August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rick Boudreau - Also by this author

An entrepreneur, aka your Dealer Principle – is a person who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assuming the risk for the sake of profit.

Why Service Managers Fail:

Many service managers measure their success by the manner in which they handle customer complaints, how they nurture their relationship with the manufacturer or by their friendly relationship with the people within the dealership.

Many service managers fail when they don’t have an accurate read on the daily activities in their department.

Many service managers fail when they simply react to problems in contrast to being assertive, analytical, motivational and proactive.

Many service managers fail when their department hasn’t grown in proportion to the new customers generated by their true partners, the sales department.

Management is not so much about authority as it is about influence, and the only effective way to develop that influence is through good communication.

Management is about getting people to want to do what you want them to do. It’s about connecting with people: your staff, your customers, your boss and your manufacturer. It’s about leadership: establishing priorities, setting goals, getting things done and making things happen. It’s about being creative, resourceful, logical, determined and focused. Managers remove barriers to improve performance. Managers avoid playing favorites. Managers must be viewed as credible and competent to lead, and managers must have the ability to show their people what good performance looks like.

As leaders, managers provide their staff with something they can’t provide themselves. People wouldn’t need leaders if they always knew what to do. Employees need help in seeing what’s possible. They need direction on how to proceed and the confidence to take action. Managers help their staff believe in themselves.

If you are new in your management position or are contemplating a career change, consider the importance of gaining the following information.

You want your Dealer Principal to be satisfied with your efforts—find out why your predecessor left. Ask your Dealer Principal what his expectations are and write it down. Ask your Dealer Principal what your scope of authority is and write it down. Find out what your employees expect from you and write it down.

In essence, your mandate is to be mindful of entrepreneurship. Establish priorities and accomplish an overall improvement to the following objectives: retain more customers, improve customer satisfaction, increase retail labor and parts sales, minimize expenses, hire the best people, develop the very best in your staff and create a pleasant working environment.

With your full knowledge of the service advisor’s role, provide your people with job descriptions and a list of your expectations. Your expectations should include specifically how your people are to interact with every customer, toward each other, their punctuality, attendance, cooperation and accountability.

If your people are well trained and empowered with the autonomy to carry out their responsibilities, this action will take most of the heat off you, the service manager. The net result is more control over your time, time to coach and motivate and time to measure your department’s progress.

Let your people make mistakes. Encourage progress, not perfection. Use job performance appraisals and let your people know how they are doing. You’ll be amazed how this approach contributes to morale and getting things done.

When your people know what’s expected of them, and you trust their decisions, support their efforts, reward them with acknowledgement of their good work, customer paid sales improve, CSI improves and customers come back.

Good luck!

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