A General Manager’s Guide to Improvement
Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I’ll spend the first four honing the axe, as Abe Lincoln once famously declared.
The lesson here is obviously that success, especially long-term success, depends on preparation and staying sharp at all times.
General managers, who serve as the captain of the ship and are in charge of all the dealership’s departments, are aware that constant development is essential to maintaining a successful business.
There are several duties that general managers (GMs) must perform on a weekly, if not daily, basis, ranging from straightforward chores like driving the lot and writing checks to more routine ones like evaluating receivables and payables, warranty funding, rebates, and manufacturer programs.
But GMs need to stay on top of rapidly evolving market trends if they want to manage a profitable and effective dealership that consistently satisfies customers and expands its market share. Here, we’ll provide a few tactical tips that general managers can employ to sharpen their abilities and advance their companies.
After hearing what your customers have to say, go above and beyond.
Check your company’s ratings on sites like DealerRater, Edmunds, Yelp, and Google frequently. It’s critical that you remain informed about what they liked and disliked about their experience, as well as whether they had any expectations that you weren’t able to fulfill.
Try to respond to all reviews, especially the bad ones, and recognize them all. If necessary, call the reviewer to discuss the problem. Talk to any of your managers or staff members who may have been mentioned in the evaluations (positive or negative) before you reach out to them to gain their perspective.
Customers are requesting more ease in their vehicle purchase and service experiences, which calls for innovation. Your primary objective should always be to surprise and satisfy your clients, whether it means offering a comprehensive online buying option, exceptional amenities, and incentives, increased digital interactions, pickup and delivery, or any other factor.
Select (and Hold on to) Quality Workers
There is a case to be made that auto dealerships profit more than any other industry from having a friendly and knowledgeable workforce. It’s likely that customers who are making large purchases already have some preconceived (sometimes unfavorable) ideas when they enter the store.
Every employee in your dealership, from lot attendants and clerks to service consultants and salespeople, is accountable for delivering a remarkable customer experience. Make sure you make the effort to hire people with the proper personality and attitude, in addition to the appropriate ability and experience.
The following characteristics should be present at your dealership, per Automotive News, in order to draw and retain the top employees:
* A robust culture
* A modernized structure for jobs
* Effective management
Once you’ve put together your “dream team,” try your best to keep them inspired, motivated, and engaged. Jim Ziegler, a former GM executive who is now a well-known sales and marketing consultant for the automotive industry, advises holding regular meetings twice a week or more to motivate the team.
Ziegler said that a variety of department heads, including those in charge of new and used car sales, fleet sales, the director of finance and insurance, the manager of the business development center (BDC), and the chief financial officer, met to discuss:
* Time in service, wholesale revenues, and losses, as well as trade-ins that include recon expenses
* Who are our loaners’ primary drivers, and why? F&I product penetrations, per-copy averages, and leasing penetration
* number of clients that were funded for terms of 72 and 84 months
Along with set operations meetings with the service manager, parts manager, body shop manager, office manager, or controller to discuss: contracts in transit, funding delays, and transactions delivered but not approved
Open repair orders and tickets from the parts counter, especially those that are older than 30 days
Hours per RO on average
* The average amount each customer pays RO
* Quick lube times of in-and-out
* Techs’ inventory of the fluids and spare components they have on hand at their workstations for side jobs
Regular and honest communication will demonstrate your commitment to your team, enable you to lead from a position of knowledge and trust and encourage teamwork and employee empowerment.
Regular conferences, events, and networking
Remembering our opening quotation, dealers who fail to advance professionally will struggle to maintain their edge. One surefire way to stay connected with your peers, take part in interactive workshops, hear from inspirational keynote speakers, earn professional certification, learn about new technologies, get practical takeaways and best practices to implement right away at your dealership, and more is to attend at least one annual conference (whether it be virtual or in-person). A wonderful way to re-energize is to spend a few days away from the office at a professional conference.
You can maintain your dealership’s competitiveness by attending a handful of the top automotive industry conferences, including:
facilitating the Sales Executive Summit
the Convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)
The Convention of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIAD)
For dealership general managers, the NADA 20 Group is a terrific place to network, obtain tested advice, and “learn from legends.”
Beyond these kinds of gatherings, many general managers (GMs) find it helpful to become members of associations like NADA 20 Group in order to “learn from legends” and frequently interact with other experts in order to benchmark, validate, and develop.
Actively track and apply market trends
Good GMs make an effort to remain engaged on social media and with other forms of online content. Keep your RSS feed updated with industry and marketing news by subscribing to newsletters, and Google alerts, and following relevant organizations and thought leaders on Twitter. You may be more proactive in seizing opportunities and averting potential pitfalls if you are more knowledgeable about changes and advancements in the automobile sector.
Speaking about Google, social media, and other online mediums, it is the responsibility of general managers to comprehend how efficient marketing, particularly digital advertising, may make or break their dealership. For complete insight and awareness of how marketing is operating across various digital media, GMs should regularly meet with marketing and BDC managers:
Social media ads
Providers of third-party leads for Google AdWords
Since the digital landscape is constantly changing, completing courses in digital marketing and obtaining certifications will significantly improve your capacity to comprehend, collaborate with, and manage vendor relationships.
Continue to be the go-to source for repairs, maintenance, and tires.
Dealership general managers are aware of how important service department clients are to their bottom line. The likelihood that General Motors will continue to enhance its overall performance increases if it can consistently entice customers to come in for their first servicing and return until they are ready for their next vehicle.
Through the provision of a range of perks that only renew when customers return for their scheduled maintenance, programs like SimpSocial help GMs make sure that vehicle owners return for servicing.
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