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Help! I Need a Great Manager!

Man in group
Article Highlights:

  • The hiring process is ineffective in many dealerships.
  • Slow down and hire the right person for the job.

My articles the last two months have addressed some of the decision making issues dealerships face in the advertising and vehicle inventory areas.

This month, I want to speak to an area that’s even more difficult: selecting and hiring managers.

Like with advertising and inventory, too often I see hiring and promotion decisions made based on attitudes and feelings that aren’t grounded in fact.

From my experience in the industry, I believe that many of the problems dealerships face ultimately come down to an ineffective process with the way managers are selected and trained.

To help you avoid this problem, here are a few best practices to keep in mind the next time you have a management position to fill:

1. Individual Results Do Not Guarantee Leadership Potential

Too often in a dealership, people are promoted to management simply because they were standout sales reps. I understand and expect that you want to reward your top performers.

But you also need to be careful. The fact that someone knows how to close deals does not mean he (or she) will be good at leading people or making difficult business decisions.

The right way to evaluate potential managers is to start with a job description and a list of skills you need from the person in the position. Those are the criteria to use when considering someone for a promotion, not their sales results.

2. Set Clear Expectations

Once you make your decision, have a documented list of what you expect of the new manager. Make sure that list is clearly communicated.

If you defined the job well and created a skills checklist during the hiring process, this is a straightforward task. The same checklist can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the manager over the first weeks and months of the job.

3. Assign a Mentor

My experience has been that a lot of people talk about mentorship, but very few actually do anything about it. That’s a shame, because it can be the difference between success and failure of your newly hired manager.

Mentors don’t have to be assigned for life. My recommendation is that, if possible, you have one effective senior manager as your designated mentor for new managers in his area. Pair these two for six months minimum.

That way the new manager can observe good management techniques, see first-hand how to lead and motivate employees, and have somewhere to turn when problems arise, but neither is tied to the other for life.

4. Give Feedback Early and Often

Give feedback, both formally and informally, as much as you can with new managers. And after the initial training period is over, set up a plan for regular job reviews.

This will help the new manager understand your expectations and give him (or her) a chance to correct issues before they become habits. It also gives you the information you need to make a change, if the person isn’t working out.


Hiring unqualified candidates can end up costing more money than the employee may ever generate in their position.

My advice: slow down and hire the right person for the job, no matter how difficult it is to be short-handed for a while. Once you make your choice, keep the lines of communication wide open.

If you’re successful, before you know it you’ll be assigning that person to be a mentor to the next new manager, and your dealership will be all the stronger for it.

To learn more about Reynolds Consulting Services, please click here.

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Scott had 12 years of automotive retail experience as a Finance Manager, General Manager, Sales Manager, and sales associate. He joined Reynolds Consulting Services in 2012 and was qualified to consult on CRM processes and Retail Sales Operations.

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