Dealer Expo 2010: Back To Basics Management

Publish Date: 
Feb 14, 2010

Good dealership management is more than merely running day-to-day operations. So concluded a group of dealers meeting with Steve Zarwell during Saturday morning’s Dealernews LIVE! Round Table Discussion. Here are some of the ideas discussed:

Mission statements. They’re more than just a sentence or two; they define your store. “A mission statement gives clarity to what purpose you have for opening your doors in the morning,” Zarwell said. Simply putting one in place will help you and your staff remember why you’re there.

Rapport with customers. It’s important for managers to be out on the floor. Zarwell cited Walmart, which now requires its managers to be out on the floor for at least 50 percent of workday.

Doing this is a double-edged sword, however, as most dealers at the roundtable reported that greeting customers often gets them stuck talking to “Chatty Cathys” and others who want a little more leisurely time.

“Sometimes it gets difficult, because you want to be there for your customers and greet them, but it often ends up that you don’t have the time to check in on service or other departments,” said Fabio Perez, an independent dealer from Panama City.

The solution? “Give the authority to your salespeople to take care of the customers,” Zarwell said. In other words, speak highly of your staff in front of customers to convey faith. “Tell your customers, ‘sooner or later, I’m going to be gone for a weekend and this guy will take care of you.’”

Turning to customers for help. “You ever met a customer who wouldn’t tell you how you could do better?” Zarwell noted. Don’t be afraid to ask for opinions and advice from the very people you’re trying to sell to.

You don’t need managers for every department. This is especially true for small stores. “This industry started with family-owned businesses,” Zarwell said. “What you’re seeing out there are people wanting to connect back to what used to be ‘good.’ (Continued)