealers do not like change. We also know in a static environment stagnation starts taking place, ideas are muffled and business as usual becomes no business at all. This goes back on the inaction of the dealer as well. New people come in full of ambition and ready to conquer the world and then reins are placed on them to hold them back. Again a leadership issue. Nothing inhibits enthusiasm more than failure to implement new and noteworthy ideas.

Comment by Joe Webb on January 25, 2013 at 3:47pm

Thanks to all...
Chris - While we know they need a new manager, most dealer operators prefer to not rock the boat because they don't have enough faith the sales force can be changed. And yet replacing a sales force is easier said than done also.

Duane - I'm in agreement with you on leadership.  The problem is that most dealers naturally expect all of their managers to be quality leaders, but it is so rarely the case.

Michael - Facts and proof will usually change ownership mind.  Unfortunately, data doesn't always have the same effect on those in management and sales positions.  People in those roles prefer to romanticize the past rather than fight toward the future.

Comment by Chris W. Williams on January 25, 2013 at 3:30pm

So very true. When the team is in charge of the manager, you either need a new team, or more likely a new manager.

Comment by Duane Sanders on January 25, 2013 at 3:30pm

Joe this is all well said. I would also say that the people who are on board "for the good of the store" are definitely our leaders. We all know you do not have to be a manager to be a leader. Find your leaders and reward them. You will love the outcome.

Comment by Michael Baker on January 25, 2013 at 3:29pm

Very well articulated Joe. Know this narrative quite well in experience. The 'key' to gain support is akin to so many 'buy-ins', via the leadership of conveyance from the start, with all pertinent/key management presented initially. When facts, testimonials, and yes, value to Mgt and support staff  can be provided, win-win likely. Tactful monitoring daily is essential once executed, obviously to sustain...

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