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Is Your Ego Limiting The Success Of Your Dealership?

Anyone who has been an active member of ADM knows that the pace of change in our industry over the past 10 years has been breathtaking.  


Dealers have more "balls to keep in the air" than ever before.  I'm not just talking about the changes that Google and Social Media have introduced. Regulatory, environmental, reinsurance, human resources, financing, mobile technology, and OEM franchise law is changing rapidly as well.  


I have been blessed to work with small and large dealership organizations in my relatively short career in the automotive industry. Short when I compare it to the years of experience represented by ADM leaders such as Ralph Paglia, Ken Beam, Tom Gorham, James Ziegler, or Phil Zelinger. 


When traveling around the country working with dealers, it is common for me to advise the dealers to send their team to educational conferences and advanced training sessions.  The next big conference is the Automotive Boot Camp, hosted by First Class Educators.  A number of ADM members will be presenting and attending Boot Camp this year along with two ADM Boot Camp Scholarship winners.  I'll be there lending my hand at a few workshops; here is a list of all 48 workshops offered


I encourage investments in education for one simple fact: Executives at dealerships need to have their team aware of the opportunities, tools, and strategies for modern day dealership operations.  Dealer principals can no longer "pull" their teams into compliance.  Dealerships need to share a common vision to achieve the outcomes they desire.


Do Large Dealer Groups Have An Advantage?


When I speak with larger dealer groups, defined as organizations with over 12 franchise stores, it is very common to see that their investment in dealership education is limited to a handful of employees.  What I mean is that it is two or three people to represent the entire group. 


When I ask executives at larger dealer groups why at least ONE employee from each store is not attending a conference, I get a number of interesting responses:


  1. Brian, there are only a few stores in our group that really "get it".
  2. Brian, we have a few stores that have not really embraced the Internet, so sending them to a conference would be a waste of time.
  3. Brian, if we send our GM or GSM to a conference, they will sign up for services that we don't want them to have.
  4. Brian, we manage the information and products that we want our dealers to see.
  5. We don't believe in sending them to conferences because it is not efficient.  Basically, it's a waste of time. We can not afford to take a day out of the dealership.

Will this arrogance be the breaking point for scaling successful dealership groups? No.   However, it will limit the  FULL potential  of each store in a large dealership group.  

This is the main point of this article.  Limiting education will be the achilles heel of dealers. 

Leaders Have Limited Reach


There are some very bright individuals leading the charge at large dealer groups without question.  However, these leaders still have to get EACH store to understand:

  • the influence on consumers of online reviews
  • the opportunities that social media offer
  • the "traffic now" results of paid search and display marketing
  • the annuity of traffic generated from SEO investments
  • the engagement power of video marketing


IF large dealer groups created a digital ambassador at each store, their work would actually be simplified. They would not be  "pulling" their dealers to the digital party. To their surprise, the stores would start demanding more of the corporate team because each store would understand the opportunities in their local marketplace. 


If I was managing over a group of 10,20, or 30 stores, I would know my limitations.  I could not FORCE my stores to:


  • Engage their customers to post online reviews
  • Invite customers to join their social media platform
  • Collaborate with customers to create a video testimonial
  • Log a majority of their phone ups into CRM
  • Properly follow phone scripts and CRM processes
  • Promote the long term value of the dealership brand
However, if I could light the fire at each location with a handful of "ambassadors", then potential is infinite.  Yet, few large dealer groups see that their current model is holding back the creative energy of their stores.  The "costs" from lost opportunities are staggering.

Is The Tail Wagging The Dog?

Let me be clear.  I understand the need for chain of command in a large organization.  I understand the need to approve and manage group contracts.  I understand the opportunity to leverage vendors for better prices when you have a large number of stores.
Larger dealership groups have to stop thinking that ALL their stores CAN NOT handle a new world order. Why limit success?  EMPOWERED dealerships can innovate and create customized marketing strategies for their local market.  Why would dealers settle for anything less??
Change and innovation will only happen if dealers send MORE, NOT LESS, of their staff to educational conferences.  Infuse NEW blood into aging dealerships!
From my experience, large dealer groups are behind smaller groups in this area of opportunity.  Their EGO is limiting their ability to dominate their markets through economies of scale AND empowered dealership employees.
It is time to unleash the power of your employees!
What say you?




