DMS Central | Your Dealership Management System Resource | Auto/Mate
27Oct/140

Auto/Mate Announces the Successful Completion of First Annual User Summit for Auto Dealers

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBANY, N.Y. – October 27th, 2014 –Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com) announced the successful completion of its first annual User Summit for auto dealers. Dealers and managers from around the country attended the summit on September 19th in Albany, NY. The User Summit was designed for Auto/Mate's dealer clients to learn the newest features of Auto/Mate's dealership management system (DMS), as well as best practices for implementing new technologies into dealership processes. Additionally, attendees enjoyed networking with peers and fellow Auto/Mate users.

 

"It was really nice to have so many of our customers in one place and to get their feedback and input on various aspects of our software," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate Dealership Systems. "The Town Hall meeting that we hosted was very informative and we came away with a greater understanding of our clients' needs than we could get in any other way."

 

The two most popular sessions were the 'New Feature Announcements' which gave an overview of the new desking, dispatch, Open/Mate integrations, data security features and more; and the 'Rockin 101' features overview

 

"I was very happy to see the new improvements with accounting and payroll...I found the whole seminar to be very informative and I was excited to hear about the new improvements. I am glad I went and appreciate all the hard work everyone put into it," said Melissa LeVasseur, Controller with Don Reid Ford in Maitland, FL.

 

"It was worth the trip from Ashland, Ohio! It's obvious that Auto/Mate is working for their dealers...and their dealers' workflow and efficiency in mind. It was nice to hear what's coming in the near future and to talk with other dealers about their use of Auto/Mate, and to talk directly with Auto/Mate staff. Finally I can put faces to the voices I've talked with on the phone. Thanks for this opportunity," said Mark Everly, Controller with the Donley Auto Group in Ashland, OH.

 

Sponsors of Auto/Mate's User Summit included 700 Credit, DealerSocket, Total Customer Connect, MOC1, OneView, Great America, Inland Associates, TimeHighway, Route One, ELeadOne, DealerBaby and Business Partners Forms & Systems.

 

For more information on attending or sponsoring the User Summit in 2015, contact Jessica Joralemon, Manager of Events & Marketing Communications, with Auto/Mate at 518-371–4331.

 

About Auto/Mate

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships. Its Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,000 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the “Highest Rated DMS of 2012" and the "Highest Rated DMS of 2013" awards in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

Auto/Mate’s employees have more than 850 years of combined experience working in auto dealerships – the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. For more information visit our website, follow us on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to our blog at http://blog.automate.com

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20Oct/140

Auto/Mate Integrates DMS with etfile Document Management System, Streamlining Auto Dealer Workflow

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ALBANY, N.Y. – October 20th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com) announced today the integration of its dealership management system (DMS) with etfile's electronic document management solution. Auto dealerships using the etfile document imaging, filing & retrieval system can now receive deals from F&I and Repair Orders (RO's) from service, via real-time delivery from Auto/Mate's DMS. The integration also allows dealers to identify all documents that were not scanned on a given day.

 

"Auto dealers can create hundreds of documents on a daily basis, and if they're using an electronic filing system the ability to retrieve documents out of their DMS in a timely manner is critical to increasing efficiencies," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate Dealership Systems.

 

"Partnering with Auto/Mate will allow hundreds of dealerships to take advantage of the benefits associated with our document management system, which include saving thousands of dollars per month in productivity as well as greater accuracy than a human filing papers in drawers," said Mark Linton, President of etfile.

 

etfile's Enterprise Content Management solutions provide auto dealers with a competitive advantage around customer service and efficient dealership management. Using automated workflows of document scanning and electronic retrieval to create a “paperless” environment helps to streamline the management of parts and repair orders, invoices, and sales paperwork. It also enables dealership employees to instantly retrieve information so they can answer inquiries from partners and customers.

 

Auto/Mate's dealership management system, Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS), is a comprehensive solution offering robust functionality for any size dealership or auto group, advanced reporting capabilities, along with the best customer service in the industry. For more information visit www.automate.com.

