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"This is a Dictatorship, not a Democracy".. Ugh!

"A Dictatorship.  That's How the Business Works!"

Yuck... These words came spewing out the mouth of a Senior Executive Manager at a struggling car dealership who asked for my help in evaluating his Management team.

"It's what?", I said with a hiccup-style chuckle in the back of my throat (a long time bad habit when I hear ridiculous comments)

"A Dictatorship!", he said (no chuckle).

"What's that mean...exactly?"

"It means I hire people to do the job I've hired them to do.  And when they don't get that job done, they gotta go.  I pay them WAY too much to get these piss poor resultsI"

"What does that have to do with it being a Dictatorship?"

"It means if they'd just do what I tell them to do, we'd be selling 400 cars a month right now.  I used to sell more than that with only 20 guys".

I said, "Fair enough.  So give me all the stuff on what you tell them to do.  I mean both the Managers and the Salespeople. That should tell the tale."

Sure enough, the "stuff" he'd tell people to do had more to do with his expected results, and much less to do with workable, achievable, and relevant strategies for TODAY's business environment. He'd say, "Keep calling 'em back until they buy or die", and, "Get your salespeople to contact everyone they know and see who would be willing to trade if the deal was right", and other old adages of the car biz.  It DID tell the tale.

Even his "hired guns" of experts, gurus, and event-speaking "pros" allowed this poor, but well-meaning fellow to continue with his toxic and damaging "Dictatorship" culture.   

It took two full days of conversation, 2 meals out, and a "French Connection Style" car chase all the way to his house. He blew up when I compared him to a Gorilla throwing his feces around a cage. It was meant to break him of his current beliefs.

Afterwards, he knew I meant well.

The fact was, is that his sales were WAY down (dealership-wide) and he was rightly frustrated.  He worked for the dealer group for a LONG time and couldn't see the facts through the fog.  He was spark to the fire (and the gasoline when trying to put the fire out).

And then finally...he got it.


The essence of great leadership in car dealerships, TODAY, is executing a structure of Management that involves Coaching, Training, Mentorship, and Analytics.

The mentality of "Move the Metal" is like a limping Gazelle running from a Lion on the Serengeti.  Sure, you can MASK this mentality in Social Media "Speak", CRM systems, and Internet leads, but the Lion is still gonna eat you.

Coaching involves that area of managerial focus which compels both the "Coach/Manager" and "Team member" to collaboratively define individual motivations, targets, objectives, and/or goals ...and then agree on a pathway and timeframe for the "Team Member" to reach the agreed-upon milestones.

People have MUCH MORE AT STAKE in achieving their own goals as opposed to achieving yours.  Makes sense, right?  It should.  That's how YOU work best, too!

Training involves the specifics of the "How-to", yet doesn't fall prey to the "Lecture" approach which bores the crap out of most everyone in the world!  Interaction and the challenge of LIVE, ever-changing, conversational and mechanical dynamics...that's the ticket!


Mentorship involves providing individual guidance to those with "ladder-climbing" ambitions across the much wider spectrum of Leadership principles, strategies, tactics, and methods ...while COACHING them towards MASTERY in their current dealership positions.


Analytics involves a smart, yet balanced approach to managing the "numbers" and "measuring tools" in order to best support YOU and ALL team members in fulfilling each person's fullest potential.


Piece of cake, right? 

Hell no!  It takes hard work, smart work, and full commitment to adaptation and growth of your dealership and your own career.  The good news?  The payoff is extraordinary!  Gratitude, Gifting others, and Building a much more Successful Legacy of Success!

Views: 1396

Tags: auto, car, coaching, dealership, dealerships, management, managers, managing, paglia, ralph, More…sales, tips, tom, trainers, training, vann


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Comment by Timothy Martell on February 10, 2014 at 10:30pm

Ralph, while I'm sure the tone of your response to my post is great for getting attention on Facebook, it is writhe with all the out of context political spin of an MSNBC newscast. You suggest that my assertion singles out only bad dealer management style and further assume (WOW really? BIG MISTAKE) that my own experience in retail is the basis for my post - WRONG.

My assertion was that a worst case scenario would end in disgust, but a best case scenario would lead them to ultimately leave the retail space as EVERYONE (except Brian) on this thread has done! The simple truth is that the vendor world offers far more upside and a much higher ceiling than does auto retail. Thats not an opinion, its a fact. Compare and contrast the percentage of vendor billionaires to auto retail billionaires. Game, set, match my friend.

Based on Tom's assertion about the future billionaires, I don't see auto-retail as a first choice for someone with such lofty goals. I never said it was a bad profession, merely that a vehicle that offers a general cap of 300k-500k is not the place a future billionaire looks to find his opportunity for success regardless of an old boys network or the most progressive leadership offered. Lastly, Ralph, there are over 20,000 dealers in the USA, your anecdotes about 1,000 dealers you've worked with in no way represent any meaningful data about what is or is not prevalent. And I would be shocked if you are honestly asserting that each of those 1,000 dealers consisted of progressive thought leaders exhibiting no stereotypical or bad habits.

