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Dealership Family Values

General sales manager offers three tips for treating employees like family — without all the drama.

In our business, employees are like family. We enjoy victories and suffer defeats together. We celebrate new additions and grieve when loved ones are lost. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together, and we talk about our personal lives, our hopes, our dreams. Even when we’re not at work, social media and text messages ensure we are always connected.

Many dealers take tremendous pride in the fact that they have a high percentage of long-term employees. In those stores, the family dynamic is even more apparent. But as much as the dealership is like a second home, it is still a business. People get hired and then quit or get fired or laid off, sometimes without warning.

With all that in mind, let’s discuss some ways to stay close — but not too close — to our dealership families.

1. Watch the Level of Personal Talk.

We all have our kid issues, spouse issues and housing issues, and they are bound to reveal themselves at work. It’s only natural to want to lend a sympathetic ear and share advice. But as writer and radio personality Earl Nightingale once said, “You are what you think about.” The more focus you put on discussing personal problems, the less likely you are to have a successful, productive day.

This is not to say that you should cut people off mid-sentence. The next time an employee unloads on you, be sympathetic, find a positive note, and walk away. You want to be known as a good listener, but you’re not a therapist, and you cannot afford to spend your work hours trying to solve other people’s problems.

2. Build a Team, Not a Family.

Getting people together outside the store for fun and food is a great way to build comradery. Whether it’s an after-work drink, a baseball game or a company picnic, treat your staff to a good time, and remember: the more the merrier. The bigger the group, the fewer chances for deep, personal conversations. Whenever possible, ask everyone to bring their real families. 

3. Make Social Media and Texting a Safe Zone.

Most of us have a large Facebook group, and most dealers encourage activity that generates “likes” for the company pages. But employees must be told, in no uncertain terms, that they must post responsibly to protect the dealership’s reputation, even when they’re off the clock.

We all know how much easier it is to send a text message than it is to make a phone call. If your employees want to text each other at all hours, there isn’t much you can do about it. But you don’t have to participate. The next time you get a drunk text or any other after-hours message, just ignore it.

A dealership family is not unlike any other family. There are ups and downs and even the occasional drama. It is OK to laugh, joke, cry and even vent. Just remember that our income is based solely on productivity and profitability. So enjoy those relationships but keep them professional and positive. Got a problem? Go sell something.

Jason Heard is the general manager at Lee's Summit (Mo.) Honda. He is a 20-year industry veteran with extensive sales and sales management experience. 

Source: http://www.autodealermonthly.com/channel/the-showroom/article/story/2016/09/dealership-family-values.aspx?utm_campaign=topnews-20161001&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter 

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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.

“Gone?”

“Nope”

“Now?”

“Still there.”

“Damnit!”

“Got it.”

“Thanks”

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?

@Danny_Benites

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Turn a Mistake into a Masterpiece

In today's marketplace, I submit that it is no longer acceptable to merely satisfy our customers and employees.  That statement is not ground-breaking, we've all heard it.  In most cases, providing what I call "Ridiculous" Service does not come naturally.  As a matter of fact, it's quite un-natural.  We create habits even when it comes to serving.  If we are going to blow our customer's faces off, we have to stop and think.  We have to first identify what it takes to satisfy them, and then we need to seek a way to go further.  We have to say. "In addition to ___, would you allow me to ___?"  Customers understand that it is not a matter of 'if' you blow it, they just want to know that 'when' you do, you are going to respond in a big way.  Our mistakes need to be viewed as opportunities to rescue and delight our customers.  When you do this, don't keep it a secret.  Shout it from the mountaintops!  THIS is what keeps them coming back and becoming an advocate for your business.

We have to learn how to neutralize negative experiences by responding quickly and with some creativity.  The image that I have attached to this article is an example of how an absolute bonehead move turned into a great story.  We left off $1500 worth of incentives on a customer's paperwork.  When the error was detected, we had a decision to make.  First,  I guess we could have just kept quiet.  When I have to resort to this kind of thievery to get by, I'll fire myself, grow a long beard and play my ukulele on the street corner. Secondly, we could have dropped the check in the mail with a sticky note that read "oops".  Instead, we decided to proclaim our greatness.  How would I feel if I unexpectedly received $1500 in the mail exactly one month before Christmas?  Let's turn this financial faux pas into a marketing masterpiece.  Make no mistake, I have no doubt that anyone reading this would return money that belongs to the customer.  The difference is HOW we returned it.   Did you notice the playful language of the letter?  When did we stop having fun at work?  We do these types of fun things on ANY situation in which we owe customers money.  Do you want to blow someone's mind?  Send them $125 explaining that you were able to secure a little extra on their trade in from last month.  Try to buy that kind of advertising for $125.  I dare you. The point here is that we seek out an opportunities to set ourselves apart.

The budget on this marketing campaign was whatever the letterhead, envelope, and stamp cost.  Under a buck, I suppose.  Oh yeah, about two minutes of my precious time.

If you'll notice, I grabbed a really old letterhead that still had the Pontiac logo on it.  See, when your heart in is the right place, little mistakes don't matter that much.

Who's your Danny?

www.dannybenites.com

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