 

About etfile

etfile is a leading provider of custom integrated, electronic document imaging, filing and retrieval systems offering superior price and performance and comprehensive service and support. Our product portfolio features both client/server and cloud-based content management and automated workflow management software solutions designed to easily scale to the needs of enterprises of all sizes and small-to-medium businesses in all industries. For more information visit www.etfile.com

 

About Auto/Mate

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships, typically saving dealers thousands of dollars per month from their current provider. Our Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,100 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the "Highest Rated DMS for Customer Satisfaction” in 2012 and 2013 in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

This is a testament to the more than 900 years of Auto/Mate employees' combined experience working in franchised auto dealerships, the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. Auto/Mate is committed to winning their customers' business each and every month, which is why they require no long-term contracts, free software upgrades for life and free training for life. For more information visit www.automate.com, follow them on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to their blog at http://blog.automate.com.

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13Oct/140

Auto/Mate Announces Final Integration of Dealership Management System with Nissan’s DCS

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ALBANY, N.Y. – October 13th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (www.automate.com) announced today the final integration of its dealership management system (DMS) with Nissan's dealer communications system (DCS). The completed integration means that 100 percent of Nissan dealers using Auto/Mate's DMS are now able to communicate seamlessly with their manufacturer in parts, service, sales and accounting.

"We are pleased to be one of the DMS vendors approved by Nissan," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate. "Nissan dealers can benefit from having more DMS vendors to choose from, as well as the ability to choose virtually any third-party vendor using open standards for integration. More choices lead to more competition and overall lower costs for dealers."

 

Nissan's DCS is the electronic pipeline through which the factory and dealers exchange data on sales, inventory, service, parts, warranty claims and other sales and operating functions. Key integration points enable exchange of the following information:

 

Fixed Ops

• Parts inventory/shipper/order/return/master information

• Repair Order data

• Warranty Labor Time Guide

• Special service vehicle campaign

• Customer updates

• Service Appointments to Nissan

• National service history vehicle and customer search to and from Nissan

 

F&I Sales

• Vehicle inventory adjustment: inbound/outbound

• Retail delivery report

• Credit contracts

• Customer updates

 

Accounting

• Financial statements

• Warranty payments

• Customer Updates

 

Auto/Mate's DMS is user friendly, comprehensive dealership management system with more than 20 integrated modules to help dealers manage their business. It supports an unlimited number of users, workstations and printers, and can be implemented in any size dealership or auto group. For more information visit Auto/Mate's solutions page.

 

About Auto/Mate

 

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships. Its Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,000 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the “Highest Rated DMS of 2012" and the "Highest Rated DMS of 2013" awards in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

Auto/Mate’s employees have more than 850 years of combined experience working in auto dealerships – the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. For more information visit our website, follow us on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to our blog at http://blog.automate.com

 

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6Oct/140

Auto/Mate Becomes First DMS Vendor to Replace Infinitinet and Integrate with Infiniti’s New DCS

ALBANY, N.Y. – October 6, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (www.automate.com) announced today that it has become the first dealership management system (DMS) vendor to successfully install a new Infinitinet system, which replaces the legacy Infinitinet AS400 DMS and provides integration to Infiniti’s new Dealer Communications System (DCS). Infiniti dealers using Auto/Mate's DMS now enjoy a seamless communication path with their manufacturer and unparalleled flexibility to adopt third party applications.

 

Infiniti dealers have relied exclusively on the legacy Infinitinet for their DMS and DCS requirements since 1989. Auto/Mate has blazed the trail to complete development, testing, and installation of the new Infinitinet, which will enable sunset of the legacy Infinitinet architecture.

 

"We have been working closely with Infiniti to ensure that the migration to the new Infinitinet utilizing the Auto/Mate DMS proceeds smoothly, and additionally that the rollout of their new DCS goes flawlessly," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate. "We are excited to be leading the effort to enable Infiniti dealers to migrate to the new Infinitinet and believe that the Auto/Mate DMS in combination with Infiniti’s new DCS provides the benchmark for reliability and functionality at a compelling price point."

 

Gregory Infiniti in Libertyville, IL was the first dealership to benefit from the integration of Auto/Mate's DMS with Infiniti's new DCS. "Transitioning all our data from our old DMS to a new DMS was a daunting task, but Auto/Mate helped make the process manageable and overall it went more smoothly than I expected it would be," said Greg Mauro, President of Gregory Infiniti.

