Sometimes duty calls, and you get pulled away from a thread of posts. Now that the DealerKnows Summer Camp has been put in motion, I can get back to this series.
- The Need for Strong Leadership in Times of Uncertainty
- The Importance of Accountability in Dealership Management
- The Pitfalls of Lack of Accountability in Management
- Find Your Leaders in Dealer Management
- The Importance of Having a Heroic Leader (You need a Tom Brady)
- Management Driven Dealership
- If It’s Not You, Then Who?
A few weeks have passed since the last post, and so much has happened in the car business world. Some dealerships are drowning in inventory, while others are still dealing with barren lots. The NADA Conference came and went, bringing its shiny objects, parties, and COVID-superspreader-event tendencies. And, increasingly, many leaders in dealer management are back to cutting headcount and contracts due to fears of a recession. What a difference a few weeks can make.
The Need for Strong Leadership in Times of Uncertainty
During this time of constant fluctuation, we need someone to look to let us know it’s going to be OK. Someone who can say they’ve been through this before. Someone who has a plan and knows ways to measure progress in many forms. Someone we trust to point us in the right direction, someone who doesn’t blame subordinates but accepts the burden for failure. Those people, whatever their titles, are the leaders in dealer management responsible for success.
The Importance of Accountability in Dealership Management
The lack of accountability among middle managers might be the worst failure point in all of retail automotive. If there is one universal takeaway from any book about a titan of industry, it’s that said titan took the football and ran with it. And, as a bookish person, I can’t say I’ve heard of a book about a titan of industry named I Don’t Know. Someone has to take responsibility for the success or failure. Otherwise, the business is simply running itself. That’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t justify titles or higher salaries for cogs in the machine.
If a decision-maker has made it through the stages of why it matters now, has a plan in hand, and understands how success will be measured, it must clearly be defined who manages the implementation. That decision ultimately reverberates down the organizational chart. Someone has to take the wheel to ensure that those implementing the new initiative can execute it properly. If that chain of command is unclear, the leaders in dealer management need to return to the planning phase.
The Pitfalls of Lack of Accountability in Management
Too many times has a great plan been devised only to die on the vine because no one was designated as responsible for making it happen. Sure, there are lots of people with “manager” in their title, and some organizations have more “chiefs” than a Fire Department Instructors Conference. Still, it doesn’t mean any of them are held directly accountable for the failure of an initiative. No, they’re just tasked with firing the subordinates for failure. And, when success does happen, everyone wants to take credit for their part. It’s easy because no one was in charge in the first place.
Find Your Leaders in Dealer Management
More importantly, the success or failure of a new initiative does not fall on the shoulders of a vendor, a consultant, or a manufacturer representative. If that’s the expectation, then those individuals need to be at your place of business every single day and will have the authority to reorganize their team with the proper people (that is, hire and fire). It also needs to be prioritized in dealer management job descriptions. Moreover, those individuals will need the necessary authority to override subordinate management as befitting the magnitude of the initiative’s directives.
If you think no business owner in their right mind would do this, then you would be correct. If any third party at your business cares more about the business than its leaders, it is time for new leaders. If someone in your group isn’t qualified to take the reigns of the next big thing, train the team to make it successful, and account for successes and failures properly, it’s time to go back to the planning phase. Your organization is responsible for its own success. Plain and simple.
The Importance of Having a Heroic Leader (You need a Tom Brady)
This truth will certainly hurt some, but the lack of true leaders in dealership management has plagued hundreds of businesses I’ve worked with. Tens, sometimes hundreds, of thousands of dollars get committed…months, sometimes years, of peoples’ lives wasted on the next grand scheme…just because no one was there to fight for victory when it mattered.
Before any business embarks on the next big thing, they need to know they have someone with the intensity of Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, Nolan Ryan, or Alex Ovechkin…someone that will put the entire thing on their back if necessary to win. You need a hero way worse than any Footloose soundtrack.
Management Driven Dealership
Whether it’s adding new complexity in the form of technology, or assigning new tricks to old dogs, an individual (or a cross-functional group of individuals) needs to be able to see it through. The leaders in dealer management need to either devise the plan outlined in Step One or understand it so completely that they can communicate it to anyone.
They need to be able to define the metrics for success, which means gathering the necessary measurements, designing a way to conduct those measurements, or being 100% responsible for the results of outsourcing those activities outlined in Step Two. Without this individual, no matter how significant Steps One and Two are, success will be accidental, at best.
If It’s Not You, Then Who?
I’m not going to add another teaspoon of wisdom to a vast ocean of content on leaders in dealer management and personal development. And, as a decision-maker, you’ve probably read so much about it that it starts to blend together. However, if you’re still working on or already altering your 2023 strategy, ask yourself who owns the success or failure of those bullet points.
Who oversees the success OR failure of the equity mining tool, TikTok videos, or CRM training? If you’re not confident enough to give the person a huge raise for success or demote them for failure, AND you know you’re not able to shoulder the burden yourself, then your gut should be telling you it’s time to revisit the plan. After the hellscape of the last three years, is your business healthy enough not to?