Brian Pasch CEO of PCG


Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Digital Marketing
Brian Pasch

Views: 854

Tags: conferences, dealership training


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Comment by Bill Cosgrove on June 7, 2013 at 6:02am

Brian-It is apparent to me that the majority of businesses that Just Don't Get It-Just Don't Have It. I have seen it happen time and time again where a new GM comes into a store that is in need of transformation and makes some positive changes to improve sales and infrastructue of the organization and in a year or two gets fat and happy and complacent.

Anyone can go into a store that has been neglected and improve it. The real leaders are the ones who are driven to hit that next level because they have no choice. These leaders are driven from within, who live, breath and love what they do. They have no choice but to keep moving forward. They are never satisfied because it is who and what they are.

The real leaders are going to surround themselves with people like themselves who will be constantly challenging and looking to improve. Ego is what insecure people have who need to keep telling themselves they are good. The real leader knows his mission and looks for ways to accomplish it. These people should never be in leadership positions.

I once had a salesperson who told me that he wanted my job. He was constantly going behind my back to the GM trying to make me look bad. That kind of person will never achieve the heights of a real leader.

One day I sat down with him and told him that if I had to worry about him taking my job that meant that I didn’t deserve it in the first place. The real leader never thinks about those things because the real leader is not insecure and is not interested in playing politics.

He is simply driven to succeed because it is not within him to be any other way. For the next discussion we should explore why the whole infrastructure of a dealership in itself is another big reason they are being held back.

Comment by Tom Gorham on June 4, 2013 at 6:23pm

Brian, I am really surprised that the leaders of a dealer group would say, "Brian, there are only a few stores in our group that really "get it" as an excuse not to educate them.  Wouldn't those stores be the ones that need it the most?  That logic blows my mind!

"Brian, we have a few stores that have not really embraced the Internet, so sending them to a conference would be a waste of time."  My mind is blowing again!  Is that logical?

Who do they have running the stores that don't get the Internet?  Fire them and replace them with people who do.

These people are obviously intelligent, I think, because they made a success of their business.  But they obviously have no clue how to move their dealerships into the future.  Perhaps the successful stores will carry the losers.


Comment by Ashley Lopez on May 7, 2012 at 10:25am

Brian I couldn't agree with you more on everything...and y'all are right---we, as employees, just want to learn and grow...When we believe in what our dealer is offering we want EVERYONE to know about it, but at the same time you are right to say that when opportunities are being blocked at our job we will want to leave.  

I personally love to learn and grow in EVERYTHING I do...I will admit it...I am a bit of a nerd :)

But looking back even when I started out with our dealership, I was a receptionist but I wanted to learn how our dealership worked and I wanted to help in doing all I could...and my managers saw that and recognized it.  That drive and passion to learn showed my GM that I had more to offer than answering a phone and led me to a promotion.  I answered the phones for 2 months before I was moved up and now head our Internet Marketing Department.  I love my job and I feel that there is always room to grow, luckily my GM and Dealer understand that technology is always evolving and there is always something new in our "world"...they are excited to see what I bring back from the Boot Camp (big thanks again to everyone for the opportunity and winning the scholarship :D)!

A little over than 6 months ago I was at DSES in Las Vegas, I came back with pages and pages of notes and we have integrated a lot of what I learned into our business...I believe EVERY dealer should be sending AT LEAST one employee to a conference, don't think about the money as a waste...think of it as an INVESTMENT.