 

 

Infiniti's new DCS is the electronic pipeline through which the factory and dealers exchange data on sales, inventory, service, parts, warranty claims and other operating functions. Key integration points enable exchange of the following information:

 

Fixed Ops

• Parts inventory/shipper/order/return/master information

• Repair Order data

• Warranty Labor Time Guide

• Special service vehicle campaign

• Customer updates

• Service Appointments to Infiniti

• National service history vehicle and customer search to and from Infiniti

• Parts Activity

• ASR Parts Orders

• Parts ASR Stocking Guide

• ASR Parts Return

 

F&I Sales

• Vehicle inventory adjustment: inbound/outbound

• Retail delivery report

• Credit contracts

• Customer updates

 

Accounting

• Financial statements

• Warranty payments

• Customer Updates

 

 

Auto/Mate's DMS is a user friendly, comprehensive dealership management system with more than 20 integrated modules to help dealers manage their business. It supports an unlimited number of users, workstations and printers, and can be implemented in any size dealership or auto group. For more information visit Auto/Mate's solutions page.

 

 

About Auto/Mate

 

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships. Auto/Mate's Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,100 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the "Highest Rated DMS for Customer Satisfaction” in 2012 and 2013 in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

Auto/Mate's employees have more than 900 years combined experience working in franchised auto dealerships, the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. Auto/Mate is committed to winning their customers' business each and every month, which is why they require no long-term contracts and provide free software upgrades and training for life. For more information visit www.automate.com, follow them on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to their blog at http://blog.automate.com.

 

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2Oct/140

Mike Esposito Accepts the Auto Dealer Monthly 2014 Dealers’ Choice Awards

 Mike Esposito Accepts the Auto Dealer Monthly 2014 Dealers Choice Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know Auto/Mate received the Platinum Award in the 2014 Auto Dealer Monthly Dealers' Choice Awards? Here Mike Esposito displays the award in front of Auto/Mate's headquarters.

"This award is meaningful to us because the votes come from our customers," said Esposito. "Our goal has always been to be the top DMS provider in customer satisfaction, and this award confirms we are achieving that on a consistent basis."

 

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29Sep/140

Auto/Mate Integrates DMS with MaximTrak F&I Suite, Boosting Auto Dealer F&I Performance and Profits

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ALBANY, N.Y. – September 29th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com) announced today the integration of its dealership management system (DMS) with MaximTrak Technologies' F&I Suite. Auto dealers using both systems may now benefit from a real-time, bi-directional exchange of information that speeds up the F&I process, keeps transaction data and contact information accurate, improves customer satisfaction and increases profits.

 

"Our Open/Mate certification is easy, inexpensive and fast for third-party vendors, lowering costs and expanding vendor choices for dealers," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate Dealership Systems.

 

"Our focus is on creating a better buying experience for the customers, which is accomplished by the professionalism and speed of our F&I menu and reporting solutions," said Jim Maxim, Jr., President of MaximTrak Technologies. "Having our product suite integrated with a dealer's DMS eliminates redundancies and errors caused by incomplete transfer of information."

 

MaximTrak's F&I Menu Platform enables F&I managers to quickly create custom menu presentations, navigate between screens with ease, and present multiple deal scenarios with a flexible interface. Plus, MaximTrak allows data to be saved as a presentation progresses, eliminating the need to re-type information, and allows for a branded presentation with custom graphics and color design.

 

Auto/Mate's dealership management system is a user-friendly, flexible solution with more than 20 modules to serve every departmental need. Auto/Mate received the "Highest Rated" DMS award in the 2012 and 2013 Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards, and is known for offering the best customer support in the industry.

 

Both Auto/Mate and MaximTrak are integrated with credit bureaus and offer advanced, easy-to-use reporting capabilities.

 

For more information, visit Auto/Mate at www.automate.com or MaximTrak at www.maximtrak.com.

 

About MaximTrak

 

MaximTrak Technologies, Inc. is the automotive, motorcycle, boat, RV, and power sports industry's premier F&I Menu and Reporting Systems provider. MaximTrak is the F&I industry’s number one, full-scale e-menu, e-contracting and reporting suite for more than 30 years and services some of the most prominent dealerships and dealership groups. The MaximTrak platform is designed to transform the vehicle delivery process into a customer friendly program that converts conventional F&I wisdom into consistent, repeatable and sustainable results. For more information, call 1.800.282.6308 or visit www.maximtrak.com

 

About Auto/Mate

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships, typically saving dealers thousands of dollars per month from their current provider. Our Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,100 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the "Highest Rated DMS for Customer Satisfaction” in 2012 and 2013 in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

 

This is a testament to the more than 900 years of Auto/Mate employees' combined experience working in franchised auto dealerships, the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. Auto/Mate is committed to winning their customers' business each and every month, which is why they require no long-term contracts, free software upgrades for life and free training for life. For more information visit www.automate.com, follow them on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to their blog at http://blog.automate.com.

