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What Does Leadership Really Mean to a Dealership?

Many people often think of leaders as the captain of a boat steering the ship in a particular direction or a general on a battlefield.

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Many people often think of leaders as the captain of a boat steering the ship in a particular direction or a general on a battlefield.

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I like to think of leadership more as the coach of the football team and the departments of the dealership are just like the units of a football team: defense equals service department and fixed operations; the offense equals the sales department and special teams, which can include, admin, rental and many others.

I want all the dealers or general managers to now put themselves in this same light as the coach of your dealership “team” and ask yourself what’s the best way to drive the ball down the field? It starts for most coaches with the game plan, right? How can I possibly execute without a game plan? Ask yourself today, do I have a game plan that my people can execute on or do they make it up as they go along? Have you seen games where there was no game plan and the chaos it creates?

Here’s an interesting story. I recently was invited to present to a local dealership group and the dealer principle came in and introduced me to his six F&I managers and then left the room for the entire presentation. His F&I people had no idea why they were there, what they were going to see and talk about and what the game plan was. How could this team possibly drive the ball for the dealer?

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A good leader must set up his people for success if he or she is to have any chance at execution. Leaders need to communicate clearly to the employees what the game plan is, what the goals are, what level of empowerment they have prior to game day. For the record, this game was a washout for the dealership as they won’t be moving the ball down the field at all.

Now let’s discuss setting up the game plan, and to make it simple, we will keep special teams out of it:

Offense
Sell as many cars as possible and F&I sell extended service agreements and maintenance to as many customers as possible to drive customers to the service drive for service retention. Sales sets the first appointment up and introduces the customer to the service department.

Defense
Always offer convenience and full multi-point inspections and recommended services to customers and present equity upgrade opportunities to customers and maybe get crazy and offer F&I products in the drive?

I know you’re all thinking this is very basic but it’s just to illustrate the concept and talk about the next steps. Given you have this very basic game plan, the next thing we need are the people and the process and the technology to execute the plan. Good leaders now can clearly understand how the pieces fit together, right?

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People — Do we have the right people to execute the plan? If not, step back before trying to execute. Could you imagine a football team trying to play with no one at running back?

Process — Once we execute the game plan, can we sustain it with training and reinforcement? Isn’t it true that most professional teams always practice? Do you practice at all with yours? Training and role playing, etc. is a form of practice.

Technology — Do we have all the tools we need to execute the plan? If not, let’s look to get them in place prior to trying to execute the plan.

It seems pretty simple because it actually is simple. Our industry tends to over-complicate things as opposed to simplifying them for us. Start developing your game plan today and go win one for yourself. 


Click here to view more solutions from Phil Battista and Darwin Automotive.

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