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Efficient retailing No.20: Build a management team that you can depend on

In the latest of our series of insights into running an efficient dealership, Thurlby Motors managing director Chris Roberts looks at management team performance

I have talked quite a lot about basic business strategies and how small improvements in targeting and measurement can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line.

However, to get many changes implemented you often have to rely heavily on the management team.

Unfortunately, I can’t count how often I have seen general managers having to revisit actions because they felt unable to rely on their senior managers to complete them.

Why is this?

Firstly we have to take a look at the historic structure of many dealerships’ management teams.

It was often the case, and sometimes still is, that the natural progression in a business was for the best sales person to become sales manager and best technician to become service manager.

Although this worked in some cases, the skill set required to be a manager is vastly different to that of other employees.

As such, some departments suffered from a lack of leadership and motivation due mainly to the manager lacking some basic management skills.

So, what if you are in the above situation; how can you improve things? Let’s start with some simple actions.

It is often a good idea, particularly if you are new to a business or unaware of your team’s experience, to get them to provide you with an up-to-date CV.

This will give you a good indication of prior job roles and qualifications in addition to highlighting weaknesses which can then be addressed through training and coaching.

It is reasonable to expect, in more mature businesses, that many of the team won’t have current CVs, in which case, get the team to produce them.

It will give you a great insight into their communication, literacy and presentation skills.

When you have established the training needs for the management team the next step is to develop individual training plans to address any weaknesses.

It is often worth looking outside the manufacturer environment for some of the training as more often than not, in my experience, the weaknesses tend to be around such things as time management, business planning, effective communication and coaching skills.

The frustration around tasks not being carried out either on time or effectively can be enormous, but let’s not forget the general manager’s role in effective leadership.

Often I have been involved with businesses where the GM has been highly critical about the team of line managers, when in fact the problem actually revolved around their own lack of skills and ability to lead.

It is always important to follow a few simple rules when delegating tasks or changes:

  • Explain why the change is necessary
  • Explain about the desired outcome of the change
  • Agree a strategy to implement the change
  • Set specific targets to ensure improvements are measured
  • Agree a strict timeline for completion
  • Review progress regularly
  • Offer support.

Finally, being an effective leader means displaying all the characteristics you expect from others, so take frequent looks in the mirror.

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