We’ve been talking about your car lot as if it were a motor vehicle. Let’s go out to the service department and have a look under the hood.

Twenty-three percent of businesses that fail identify “Not the Right Team” (NTRT) as a major contributing factor. We discussed previously about having the right finance team that fits your business, now, make sure everyone else fits it, also.

NTRT can encompass many different concepts, but let’s look at the most basic. What are you doing, and how do you expect to accomplish it? The “how” of that question is inextricably tied to “who” will accomplish it.

Define your goals and your plans to your team, and see if they are wearing the right jersey. Do they have the skills and experience to help you? Are you willing to train if not? It is said that you can modify behaviors with training in about 10 to 20% of the people out there. Not change, just modify. Don’t expect to hire someone with polar opposite attitudes about the industryto readily accept your perspective with a little persuasion.

Analyze whether you have the right person doing the right job. If someone isn’t doing well, it could be the role, not necessarily the ability. There is a business concept called The Peter Principle, and simply put, it involves promoting people to just beyond their level of competence. A Salesman who is a consistent leader in sales may NOT make a good Sales Manager, but 95% of them will be made a Sales Manager simply because. Before promoting anyone, meet with the person and define the role and responsibilities and see if their abilities will accommodate the new position. This is where your gut feeling needs to help you out, because most people want to be promoted, and may try to assure you that yes, they can handle the new job. If you aren’t sure, prime them for it before promoting, by taking some aspect of the new role, and allowing them to experience it. If they do well, add another responsibility. Keep going until you have either promoted them, or you hit their wall of competence. It may not be the whole job, but just one aspect of it.

I’ve met more than a few managers who were great at managing, coaching, and getting awesome levels of performance out of their employees, but were absolute garbage at budgeting or accounting. (And a few the other way around, too.) If this is the case, ask yourself, is this an all-or-nothing promotion, or do you find someone to handle that part of the role to allow the other to perform what they can? Be flexible and allow some role-exchange where people are comfortable with it, as long as it doesn’t affect the core position.

This exploration into the workings of your team needs to include the WHOLE team, because fixing the steering is useless if you leave the rear axle broken.

One large issue I have seen in dealerships is a lack of trust by owners and partners. People can’t shine in the darkness of your shadow. Back off, and let them work. Let your managers manage. It’s why you have them, after all. Undermining them hurts you both, and demoralizes the employees. Most people realize when the “manager” is nothing more than a title on a business card. Managers should be empowered to do their job, and supported when they do it.  

Poorly defined roles will lead to poor performance. People should know what is expected of them, and what to expect of you. Moving the goal posts leads only to frustrated players who give up finding them after a while.  

Be honest and professionally constructive with your appraisals of your staff, and give them the opportunity to help you move them, if need be, into a better fitting role.

Finally, mirror time. Look honestly at what you bring to the table, and be willing to admit that you need help somewhere. Your employees will tell you. Maybe not directly, but if you listen closely, you’ll hear what is actually being said.  

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