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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development Manager

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Leadership is not About Managing: Top Reasons to Empower Your Managers

It can be easy as a GM to sit there and make all of the decisions for the dealership; managing everything from sales, service, marketing, and the hiring of new staff on the dealer level. Meanwhile, you have a management staff of at least five to six managers who should be more than capable of managing their departments. However, they cannot effectively lead or develop their teams if they are not empowered to do so by the GM; this is not to say the GM should not be involved with their management team, either. What this is offering is that there is a big difference from being involved to micromanaging their management style with their team. To avoid losing your sales managers - causing morale issues - here are the top things to consider as a GM. 

How to Effectively Manage Your Sales Managers. Avoid Making Your Sales Managers Dependent on You to Make Decisions. 

If your sales manager does not have the confidence to close a deal or write numbers on a trade, then you have some serious problems. First and foremost, your manager cannot be an effective leader if they have to spend their time coming to you on every deal s/he is working on. Not to mention, your sales team can see through the facade. Once your sales team realizes that you do not trust your sales manager to make a decision it can damage the respect they have for their sales manager. All of which can create tension among your sales staff and managers. To avoid this issue altogether, it is best to clearly outline what they can and cannot do when it comes to writing numbers on a trade or what their limit is when closing a deal. In doing so, not only does this empower your sales manager to make a decision that is beneficial for the dealership, but it also boosts morale on the dealer level. And this is not to say that there will not be some instances in which your sales manager has to come to you to review a deal. However, instead of your sales manager feeling micromanaged they will feel empowered to come you versus it being a regular occurrence. 

Beyond the ability to make decisions regarding a deal or trade-in your sales managers also need autonomy to do stuff for their staff. The best way to manage this is by giving your sales manager a quarterly budget for team building events, lunches, etc. In doing so, your managers will feel empowered to make decisions for their staff. But if they have to come to their GM for every decision including ordering $100 worth of pizza for a Saturday lunch then make no mistake; your sales managers will not make the effort to do any team building events or work towards creating a better morale. 

Making Disparaging Remarks about Your Management Team In-Front of the Sales Team. 

You might have to bite your tongue, but it is never a good idea to make disparaging remarks about your management team in front of the sales consultants. This can and will cause moral damage; not just for your sales manager, but also your sales consultants. Whether you agree or not with your sales manager, it is best to have those conversations in private. In doing so, you can ensure your sales manager is aware of your thoughts, but this can be done without crushing them in front of their staff. If you have made disparaging remarks in front of their staff then - as difficult as it might be - it is best to apologize to the staff. By making the bold move to apologize it can both restore and boost the morale.  

Not Finding Out All of the Facts. Calling Them Into Your Office Based On What One Sales Consultant Said. 

This is a huge, huge no-no! Calling your sales manager into the office - with the disgruntled sales consultant - without having first taken the time to speak with your sales manager will cause for multiple issues. First and foremost, your sales manager will feel attacked, which can and will in most cases put them into defensive mode. To which the sales consultant can up-play, which will quickly turn into a heated argument. Instead of taking this approach when it comes to an issue voiced with a sales consultant you should do the following: 

First:  ask the sales consultant have they spoken with their sales manager. If they say “no” then you need to redirect them back to their sales manager. Allowing your sales consultant to bad mouth their sales manager without having spoken with them can set a bad example. If the employee says that they have indeed spoken with their sales manager, but nothing has evolved then ask your sales consultant when they spoke with their manager. In doing so, you are merely getting facts to which you can review with your sales manager. 

Second: take a minute to get with your sales manager in private. First, take a minute, and ask how their day is going. As jumping right into the issue can be viewed as an attack. When you do inquire about the employee issue first ask “did the sales consultant get with you regarding this issue.” If the sales manager says “yes” then inquire what happened. However, if the sales manager says “no” then you need to get the facts from the sales manager and let him know he needs to speak with the employee. But avoid calling the sales consultant into the office while speaking with the manager. It is best for the sales manager and employee to work out the issue together. If they are unable to resolve the issue then at that point you can get involved to work it out. 

Third: avoid inquiring about the issue with other sales managers. It might be easy after a long day to inquire about the issue with another sales manager, which can be misconstrued and be seen as your pitting one manager against the other. This can be very damaging and will cause morale issues. 

Bottom Line: By following the steps above you are showing support for your manager. And while your manager might be in the wrong it is best that they work out the issue with the employee. In doing so, both the sales consultant and sales manager can build mutual respect for one another, which can have a positive impact on morale! 

How Do You Empower Your Sales Managers to Both Lead and Develop Their Staff? 

R. J. James

Derrick... GREAT Advise!!!  Following this process would make any Manager more of a Coach and less of a Micro-Manager.

Bart Wilson

Agreed RJ.  Coach = Leader, and we need more leaders in the dealership.

I've experienced both sides of this.  I've had bosses that let me stretch and grow as well as those that felt like they could always do my job better than me.  There is a major difference in these two cultures.

R. J. James

Bart... Likewise, I have experienced both cultures.  Fortunately, one nugget of wisdom from my first Manager Trainer proved invaluable, "Learn everything you can from every manager you work with... KEEP what they do well and AVOID what they do wrong!"

Derrick Woolfson

@Bart, it is an incredible feeling when you have the autonomy to grow and develop. One of the biggest takeaways having been micromanaged in the past is the fact that I did not realize how negative/cynical I had become. Whereas now, it is strongly encourgaed to bring new/innovative ideas to the table. And as a result of that, it pushes me to colloborate and develop new ideas. 

Derrick Woolfson

@R.J. - I like that quote! And that is exactly what I did as I worked my way up to the BDC Manager role. It was always intriguing, though, to see the "old school' ways of doing things. The managers that refused to adopt made their way out. 

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