An auto dealership is an establishment that needs effective leadership to succeed - and if you’re reading this blog post, then you likely already know this to be true. A business person needs to be familiar with not only the many aspects of a dealership but also how to successfully lead the people who work there. After all, without your sales team, your dealership isn’t going to be standing for very long. So what does dealership leadership (try saying that ten times fast) entail? And how does one become the most effective leader possible?
Attitude, communication, flexibility, open-mindedness, influence, growth mindset - the list goes on. In this article, we’ll be looking at a few of these critical aspects of leadership and how they can help you become the very best leader possible at your dealership or automotive business.
Good Leaders Have a Clear Vision for Their Business
When you begin the process of starting a business, you'll need to have a clear vision of what you want the company to become. Keeping a focus on your vision not only helps you stay motivated as your company grows, but it also acts as a guiding path for your employees. How will your team know what meaningful contributions they can make at your dealership if they don’t understand your vision? Many aspects of your business will change over time, but a clear vision should remain consistent and be communicated effectively with your team.
Bring Your Enthusiasm
Aim to bring enthusiasm for the dealership with you each and every day. If you don't show your enthusiasm for the business, how can you expect your employees and customers to have a positive attitude? Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are contagious, so by modelling this behaviour you’ll create an environment that promotes happiness in your employees and customers.
You don’t need to be hanging from the rafters or have a constantly upbeat personality to display enthusiasm. Some you can model it include:
Working hard at your dealership and putting in extra effort when it’s needed
Maintaining a positive attitude in both good and tough situations
Getting to know your employees and taking a genuine interest in them
Not talking negatively about customers and putting a stop to toxic workplace culture
Enacting fair hiring practices and building a diverse team
Helping your team push their learning forward with valuable training
Dealership-wide incentive programs
Keeping your dealership in peak shape at all times, from delicious coffee in the customer lounge to fresh paint on the walls
Take your growth to the next level with this series of podcast episodes on leadership and culture from The Dealer Playbook Podcast.
Communication is Key
Communication is one of the most important aspects of any business, and something that good leaders must learn to do effectively. You should communicate clearly and conscientiously with your employees, your customers, and your vendors.
This relates to everything from delivering performance reviews, feedback, and training with your employees to communicating well with your customers during each phase of their buying journey. Communication is a skill that can be learned, so if it doesn’t come naturally to you, consider seeking your own training on how to bolster your communication skills for effectiveness.
Adaptability is Your Ace in the Pocket
In order to run a successful business, you must be able to adapt to changing conditions. We’ve all experienced the dramatic effects of adaptability in the past few years, and there is no sign of things slowing down any time soon. Being flexible is a key component of good leadership, both for your business and the people you interact with day in and day out.
Adapting effectively includes using information and data available to you to make informed decisions, thinking critically, leaning on the experience of others, listening to input from your team, and traversing changes with grace and a positive attitude.
Good leaders look at change as an opportunity to grow, not something set out to destroy them. They ask, “How can I adapt to best serve the needs of my customers and team?” They see possibilities instead of disruptions.
Welcome to the Innovation Station
When you want a job done right, you must be willing to do what it takes to get there. Leaders find solutions, weigh risks, and often have to take bold steps to move the business forward. For instance, you may need to take a chance on new products even if they appear risky in order to benefit your business. A bit of fear is normal - think about what your business will need in 1, 5, or 10 years from now and lean into innovation.
Here at Flex, we like to say, “there’s no decision that can’t be unmade with another decision.”
Leaders are Dedicated to Their Business
Decide what your goals are, and make sure that you do everything you can to reach them. The dealership will be profitable if you take the necessary steps to make each goal happen. Your dedication to the business will inspire those around you, creating loyal customers and employees - who are, of course, the entire backbone of any dealership.
Sometimes, good leaders must go above and beyond in their dedication to their business. Whether that means taking calls on the weekend or acting more like a therapist for your employees than a “boss,” dedication will look many ways throughout your journey as a leader. Embrace them all and consider the ways you can equip yourself for handling the multitude of situations you’ll encounter, whether it’s through joining a supportive community of fellow dealers online or taking initiative with consistent training.
Conclusion: Good Leadership Means More Than Just Being a Good Boss
To lead a successful dealership, you will need to have the right mindset and set yourself (and your business) up for success by leaning into the tools and support systems available to you. The goal for any business should be to see new opportunities, take steps towards staying relevant, connecting with others in your business, and maintaining a clear vision and mission. Doing so will result in employees who are excited to come to work, customers who are happy to do business with you, vendors who will remain be satisfied, and a business that’s poised to thrive for the long run.
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