Comment by Jason Manning on May 5, 2012 at 11:27pm

We got away from Training.  If a store is afraid they will lose talent, they have no confidence in what they are offering.  The General Manager and Owner(s) are responsible for growth and retention.  If they believe they will lose talent, they have a poor product (their dealer) to sell (to employees) anyway.  Any confident dealer will offer World Class Training on the absolute latest and proven methods for selling vehicles.  They will be confident and secure with their staff, in front of their fiercest competitor(s). If they don't have the managers to train their staff, they should be sure to get to work early, start training sessions at 7:00 am and train their staff (open invitations to every employee) themselves.  It should be mandatory and compelling.  They should get down on their hands and knees and go to work.  Come down off their tower and get face to face with their warriors (so to speak).  They should breed confidence into their staff, one session at a time.  There is no lead company that will sustain their staffing issues.  We need to breathe confidence back into our showrooms.  Nothing has changed there...except our leaders.  We got lazy and confused.

BTW, if you are offering World Class Training, you'll find that a great number of employees will show up no matter what time you start.  They are hungry.  They are ready for success.  They are searching for leaders and mentors and a way out of their own personal recessions.

Comment by Stan Sher on May 5, 2012 at 10:59pm

Here is one.  I heard dealers do not want to send their people (that are all stars) to get more education because they are afraid that someone else will offer them a job that will entice them to leave the current job.

Comment by Kurt William Hoppe II on May 3, 2012 at 3:59am
The crux of the issue is that for a business to grow, it has to grow as a team, engaging many experts instead of relying on single resources. Having many resources means the knowledge is sustainable, instead of limiting that knowledge to someone who might ultimately take it with them. To be selfish means that a dealer goes no further than the dealer's status quo - what the top is comfortable with. Brian, you hit the nail on the head in regards to leadership. Dealers don't travel out of the box, and thus they lose the chance to open new horizons. Learning should be a team effort, and encouraged as such.
Comment by Brian Pasch on May 3, 2012 at 3:40am


I love the switch and counter point.  The answer to your first counterpoint is that the roles of most dealership employees are not static.  A BDC employee a year ago was most likely not integrating chat or video in their customer communications.  There is always room for improvement, just consider how many phone calls are still handled poorly at the dealership.

You used the word "acceptable" performance which to be sounds like average to me.  I like to work with dealers that want to be their very best.   Any leader that is satisfied with "acceptable" performance from their team will never build a world-class organization.

The second counterpoint is more a question about leadership.  If a dealer KNOWS that they should be doing chat, video, PPC, and retargeting for example, and chooses not to do it, the business leadership is broken.  The dealer is either not motivated to learn new things or afraid to ask for help.  

Sending an employee to a conference to learn about the opportunities for their dealership may be the "spark" that starts a series of changes.  Maybe the dealer will allow that digital ambassador to test new ideas on a controlled basis.  It takes the attention off their own lack of knowledge, and if it fails, they cannot be blamed.

Any employee worth their salt will want to grow in their career.  When they see opportunities that are being blocked at their job, they will leave.  Opportunities come from inspiration.  Inspiration can come from reading, the Internet, and their peers.  

Conferences are hyper focused inspirational events and are not to be feared for any business leader that want to grow and empowers their employees to do the same.  

Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 2, 2012 at 2:49pm

A the risk of receiving negative commentary, let me play devil's advocate for a moment... If an employee in a dealership already knows how to do their jobs, as defined by their role, at an acceptable level of competence, why would a dealer want to take that employee away from being productive for the purpose of providing education that they are doing fine without?

Furthermore, why would a dealer want to educate their employees on strategies, tactics, processes and tools that the dealership does not currently have in place? Why would a dealer want to risk alienating their own staff by educating them on things that are not in place at their dealership?

Comment by Keith Shetterly on May 2, 2012 at 2:24pm

Keeping the sales force ignorant while the customer is more and more educated is a "plantation mentality"--and that mentality in the car business will soon go exactly to the same place plantations went:  HISTORY!

Comment by Kurt William Hoppe II on May 2, 2012 at 2:06pm
And you have to love the folks who consider the training room/training program their own private fiefdom! Imagine, if you will, an in-house training program for Salespeople. Two weeks of selling basics before you hit the floor. It is billed as the most successful training program in the neighborhood. Sounds good, you think? How about this program loses half of the 30-40 people that are recruited to fill the room, and it has to be recycled monthly! Is turnover that bad? That's a case study of training that could use some help too...

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