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Our colleague Stan Sher wrote a pretty good tear on the issue of searching for the Next Internet Manager to blame for sales failures.  I have to say I agree with his sketch there.  I think, however, that it is not just Internet Managers.  It can be nearly every manager in a dealership.

For example, the call goes out:  “We need a great used car manager!”, and we get Clark Kent who comes with a stellar recommendation.  Forty-five days into his employment, online merchandising and pricing of used cars is corrected, AutoTrader is in line, the liner ads are looking good, and things are really just starting to roll.  In other words, Clark Kent is starting to show the “S” on his chest.  Then the GM comes in and says “The owner wants some cut-backs, and you’re it!”  And the GM keeps his job, Clark Kent loses his, and the politics of the blame for the continued poor used car track record at the store fall to Clark Kent.  Which is what the GM may have wanted, anyway.

And so the call goes out for The Next Superhero.

And the next used car manager with a stellar reputation is actually awful, and forty-five days into his employment the online merchandising and pricing, print liners, and so on are not yet correct and/or are greatly wrong for the market.  In other words, this Clark Kent had no “S” on his chest or any other letter.  So, the GSM comes in and says “I told the GM that you are awful!”  And the GSM keeps his job, Clark Kent loses his, and the politics of the blame for the continued poor used car track record at the store fall to this new Clark Kent.  Which is what the GSM may have wanted, anyway.

And so the call goes out, again, for . . . you guessed it: The Next Superhero.   Get my drift?  It doesn’t matter in this scenario whether the new manager is any good—it just matters that there is someone to blame because the store has no vision.  And this happens and happens and happens.  Possibly across several departments in a dealership, and definitely across many dealerships in the USA.   Because politics are what require the cycle of The Next Superhero, not business needs and sales advancement. 

You don’t need The Next Superhero on the floor or on the Internet.  Hire great people, manage them to great performance, and teach them great processes!  Hold them accountable, give them a fair pay plan, and compensate them for being great.  And, most of all, get a vision for your dealership.

Everybody keeps their job, store performance and profits go up, and all is right with the world.

And you don't need The Next Superhero.  In fact, you never did.

by Keith Shetterly,
Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved

Views: 489


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Comment by Tom Gorham on March 17, 2012 at 7:24pm

Keith, you are often too honest and forthright to be legal... and that's why we're friends.  I love it buddy.  Truly there are no superheroes.. there are only competent, ambitious and hardworking souls who require cooperation and respect for what they are doing.  Too often they run into office politics from managers that fear losing their own "power?" or authority.

I particularly liked the comment by AJ, "I would also add; be sure you are interviewing with the Dealer Principal."  That Dealer Principle should also be your direct boss once you are hired.

Comment by on March 14, 2012 at 10:04am

Keith I agree with you that politics plays too large of a negative roll with so many dealerships.   In fact, one of the recent trends I am seeing is the director/ Vice President of operations for auto groups.  So many dealerships have employees that are relatives or friends of the owner,  they have the giant guardian angel sitting on their shoulders protecting them from being accountable and have a negative, uninformed influence on the owner.   In response, I am seeing this new position of Vice President, where the owner now directs all business operations responsibility and authority to the Vice President . No more politics and focus remains on the vision.   I have seen these Vice Presidents fire brothers and children of the owner, once that happens everyone else knows who is in charge.  Amazing how successful these dealerships become once the Owner's relationship to the dealership employee is taken out of the equation.

I would also like to add that "sell more cars" is not a vision, neither is being the best dealership in the country.   A vision can be measured and achieved with rewards for all, once the vision is achieved. It has to be specific and achievable, the idea is for the vision to be a reach that can only be accomplished by building a synergy between the employees where they can do more together than individually.   

Comment by Tim Rulapaugh on March 14, 2012 at 8:07am

I've seen several examples where a manager fires a "superhero" for no legitimate reason than fear of the "superhero".  One core reason I keep seeing over and over for that fear is that the "superhero" has leadership and chemistry-building abilities the manager doesn't and the manager starts to fear the "superhero's" success is going to be noticed and the "superhero" will be promoted, potentially at the cost of the manager's job.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 13, 2012 at 12:00pm

A good friend of mine pointed out that, during expansion, new folks--superhero or not--will come aboard and some of this will happen, and lots of it will be positive.  I happen to see that exact thing going on at a dealership today, and it is painful:  Birth is painful for both child and parent, but the eye of that dealer si on the last few words I wrote above.

"Hire great people, manage them to great performance, and teach them great processes!  Hold them accountable, give them a fair pay plan, and compensate them for being great."

The vision of that dealership is clear, and that process is going on to the positive.  Just wanted to be clear!!!

Comment by Rob Fontano on March 12, 2012 at 10:56am

@Keith, Great piece and @Stan yours will hopefully open some eyes! @AJ, Nice adds! Why do we forget when interviewing to make sure that we are talking to the "Real Decision Maker"?

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 12, 2012 at 10:08am

Thanks Jim!  Al, thank you, and I agree that those are VERY IMPORTANT.  Not getting those answers . . . well, if YOU (figuratively, not YOU, Al)are the superhero, that's the kryptonite that will kill you.  :)

Comment by Stan Sher on March 12, 2012 at 10:07am

Awesome article.  I think Keith and I need to go on the road and train.  It is clear that we work together very well.  Our philosophies are similar.  This was a perfect follow up to my article.  I think that Rob made some great points in his article a few months.  My comment to that article was exactly in line with what we are talking about here.

Comment by Jim Radogna on March 12, 2012 at 9:51am

Great words of wisdom Keith, thanks!

Comment by Aj Maida on March 12, 2012 at 8:29am

Good stuff as always Keith. As Thomas said this happens all too often. This is a great warning to "not follow the money" from a personal standpoint. If you have a chance to talk to a new store about a position take heed of what Rob said in his article

  1. What is the dealer’s current digital marketing budget? (You should ask to see it)
  2. What is the dealer’s proposed digital marketing budget?
  3. Can you accomplish what you need to with this budget?

I would also add; be sure you are interviewing with the Dealer Principal. If you aren't then odds are you are considered to be a level below the desk managers. Just think about where you are; how much does the GM, GSM and Used car manager know about getting cars, service and parts found in search. On that note; Make sure they know that the position isn't only about the sales Dept. but fixed ops also. So don't make it about your money. Make it about where you will be given the support and opportunity to make the dealership more money. Then go ask for yours!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 12, 2012 at 7:54am

Thanks Thomas.  Always good to see you on here!

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