AM Online

Guest opinion: New breed of DPs required for automotive retailing

Doreen Yarnold, director, Leading Results

There has never been a more important time for automotive groups to ensure their dealer principals (DPs) are up to the job of managing and leading their retail businesses.

High-calibre people, efficient processes and modern technology all make the difference in the race to stay ahead in the retailing game.

When groups appoint DPs to run multi-million-pound retail businesses, mediocrity can no longer be tolerated.

Nor should the out-dated ‘tap on the shoulder’ or ‘nod and a wink’ to the best performing sales manager be the route to the job, but sadly these practices are not uncommon. 

The more progressive groups are promoting and recruiting to a core set of DP competencies and capabilities, using psychometrics to support the process.

Some are widening their scope of potential candidates to include those from finance, banking and other similar service industries.

With our industry getting to grips with embracing a combined customer and employee-centric culture, our DP community must step-up to the plate.

There is no other way. Gone should be the days when:

  • DPs sit in their office all day acting as a figurehead for all to behold
  • DPs spend the majority of their time meddling in sales like a comfort blanket
  • Line managers and staff are not proactively developed for role progression/expansion
  • Feedback happens by exception – and only when things go wrong
  • Giving praise is regarded as being weak
  • Involving the team in business issues and problems isn’t even considered
  • Employees are told what to do, but rarely why or how
  • Departments work against each other, as if on opposing sides of a game

We’re all familiar with that particular breed of DP which is thankfully on its way to extinction. We hope. 

The good news for all of us is that the new breed of DP that the automotive industry so badly needs is now within reach.

It’s not only boy bands and hit records that can be manufactured – our industry is experiencing a period of unprecedented change not seen for many decades.

The skills, knowledge, competencies and mental strength required to successfully manage our retail businesses are all learnable. Personality, however, cannot be learned – this is innate.

Recruiting, promoting and developing our community of DPs has never been more important than it is today.

If groups are not developing their DPs in the new and exciting skills required of modern leaders, they are missing a significant trick that may not harm their business in a relatively buoyant market, but most definitely will when the next recession hits.

Author: Doreen Yarnold, director, Leading Results  

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  • Jim Bonner - 12/08/2017 14:25

    I agree the Motor trade is changing , Dealer principle job is changing still unsure about that one , like all leaders there are good and not so good ,if we can assume that most leaders strive for success then why do we feel that the Dealer Principles we have are old hat , my observation would be that their style of Management may have to change but their principle of leadership has to stay as focused as ever . I feel the Manufacturer has to accept a lot of the blame , we have as an industry over the last Twenty years or so dug a hole that is now so deep that I belief we may never get out off , the cause of this is pre-registration exercises , we are now at a point of no return and because of this it looks as though our Managers are failing but in fact it is the Motor industry in freefall . I have been a Manager in the Motor trade for over forty years and I have enjoyed every minute.