 

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23Sep/140

Do Your Vendors Deserve Your Loyalty?

Does a Vendor Deserve Your Loyalty?

by Mike Esposito, President & CEO, Auto/Mate Dealership Systems

 

I'd like to have a heart-to-heart with dealers and high-level managers at dealerships, because I am genuinely curious about something. You are all focused on customer loyalty these days, as you should be. It takes genuine effort to earn--and keep--a customer's loyalty. You implement best practices, train your employees, try to keep your employees happy and motivated so they'll provide great customer service, and you demand honesty and accountability when a customer is unhappy.

 

So why then, do you not demand the same amount of effort from your vendors to earn and keep your loyalty?

 

It seems to me that I hear dealers grumble about various vendors, products and services on a regular basis. Perhaps the product or service isn't right for them, or they're paying too much, or they have to sign a long-term contract they don't want to sign, or the vendor doesn't provide the level of customer service they want, or worst of all, they find out their vendor isn't being honest with them!

 

So why do you Mr. Dealer, when you have the ability to switch vendors, remain loyal to the vendor you have been complaining about? If a car shopper isn't happy with the experience of buying a car or getting their car serviced at your dealership, they will go somewhere else next time. And, if you, Mr. Dealer, aren't happy with value you are receiving from a specific vendor, then you should move to a different vendor. Your vendors should be working to earn your loyalty with every single transaction, every day.

 

I know what you're thinking. I've heard the objections before, but they really don't hold water:

 

Objection #1: I've been with (my current vendor) for so long, I owe them my loyalty.

 

Really? Since when does the amount of time you've been with a company have anything to do with how much loyalty you owe them? I've had a free personal checking account with the same bank for 20 years, but I assure you if they start charging me a $10 monthly checking fee, I'll leave and open a new account somewhere else in a heartbeat. Vendors should be trying to earn and keep your loyalty every day with every single transaction. Time has nothing to do with loyalty.

 

 

Objection #2:  The process of vendor selection, implementing and learning a new technology or system is hard and time-consuming.

Yes, it is. If you recall, nobody wanted to move from typewriters to computers either, but they learned and eventually realized they couldn't get along without them. Every once in a while, leaving your comfort zone is required in order to achieve better results for your company. Learning anything new requires time and effort, but if and when you do finally find a great vendor with a product or service that meets your needs, along with great customer service, you will be thrilled. The effort is worth the reward.

 

Objection #3: My employees don't want to change.

Employees need to be involved in the change process as soon as possible. They aren’t so much against change as they are against being changed. Talk to your employees about the change and see what their objections might be.  You will also need to ask employees for commitment. Once the change has been announced, it is important that you personally ask for each employee’s commitment to successfully implement the change. Once you are involved in the change you need to be committed and remain firm. It is of utmost importance that you see the change through to completion. Stopping it halfway through the process accomplishes two negative impacts. First, it destroys your credibility. Second, it tells every employee that if they take the stance of a dinosaur, this change, and possible all other changes you want to make, will pass by.

 

If you care about earning your own customers' loyalty, shouldn't you care about whether your vendors are trying to earn your loyalty? What are the attributes a vendor should have in order to earn your loyalty? Here are a few of my thoughts and recommendations:

 

1) Honesty. Do you have to review a vendor’s bill every month only to find that there is a mistake (and always in their favor)? Or when asking your vendor to resolve an issue or help you with a problem do they constantly refer to the contract you signed with them? A company should be honest and straight forward with you. You deserve it. You are the customer.

 

2) Great customer service. Your customers expect it, and YOU expect it in all other facets of your life. If you're paying good money for something, you expect the vendor will rapidly respond to your questions, concerns, complaints and suggestions. Perhaps it's because so many large tech companies don't even bother to give ANY customer service (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) that some companies seem to think it's not as important as it used to be. Yet, I guarantee the companies who do provide great customer service have higher customer retention rates.

