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So it seems that the spring automotive conference season is over. This means that a small percentage of dealers have brought back valuable statistics and resources to potentially improve their businesses. However, one thing that no conference can teach is the importance of car dealers and where they stand with human resources practices. In addition to human resource practices most dealers have not begun to implement a proper management style.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who recently changed jobs because the dealership that he was employed at as a GSM has been sold. He made a quick change because he suspected that he was going to lose his job if he had stayed. He also recognized the new GM/Management Partner and knows that the said person is known for demoralizing employees in Saturday morning meetings. Anyone who has ever been employed at a dealership that is going through a buy-sell knows that it is a stressful time since no one knows what the future brings. I can sit here and pick a part hundreds of things that dealers need to consider to improve but I want to make my point across fairly quickly.
Car dealers that are looking to make big improvements should focus on graduating to a management style that makes employees feel comfortable when they go to work. If policies need to be changed they need to be changed gradually and not instantly. Dealers fail to realize that as much as employees need their job to support their families they too have choices that they can make as to where they can go interview and land. I have witnessed and heard some serious issues that have been going on in a store more recently as new ownership and management takes power. While a few may sound familiar I am sure there is one or two that will boggle some minds. As we take a look at these, please keep in mind that a general staff meeting on the first day that the new owners took over they made a big exciting speech telling everyone that they are keeping everyone and they will make things even better. They also bought pizza and had one big celebration. This honeymoon lasted about 40 minutes. Let's take a look at nine issues that have occurred in just one week.
1. General Manager that has been employed for about 25 years in the dealership under previous ownership gets let go.
2. Sales process changes and store starts increasing sales numbers (positive change).
3. Owner and General Manager make agreement with the current Sales Manager about keeping them and setting up responsibilities. They even explain that they want this manager to be managing all digital operations (however they do not involve them in meetings with vendors). Within two days the owners secretly run an ad to replace the same person. Add three more days and they fire that manager.
4. The dealership makes changes that involve firing about 5 long term employees.
5. Saturday morning meeting is when the GM announces that the store will be open an extra hour on Saturday. However, when everyone leaves at the original time management gets very upset and takes it to another level.
6. Saturday lunch: The dealership used to buy lunch for employees on Saturday. However, this time the owner comes over and tells employees, "This is the last supper so enjoy as we will not be buying lunch on Saturday anymore. Bring your own lunch."
7. Manager runs an advertisement and interviews new candidates. However, when they want to introduce the candidates to the General Manager, the GM says, "here is how I do this". He explains, "I invite everyone to come back for a second interview. I want them to come in at 9am and it has to be during rush hour in the morning. If they are here on time I will interview them. However, if they are late I will tell them that the job is filled." (Ladies and gentlemen, please share your thoughts.)
8. General Manager is not happy that sales people are not "pounding" the phones. They get all of the sales people and tell them to pick up a yellow pages and start cold calling people.
9. The General Manager on Saturday asks about the a BDC representative before the morning meeting starts. Instead of asking about them by mentioning their name they mention them by the color of their skin. The GM proceeds to say that on Monday they are firing this person.
What is the point here?
The point I am trying to make is that there is no need to be try to be smarter then the average bear. As an industry there is too much pride and everyone thinks that their way is the best. In this case, management wants respect but is not willing their people. As my friend and I discussed this on the phone this morning we both agreed that car dealerships need to mirror the practices of major corporations. Major corporation’s employee proper procedures and have a process for managing HR as well as management in general. The reason that these major companies have set guidelines in place is because these guidelines prevent some huge liabilities and force team members to have humility in many cases towards others.
So why do car dealers continue to let egos rule the business instead of handling their people in a more professional manner? Do they consider the liabilities? Do they consider the costs that they incur when they need to replace people instead of motivate and train them?
I am here to spread the positive message that dealers need to display more humility and start to possess a more professional. Stop doing things behind employee’s backs. Stop making drastic changes without properly making it a guideline. These changes will improve the work environment, longevity and profitability.