Creating a good culture takes time and the right people, but it also takes vision. As I travel all over the US recruiting and training salespeople, I get to see a lot of different cultures. Just like grains of sand, there seem to be endless philosophies about how to sell cars. The car business is changing at a lightning pace…..for a snail. Yes, the Internet has changed a lot of things, but most dealers are content with forcing the Internet into their philosophy instead of analyzing how the future might look and adapting ahead of the curve.
One might say that there is no clear view of what the future holds. Well, let’s consider the fall of General Motors and Chrysler in 2008. Could that happen again? What if the government didn’t bail them out this time?
What if state franchise laws were abolished in favor of allowing auto manufacturers to stay afloat by cutting costs and selling direct?
Could this happen? I don’t know, you be the judge.
All dealerships should consider what value proposition they offer that would allow them to compete if the manufacturer was able to sell direct. This is what I mean by forward-thinking.
One thing that will set any dealer apart is its people. Surround yourself with good people who are generally happy at work, are paid well, and feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves, and you will be successful. How do you attract such people? Create a culture that supports a vision for the reason the dealership exists and promote that vision.
I once saw a dealership that had a bad reputation in a small town get purchased by an outsider that was perceived as “not one of the locals.” In the course of 3 years, this dealer went from a bad reputation run by an “outsider” to one of the premier places to work in the town. The employees were so loyal to the dealer that they would nearly come to blows if anyone began to verbally attack the dealer or the dealership. Additionally, they went from the bottom in volume to a top 10 dealership for their new car brand in the region.
The dealer created a culture around helping the community with all sorts of things: fundraising for the school, trash clean up, festivals, big brother & big sisters, awareness for various diseases, and much more. The employees bought in and most importantly, the community bought in because this was the genuine heart of the dealer.
Dealers, employee turnover hurts your reputation just as much or more than bad surveys and google reviews. Take the time to have a vision meeting with your staff. Create a plan. Agree on the plan. Implement the plan. Then work towards creating a culture that supports the vision and make every decision with the vision in mind. Not only will this action make your store a great place to work, but it will also create clients that are raving fans.
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Andy Buck is a Christian, husband, and father of 2. He has been in the automotive business for over 25 years and is skilled at team building, processes, sales, and training. Andy has held every position from salesperson to General Manager and is currently a Recruiter and Trainer for Automax.