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Inspiring Your Dealership Through Accountability & Transparency

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a client’s yearly kickoff breakfast. Receiving the invitation was an unexpected surprise, I live 2,000 miles and two time zones away, but I was honored to receive the invitation and quickly made the decision to travel across the country.

Making the occasion more special, this gathering marked the silver anniversary and the 25th year that the team was collected for a group breakfast. Attendees ranged from high ranking regional factory representatives and senior dealership management, all the way down to support staff and even local business partners. This was an inclusive event with a subject matter that was intended for all.

Attendees were invited to look back on the previous year in celebration of their accomplishments and to reconcile their failures.  Most importantly, a clear agenda and tone for the upcoming year would be set as had been done in years past, and a plan for growth would be rolled out with clear expectations for each profit center.

Every place setting was adorned with reminders of company philosophies in the form of two business cards.  The first listed the company goals (see below) and the second touched on the company’s philosophy and mission statement.

The emcees for the day were the President and Vice President for the auto group. While listening to each speaker I was struck by the way failure was owned exclusively by management. No bucks were passed, excuses uttered or scapegoats identified, and even though areas of improvement were being documented, each speaker maintained a positive tone about what was needed for success and how the company would achieve it. When highlighting and featuring success, the speakers were quick and assertive in their praise for the team members whose efforts drove results in a public demonstration of the efforts that drove results.

The breakfast, offsite and at a local conference center, was closed with a speech by a local juvenile court judge.  His words of inspiration reflected on the importance of attitude in overcoming objects. Awards were also given to exemplary staff members, including the Employee of the Year award, which went to the young man with a positive attitude who details vehicles before they’re delivered. When his name was announced, the house came down. Tenure milestones were also celebrated.

I call attention to this experience because it exemplifies an important aspect of dealership culture that many fail to reinforce.  Now, more than ever, it’s critical to have your team on the same page. Do not take it for granted that everyone knows your strengths and weaknesses, or the goals of your dealership. Do not be afraid to speak of the areas in which your business needs to grow to be more profitable. Be sure you’re publicly highlighting and recognizing excellence and tenure within your organization as both motivation and a reminder to onlookers that hard work pays off. And ensure that your entire team is on the same page philosophically, respecting and reinforcing your company mission statement and business objectives.

As one of the cards that sat in front of each attendee read:

  1.     We will provide world-class employee satisfaction.

  2.     We will provide a world-class guest experience.

  3.     We will set the industry standard in owner retention and market share.

  4.     We will be a leader in fulfilling our social and environmental responsibilities.

Your team is easily your most important dealership asset. Cars can’t and won’t sell themselves, nor can they fix themselves when trouble arises. It’s your team that represents your brand in every customer engagement, interaction and experience and it’s critical that they uphold your values. When they don’t your dealership runs a greater risk of running into reputation issues.

With such accountability and transparency in performance, goals and expectations, it’s no surprise that this dealership’s business is headed in the right way.

Hopefully yours is strong, too.

If you feel you’re not hitting the mark in this area, we’re happy to help in anyway we can. Feel free to email me at or give me a call at 1-800-222-2682. I would be happy to share more about this experience and this dealer group, as well as what a healthy culture and atmosphere can do to your bottom line.

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