Perhaps you shouldn't skim particularly if you are going to denigrate someone's family legacy and approach to business... truly poor form Mr. Paglia. 

Comment by Tom Vann on February 10, 2014 at 3:57pm

The banter has been good...and Ralph's latest post is a reality "Sledgehammer" ~ Awesome!

Here's the quickest path to the VSM FREE SALES TRAINING site...

Click Right Here :-) 


Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 10, 2014 at 9:54am
In regards to Timothy Martell's last comment; I disagree with Tim's assertion that America's best and brightest will inevitably either not be attracted to the car biz, or if they get a job in a dealership will soon leave in disgust. I've been privileged enough to have worked in well over 1,000 dealership facilities across North America over the past 33 years, thanks to my years as a consultant and trainer, so my perspective is based on a fairly good sample size. I agree with Tim that there are dealerships where what he describes could, and would occur... However, not only are there many dealerships where America's best and brightest could thrive and be the platform from which their success is launched, there are dealerships where the culture and leadership is so conducive to entrepreneurial spirit and creating value that the opposite effect occurs... I know this to be true because I have witnessed these great dealerships on a first hand basis. There are too many great dealerships which have the opposite effect on their new hires than what Tim describes to list them all, but let me mention just a few of them:
Rick Case Honda in FL
Ken Grody Ford in CA
Ancira Auto Group in TX
West-Herr Auto Group in NY
Cavendar Toyota in TX
Melloy Nissan in NM
Power Ford in NM
World Hyundai of Matteson, IL
Germaine Auto Group of OH, FL, AR
Courtesy Chevrolet in AZ
Findlay Auto Group in NV

As I stated, there are many more of these types of dealerships and organizations than the few I listed off the top of my head, where people that are not normally attracted to the car business manage to get themselves hired, and then thrive at a level where their success stories are launched and they become highly successful in either the auto industry or something connected to the car biz. I have seen and participated in far too many powerful success stories that originated in America's car dealerships to accept what Tim describes as being the prevalent situation... I've hired college students at my dealership who went on the become senior executives at car companies and successful entrepreneurs, such as the creator of Mazda's Retail Revolution and several successful authors and well known auto industry speakers... I have seen on a first hand basis where young people come on board with a dealership that has such a dynamic and positive culture that there entire outlook on careers in the auto industry changes to the positive and they go on to become inspirational success stories of their own...

I know the auto industry has a lot of room for improvement, as Tom Vann certainly describes well, but for Tim to believe that his own first hand experience working in a dealer group run by his father is either typical or the predominant dealership culture is simply unrealistic. I have seen too many opposite types of dealership environments and work places to accept a wholesale conclusion that all dealerships suck! I have seen too many incredibly powerful, upbeat, inspirational and personally rewarding places to work that also happened to be a car dealership, to accept that this positive impact cannot become more widespread or even the prevalent American dealership work place environment... So, let me just say that for every dealership that is run like a dictatorship or Siberian Labor Camp, there is another where employees thrive, create value and self fulfillment and go on to reach their own success potential. I believe in this enough to have recruited my own family members into the car business and not regretted doing so... I also see people like myself, Danny Alkassmi, Richard Bustillo, Tom Vann, Kurt Maletych, Joe Webb, Eric Nichols and yes, even Tim Martell along with hundreds of others who have grown up in the car biz and become success stories in their own right.

So, lest we toss the baby out with the bath water, let's recognize what a great business we are in and committ ourselves to amplifying and spreading what we do right at the same time in which we self criticize and reach for making our industry a better place to work and reach professional fulfillment.
Comment by Tom Vann on February 10, 2014 at 5:36am

Hey Brian!  I KNEW I should have just said "T. Rex" or the "Spiders from Mars"! :-)

I really DIG the conversations surrounding this POST!

I probably should have highlighted the paragraph when I mentioned that younger generations "perceive themselves to have far more choices..."  Self-perception is often-times different than the truths of others.  Fair enough?

The magic (and mystery) of Coaching, Training, and Mentorship is that it forces the leader to scrap his/her own agenda and focus more on the targets, objectives, and goals of the individual.  The POSSIBILITIES of personal success grow geometrically when people have clarity on how their targets/goals become PROBABILITIES ...and it doesn't work when trying to beat it into their heads.

We're on the same page (heck, writing the same book) when it comes to how younger generations perceive themselves and their lives the way they do.  Whether we're right or wrong, they are who they're determined to be!

WE will succeed and achieve FAR greater results for our businesses and ourselves when becoming the coaches/trainers/mentors of these YOUNGER FOLKS, as opposed holding on to the dictatorial management methods based on control, threat, and fear.

