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Why Manager Accountability at the Dealership Matters: A Q&A Session with Automotive Expert Justin Brun

Management is a result-driven discipline; if you’re not holding people accountable, you’re not doing your job. But today’s dealership managers wear more hats than ever — from monitoring the CRM and keeping up with ad spends to handling upset customers and staying on top of training their staff — the list goes on.

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Todd Smith is the president & CEO of 360Converge

Management is a result-driven discipline; if you’re not holding people accountable, you’re not doing your job. But today’s dealership managers wear more hats than ever — from monitoring the CRM and keeping up with ad spends to handling upset customers and staying on top of training their staff — the list goes on. As a result, being responsible for one’s accountability and the accountability of others falls further down the list of priorities.

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What happens when manager accountability at the dealership suffers?

To answer this question, I’ve enlisted the help of industry leader and entrepreneur Justin Brun. Justin is the director of marketing and eCommerce at Acton Toyota located in Littleton, Massachusetts, and co-founder of Dynamic Beacon, an automotive digital marketing agency. He manages not one but two teams, so it’s safe to say Justin knows a thing or two about manager accountability.

Todd Smith: What does accountability mean to you?

Justin Brun: Accountability means having integrity at all times. Essentially, doing the right thing even when no one is watching. All members of the dealership should be both accountable to themselves and accountable to each other. Simply put, if you say you’re going to do something, do it. And, if you’re not going to execute, realize that not following through on your actions has consequences, and look to restore integrity with those who you may have disappointed.

TS: What happens when there’s no manager accountability at the dealership?

JB: Remember the movie Con Air? At the point where managers are not held accountable, the inmates will run the asylum. The dealership will also begin to experience higher turnover and lose high-potential employees. What’s more, projects that are discussed and deemed necessary may or may not be completed because managers are not driving productivity forward.

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TS: What are some challenges that come with building a culture of accountability at the dealership?

JB: The first challenge that comes to mind is resistance.  Every dealership has those staff members who are resistant to change — you know who I’m talking about. Heck, I don’t blame them. Often, those employees are more in control than management.

Another challenge is simply getting started.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to begin, or what steps to take. Hiring a business coach and creating a living, breathing document — called our “Best Year Yet” — is one of the greatest things we’ve ever done to help propel a culture of accountability at Acton Toyota.

TS: Is there a universal solution to these challenges? Do processes vary based on the workforce, size of the dealership, etc.?

JB: While no one solution fits every business model, there are universal steps toward accountability that dealers of different brands, locations and sizes can incorporate into their strategy. For starters, it’s essential for a new paradigm to be created from the top down; all stakeholders need to agree on a new vision for the operation.

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Next, leadership will need to produce core values that are universally shared by all dealership profit centers. These guiding principles will help execute the newly envisioned paradigm. And, if alive and well in the dealership, it’s these core values that will ultimately help run the operation. The staff will either believe in the new vision or leave.

In addition to establishing a new vision and core values, management should collaborate on determining its top 10 goals for the year. From there, it’s a matter of dividing and conquering — essentially who is accountable for each goal.

TS: What are three things managers can immediately do to foster employee accountability at the dealership?

JB: I believe the top three things would be:
1. Meet with your respective team more frequently and discuss topics relevant to that department/individual.
2. Review the impact of having employees who lack integrity. Who suffers? Am I able to trust this person when they tell me they’re going to do something?
3. Install a task management program that’s customizable to your dealership’s needs and is easy to adopt and use by all.

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Unite Your Team

Good managers understand that improving accountability at the dealership isn’t something done by flipping a switch. It’s a complex process that can be accomplished over time by building an infrastructure that supports it. Uniting under a shared vision and following the same core values creates a culture that values accountability.

Without accountability, the ability to truly manage doesn’t exist. Leadership can cast a grand vision, but without proper management and accountability, there is no foundation for opportunity, success and shared responsibility for progress.

Todd Smith

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