I’ve never witnessed such a lack of professionalism, leadership, and civility in the auto industry in my 30 years of experience. While you can find managers everywhere, it is much harder to develop leaders. Leaders are vital, but managers are essential. You don’t need vision, guts, or character to manage people. But it does take all three.
These are some of the typical traits I see in dealership managers today:
#1 – Inattention to details
“Big doors swing upon small hinges” “A person cannot be trusted to do small things can’t be trusted to do large things.”
#2 – Insufficient communication
Nebulous environments are not conducive to efficiency. Communicate clearly and often. You and your team deserve to know all details. Tell your team that we will make it work for you or that we will get the details later. Be clear with your people and let them know right away.
#3 – Make decisions
Don’t procrastinate on small and big decisions. Take the time to gather all information and make a decision. Don’t waste time arguing and postponing things in the hope that they will disappear. You can’t just sweep the mess under the carpet and expect the stinky to disappear. Take a decision, and then move on.
#4 – Say No!
Don’t be afraid to say no. Speak up for your customers, vendors, staff, and anyone else you might need to say no. Have a strong backbone and never say no! You can’t manage from weakness. It has not worked, and it will never work again. People won’t respect or follow weakness. People will not accept no as an answer. But they won’t take a spineless weasel saying no.
#5 – Make a promise
It is impossible to succeed in something you haven’t committed to. It is important to make commitments. You must keep your promises firm and unwavering.
#6 – Inability to follow up on promises
Even if it hurts, do what you promise. Don’t be afraid to keep your word, even if it means you don’t want to fulfill your obligations. Follow through.
#7 – Be a coach
Bear Bryant, the famous coach from Alabama, said that he could take your team and beat you. Then he would switch with your players and hit you again. Coaching and developing people is what it’s all about. Instead of giving people the chance to lose, start putting them in a position where they can win. You will fail if they fail! Every day, coach, train, and educate.
#8 – Stop blaming everyone for your failures and shortcomings
It is not the lazy or bad people. It’s not your economy. It is not the wrong owners, market, location, or brand. It’s not you. Take responsibility for all things. Even if things aren’t your fault, you still have to take responsibility for them. You can always contribute to success or failure. Your thoughts and actions are what make it happen. You are the victim of every accident, so look in the mirror.
#9 – Learn and grow every day
If you continue to do the same thing as yesterday, you will not be a market leader today. Learning and growing are key. You don’t always know everything, even if you think you do. It is arrogant to assume that your limited perspective and life experience will allow you to understand all. You don’t. Every day, learn. Make a daily learning plan for your team and yourself. Do not ever allow anyone to tell you that you don’t have enough experience.
#10 – Be civil and professional
Always be kind to others. No one cares if you are tired or busy. Everyone is alive, and everyone has bad days. Don’t let it get you down. Be kind, courteous, and civil to everyone. Every person is a potential customer, a potential megaphone, and a potential source of information that can give you good or bad reviews. It is not a good idea to be rude to others in order to get power. Even when you feel bad, try your best to be civil. It is possible to be direct while still being polite. You don’t have to be a dictator manager. It will make you look stupid, ego-bloated, and have low self-esteem. Be civil.