As far as the "BRILLIANTS" being attracted to Auto Retail (Hey Tim!), I believe that would only be TRUE if we as dealers only "stick with what we know", meaning, that auto retailers don't advance their leadership and business methods. 

Auto retailing allows any individual to be engaged in one of the most important moments in the lives of their clients...buying a car!  You get to hear great stories, share you wisdom, make an impact in your community, be creative, earn a very good income, and build some very good lifelong friendships.

This sounds like a DYNAMITE career to me!

~~Can we agree on The Eagles?  Tom Petty?  Lynyrd Skynyrd? or The Allman Brothers?~~

Comment by Timothy Martell on February 9, 2014 at 7:52pm

With all due respect Tom, I think the "BRILLIANT's" you mention are never going to be attracted to auto-retail. Those that are will either be immediately discouraged by the old boys network, or like me, they'll have a ton of success in a short time and realize very quickly how capped the ceiling is in auto retail for the truly talented and end up in the vendor space like us.

Why would the next billionaire want to be capped at $300-$500k/year? And don't sell me on becoming a dealer principal, because you need to risk far too much for far too little. And for anyone reading this that doesn't know me, bear in mind that 2014 marks my father's 45th year in a business that I spent 21 years in myself before becoming a vendor.

Comment by Tom Vann on February 9, 2014 at 6:18am

From a Salesperson's standpoint, "Dictator-Style" management CAN work for some. 

It worked for Brian Bennington and it works for Jerry Thibeau.  But look, we're a bunch of old dudes who grew up in a generation FAR different than the tow following ours.

Today's younger generations perceive themselves to have FAR more choices, FAR more FREEDOM to CHOOSE, and FAR MORE LISTENERS to their messages (Have you seen who's on top of the TOP 100 YouTube Channels?)!  And guess what...they're right!

Buddy, it was Foghat, Vanilla Ice Cream, Baseball cards, and Speed Racer for me.  Other than that we hunted Muskrat, rode 1st Gen Skateboards, and jigsawed wooden guns out of $2 plank wood.

Not today.  The younger generations became the FASTEST BILLIONAIRES EVER (while riding 2nd & 3rd gen skateboards), and each of 'em knew they could call the cops if the school principal pulled out a big wooden paddle (with holes drilled-in for better aero-dynamics).

Jerry mentioned the strength of the "Military" when it comes to "Dictator-Style" leadership.  Let's face it, the military has a captive audience can't leave without getting thrown in jail!

The younger generations aren't bad ...just different.

Our positions as Leaders of Dealerships (and Training Companies or whatever) demands that we TOO understand and grow with our ever-changing culture.  If Dictator-style management only works on the Jerry's and Brian's and Tom's, then we miss out on the BRILLIANT talents of those with different personality types, different skill sets, and most poignantly, those who have different cultural beliefs and ideas than those from the "older" generations.

And if we choose NOT to understand and grow in the way we LEAD, COACH, and MENTOR our newer generations of potential employees, we shall wither away like vinyl records, UHF TV, and Jiffy Pop Popcorn.

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on February 8, 2014 at 10:05am

There are various leadership styles, as outlined in this Fast Company article -

I believe there is a time and place for all of them.

But I believe even an authoritarian or even coercive leadership style (which I have used at times) is distinctively different from being a dictator, the origin of which basically means telling someone what to do:

1350–1400; Middle English  /span> Latin dictātor,  equivalent to dictā ( re ) (see dictate) + -tor 

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on February 8, 2014 at 9:56am

No disrespect intended Jerry, but I believe there is an EXTREME difference between a LEADER who trains and develops a successful team, and a DICTATOR who has a strictly "my way or the highway" mentality with no consideration for the welfare of his group. There are entire books on leadership - not a lot on how to be a dictator. Just like there is a distinct difference between a leader and a MANAGER - lead people and manage processes isn't just a catchphrase.

From Mirriam-Webster -
LEADER:  a person who has commanding authority or influence
DICTATOR: a person who rules a country with total authority and often in a cruel or brutal way

The US presidency is set up as a leadership position who has distinct rules to follow is accountable to the other branches of his government and his populace, while the regime in Cuba is headed by a dictator who is accountable to nobody and follows no rules.

A good leader plots a course of action that takes into consideration the accomplishment of corporate or team goals, as well as the benefits or consequences to his team. In a free-market economy, a leader will develop a strong team that works as a unit for the long term. He tends to be the best salesperson / bullshit spreader of the pack. A dictator blows people out and wonders why turnover is high and nobody gives a crap.

Comment by Jerry Thibeau on February 7, 2014 at 7:27am

Tom, The word leader is used to describe dictator.  Dictators also surround themselves with strong people and solicit advice.  We're splitting hairs here.

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on February 6, 2014 at 3:40pm

Brian - is your cocktails of choice invite open to everyone? LOL

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