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Automobile Sales Managers – Stick To Your Knitting




One of Tom Peters rants is “Stick to the knitting.” For an automobile sales manager, my interpretation is stick to what you are paid to do – no deviation. In fact, this just might be one occasion when it really is okay to say “It’s not my job” if it isn’t related to selling automobiles.

I thought of this Peterism recently when a manager shared some thoughts about an upcoming project. He told me the project will be housed in his facility; but other than being landlord he has little to do with the proposal.

What happened is that the day after being informed his facility would be home for this project and given an overview of what the project is, he emailed the project leader a list of ideas he believed would be of interest.

Shortly after hitting SEND, the manager received a reply that essentially said “Thank you for the input but mind your own business.”

As he thought about this, he realized that although direct, the reply was spot-on.

Whether you are an automobile sales manager of a new car dealership or a used car store, if your next action is not focused on driving traffic to your automobile dealership, or following up on a prospect, or coaching the automobile salespeople then you are not sticking to your knitting. Sure, there are some administrative tasks you are accountable for. But I bet your bonus structure is not tied to them.

In an automobile dealership, it is so easy for a sales manager to get side tracked. Like the manager above, getting involved with stuff that isn’t even related to his position. I know he’s not alone in this regard.

There are all kinds of time stealers. One that is getting to be more prevalent is Socializing. Now before you get on your high and mighty rocker, some socializing is good. Automobile sales managers need to invest time just chatting with their car salespeople. Part of being an effective manager is knowing your people. The Socializing I am referring to is not so visible. Not so visible because if someone saw you, it wouldn’t be quite obvious that you are Socializing. In fact, at work you are often by yourself when participating in this type of Socializing.

You know the Socializing I am referring to, don’t you?

It is those quick little text messages between you and home, you and a friend, you and the bowling league, you and the world. Oh it is only thirty seconds here and a minute there and…

Recently I had a Business Manager take offense when I suggested she was spending a little too much time on her Blackberry texting and not doing what she ought to be doing. “Its only a few seconds, why be difficult about this?” is the Readers Digest version of her thoughts on my concern about her texting while at work.

Here’s a reality check. According to a study performed by the PEW Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, “…over half of all business text messages are personal in nature. In fact, almost a third of the respondents stated that 100% of their text messages were personal.” The study concluded, “From our own experience, those who use text messaging do so in considerable volumes. Thus, notable personal text messaging volumes can significantly reduce employee productivity.”

 

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One consideration that is essential is automobile store management must have a policy regarding texting and other social media during business hours. For sales people, being connected means having access and being able to work the various social media avenues during work hours. And, there will be a need for F&I and the Service Center to have occasional use. How much texting and social media activity during work hours is acceptable? That’s the question.

That question can only be answered by understanding the demographic of your market. What is constant, is that during work hours any online activity that is not focused on moving the business forward is, as Cathie wrote on Blogspot, stealing. “If someone is sending personal texts on company time, they are stealing from their employer (they are on the clock and time is money). There was a day when people used to go to work and actually work.” Bravo to Cathie for having the intestinal fortitude to express what most automobile sales managers believe but are not gutsy enough to speak.

Joe Verde has this saying, “Go to work to work”. Isn’t that the way it ought to be? Stick to the knitting. As an automobile sales manager, is your next action focused on driving traffic to your store, or following up on a prospect, or coaching? Create a rough daily log and make a tick each time you reach for your mobile device to either read, reply to, or create a non-work related text message. Ask yourself, “Is this in the best interest of the folks who sign my paycheck?” If anything but Yes then don’t do it. Your automobile sales team and Business Managers will model what they see. And, should you ever have to address non-business mobile device activity with a staff member, you can do it in good conscience.




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