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How valuable is a used car manager for a single point dealership?

In my recent travels I have started to see dealerships do away without a used car manager.  I am talking about dealerships that are selling between 70 and 100+ used cars per month.  In fact, it seems to be a role and responsibility that a GSM or even GM have started to take over.  The technology that we have in place for merchandising and pricing inventory has turned used car sales into a simpler process where a few marketing tools such as vAuto, HomeNet, and others have eliminated the need for having a costly six figure manager on staff.  In fact, the dealerships that have no used car manager have a used inventory merchandising manager that is just in charge of making sure that inventory is properly being taken care of, the right amount of pictures get taken, and the inventory is posted properly on the internet.  They also deal with buyers and are in charge of making sure that inventory arrives as it should.  I noticed that these people work for less money then a used car manager and are basically an assistant to the GSM or GM.

Some might see this is as a negative thing because they might blame technology for putting people out of work while others might see it as a positive thing because they do not have to deal with the extra ego of an arrogant used car manager.  In all reality it is great to have technology that allows us to keep our processes in the dealership simpler and allow for a faster turnaround time.  When it comes to managing used car sales for multiple dealerships there might still be a need for the used car manager because the duties change.

What do you think of this?  Has the time come for used car managers to be extinct?  Please share your thoughts...

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Views: 2420

Tags: automotive internet sales, dealer etraining, stan sher, used car manager, used car merchandising, used car sales

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Comment by George Nenni on March 26, 2012 at 9:11am

Very interesting post Stan, obviously stirring plenty of discussion and a bit of debate.  I'm not sure there is any one answer to this question, since it also depends on the organizational structure at the dealership, and the number of used and new salespeople that would report to managers.  We're talking a lot about the tools, but we should also be mindful that the classic responsibilities of a sales manager are: 1) Recruiting and hiring the best team 2) Training, setting performance standards, and measuring to those standards 3) Rewarding and promoting the strong, developing the capable, and putting the poor performers on improvement plans.  Effective vehicle merchandising and analytics tools will help improve decision-making, while also freeing sales management to make sure they have an effective team, properly trained, and performing the essential blocking and tackling, staying true to CRM usage and other related processes.  If used and new sales teams are small enough to only roll-up to a single sales manager, then by all means I would advocate making the change.  If the number of salespeople dictate that more than one sales manager is needed for effective employee management and development, then segmentation by used and new seems like a better choice.

Comment by Philip Moore on March 26, 2012 at 6:55am

You make your money when you buy the car.  The person acquiring used inventory for your store, be it through appraisal lane or auction, has to know what that car is selling for in your trade area today, and be able to assess how the specific unit s/he is looking at is more or less valuable than average.  Whether you call that person UCM or buyer or appraiser, they all need the real-time information that is now widely available through FirstLook, vAuto, AAX, etc.  (plug alert) They should also be checking the Carfax to see if the car is a 1-owner Arizona cherry or a multi-owner Jersey dog.  You're only going to have your $10K tied up in the car for a month or two, but the consumer who is going to commit $12K for the next three years is going to pour over every detail of the Carfax.  They will pay more than average for the cherry and less than average for the dog. Shouldn't you know that when you buy the car?(end plug) Acquiring used inventory is more and more competitive and successful dealerships are using these tools to grow their profitability.  If you are sending someone out to buy cars without these tools, it won't matter how many years of experience they have.

Comment by Jason Manning on March 25, 2012 at 3:40pm

Depth of Knowledge, as Tom put it.  That matters the most.  Everything we use gets upgraded.  If a Used Car Manager cannot accept an upgrade in his or her education, their depth of knowledge has just peaked.  Just as our vehicle computers get flashed and upgraded, so should our brains.  There is a lesson to be learned there...  The Used Car Manager (or ANY manager)  willing to upgrade their depth of knowledge is a valuable asset.  The one who doesn't...not so much.

Comment by William Killion on March 25, 2012 at 10:52am

Please check out www.titancertified.com.  We assist GM's, GSM's and UCM's in determining the health and condition of the engine and transmissions of trade-in's.  An excellent reconditioning management tool.

Comment by George Jr. on March 25, 2012 at 8:40am

Perhaps the time of a specific used or new manager has passed. Perhaps sales manager is a better way to describe the managers. The used car experienced manager I think is still a neccessity as books and web sites are not always up on what is hot and what is not in your specific market. This person would need used car experience or where will we find used car experienced GSM's and GM's in the future years.

Of course training and reconditioning can be handled by a lesser cost employee, but what you are paying for in a used manager is the experience, the years of being able to recognize trends sometimes before the AAX and Vauto type sites. Not everything is a "one size fits all" especially in the automobile business.   

Comment by Clint K. Bailey on March 25, 2012 at 7:44am
I agree with Doug. As a Dealer principal of 2 smaller stores I use 24 yrs experience and every computer I can get my hands on to help keep up with faster turning used inventory. I currently have a GSM with a strong used car background as well. The more you integrate roles the better the team and the less the division. Thanks for the article
Comment by Joshua Michael Friedman on March 25, 2012 at 6:36am

Automotive news, March 23, 2012: "Dealership profits hit record, average $785,855 in 2011, NADA says...."

Cost-cutting, whether in personnel or the savings of digital vs. traditional broadcast media, is a big part of that, as everyone here on ADM knows very well.

Used cars are such a driving force in the health of a dealership that it tends to work best when, from the dealer principal on down, the entire store is supporting one used-car vision.

Comment by Ben Misra ( Secondarypro) on March 25, 2012 at 5:35am

Stan,

It could also apply to the New Car Manager. Very few actually order new cars from the factory anymore. Their job is to to properly train the sales staff and desk deals for the store.

Does anyone remember the Finance Manager....umm sorry I meant the Business Manager.

Its time to rethink the roles and pay scales of the positions in the dealership.

Comment by Stan Sher on March 25, 2012 at 1:30am
Excellent feedback guys...I love your comments.
Comment by Tom Gorham on March 24, 2012 at 7:44pm

I'm a tech guy.  I love vAuto and First Look and all other tools to help us understand what's happening in the Used Car marketplace.  But I also love having our Used Car Manager with years of experience help us interpret those numbers.  A "good" Used Car manager knows what those numbers mean.  Looking at numbers is one thing... understanding them is another. 

I find the same thing happening in Internet Marketing.  A few people go to a seminar and think they understand the Internet.  Forget it.  It's not knowledge that counts... it's depth of knowledge.

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