“Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” - Peter Drucker
To lead a dealership or dealer group as the General Manager is to consistently raise the standard for every department. From the cleaning crew to the finance department, General Managers have the ability to command excellence that sets the store apart.
Long hours and a monumental list of responsibilities can easily result in burnout or dropping the ball if you’re not efficient. What can a General Manager do to take their store from surviving to thriving, or take an already well-oiled machine to the next level? What would it take for a General Manager to be great? To start, you need to acknowledge the law of entropy—in which every department will fall to disorder and go the path of least resistance without a strong hand that keeps the new processes in focus. You are the strong hand that can assist other department managers in keeping their teams on track.
Here are three tips for General Managers that will span many potential pitfalls and make a long-term positive impact.
Be Aware, Without Micro-Managing
Nobody can do it all—vendors and software can make your life easier. There’s a catch. Some managers fall into the trap of over-outsourcing and take their thumb off of things they shouldn’t. When managers go on auto-pilot or blindly trust their systems, small leaks in revenue or efficiency can end up flooding the store.
Great General Managers are trained and engaged with any system that’s utilized anywhere in the store. There’s a reason the GM has to sign the checks—because the payout is an important part of the business. CRMs that manage customer data are equally as important as are inventory management systems and the like. A great General Manager can sit down at a software system from the showroom to the service lane and pull information to review ROI. Are the platforms you pay for delivering what they promised? Are they being utilized to their full potential? If the answer is no, is it an issue with the provider or your own people? Don’t throw money at systems that don’t work for you or neglect to stay engaged with your employee’s relationship with those systems.
Be A Student of the Game
Sometimes “arriving” at the top can lead to wrong thinking. An industry veteran may get into the mindset that he or she has “seen it all” and will stop growing.
Technology, the automotive industry, and consumer habits are always changing. The only way to remain competitive is to adapt to the trends. The only way to be great is to go beyond adapting and commit to ongoing training. It could be an advancement in technology that you need to conquer. It could be a monkey wrench in how business is done (looking at you, COVID) that requires a change to your routine.
No matter what is happening, never be above training. Great General Managers are teachable.
Be the General Manager You Needed
It’s been said that people don’t quit jobs; they quit managers. Working relationships are invaluable. People are your most important asset! Simply knowing them and hearing them will take you farther than you realize.
You’re already interacting regularly with certain personnel while others you’ll have to make an effort to talk to. Know the names of your lot attendants. Check-in with your receptionist each day. (It will really go a long way with your teams.) Taking time to talk with people will let you know if there are any annoyances with a certain system or hiccups in your process. These things you otherwise wouldn’t hear about can impact your bottom line in the long run.
In addition, being a relatable and approachable General Manager will make your dealership a better workplace. When employees know you’re open to talking, you have opportunities to coach people throughout the day, encourage and praise a job well done, and discover areas that need improvement. The Wizard of Oz manager has higher turnover and lower standards.
An engaged manager will also set the example of workplace culture with their tone. If the water cooler talk involves making jokes about customers, excessive profanity, or general unprofessional conduct, don’t expect high morale or high CSI scores. Set a tone of high standards on both dealership and employee appearance, respect for all people, and respect for oneself.
Using these tips will build the foundation needed to be a great leader.
How Insignia Group Can Support You
According to SEMA statistics, accessories are just shy of a seven billion dollar industry. Consumer research shows that customers will personalize their vehicles. The only question is if they source accessories from you or order aftermarket elsewhere.
Every General Manager is interested in adding revenue. Conservatively you could add hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, though some dealerships sell a million annually or more, selling accessories at the point of sale. You just need the right approach.
Insignia Group is the leading provider of digital accessory selling systems in dealerships nationwide. Our accessory system helps salespeople present and sell accessories at the point of sale and improves and streamlines cross-departmental communication. Robust reporting enables General Managers to see what’s selling, who's selling it, and keep customers in the know on installations.
A digital system in and of itself is only a system. Insignia Group partners with your dealership to understand your store, create a custom process, and train your staff on implementation. New processes take time, and our expert consultants know how to create a short and long-term vision.