 

3) Showing gratitude for the business you're giving them and not trying to sell you more stuff that you don't need. You know that if you start selling your customers service repairs they don't need, they will not remain loyal customers for long. It's one thing if you could really use or benefit from a product or service. But if the vendors goal is to just gain a larger share of your wallet the I would say for you to RUN the other way!

 

Dealers, what are you thoughts on customer loyalty and vendor loyalty? I'd really like to hear why you are loyal to your vendors and what you think vendors should do to earn your loyalty.

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16Sep/140

Create Customer Loyalty by Building Employee Loyalty

Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate, talks about the importance of building employee loyalty as a precursor to building customer loyalty. Includes thoughts on re-thinking pay plans to motivate employees.

 

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9Sep/140

Dealerbaby Announces Integration of Mobile App Platform with Auto/Mate Dealership Management System (DMS)

Latest News

Integration Improves Shopping & Service Experience for Auto Dealer Customers 

Saratoga Springs, NY: Dealerbaby, a custom mobile app platform for auto dealerships, is proud to announce its integration with Auto/Mate’s Open/Mate third-party integration system. Users of Auto/Mate can now experience the benefits of a native mobile app without the high costs associated with custom mobile app development. With Dealerbaby, auto dealerships can increase customer retention, profits and leads, and become a leader of the mobile dealership community.

“Our partnership with Auto/Mate gives us the ability to create a powerful user experience by letting the customer interact with the dealership on the device they use the most—their smartphone,” said Padraic Doyle, Co-Founder of Dealerbaby. “The key is the two-way communication with the DMS, which is made possible with Open/Mate.”

"More car shoppers are using smartphones and tablets to shop for cars, and mobile apps are easier to use than browsing a mobile website," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate. "DMS integration ensures that all inventory and service data is displayed to customers in real time, reflecting all updates in your dealer's DMS."

To help improve the mobile experience for auto dealerships and their customers, Dealerbaby integrated the following features in its platform with Auto/Mate's DMS:

• Service Appointment Scheduling: Dealership apps on the Dealerbaby platform display service schedules, available service appointments, and offer users the ability to schedule various services all within the dealership’s mobile app.

• Inventory Listings: The Dealerbaby mobile app platform displays inventory updates in real-time as the inventory is updated in Auto/Mate's DMS.

Auto/Mate's DMS is a full-featured, user-friendly solution that is scalable for any size dealership or dealer group. The system comes with the best customer support in the industry and is available in both web-based and in-house server solutions.

 

About Dealerbaby

Dealerbaby, produced by My Thank You Notes LLC, is a custom mobile app platform for auto dealerships based in Saratoga Springs, NY. Founded in 2014, Dealerbaby is dedicated to helping auto dealerships leverage their inventory and service offerings through mobile technology. To learn more, visit www.dealerbaby.com, follow them on Twitter @Dealerbaby, or email sales@dealerbaby.com

 Dealerbaby Announces Integration of Mobile App Platform with Auto/Mate Dealership Management System (DMS)

About Auto/Mate

Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships, typically saving dealers thousands of dollars per month from their current provider. Our Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,100 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate received the "Highest Rated DMS for Customer Satisfaction” in 2012 and 2013 in the annual Driving Sales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.

!This is a testament to the more than 900 years of Auto/Mate employees' combined experience working in franchised auto dealerships, the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car PeopleTM” slogan. Auto/Mate is committed to winning their customers' business each and every month, which is why they require no long-term contracts, free software upgrades for life and free training for life. For more information visit www.automate.com, follow them on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to their blog at http://blog.automate.com.

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3Sep/140

Are You a Leader or Manager?

Mike Esposito

By Mike Esposito, President and CEO, Auto/Mate Dealership Systems

 

Good leaders are great at setting priorities, directing resources, keeping strategies on track, overseeing process accountability and operations. These are all important and necessary skills, but sometimes, the very qualities that make a good leader can naturally create a "top down" leadership style that negatively impacts employee morale, customer service and profits.

 

When I was a general manager at a large, multi-line dealership, I was taught the following maxim: It's not what you expect, it's what you inspect. What that implies is that the dealer tells managers what has to be done, then inspects to make sure that what he wanted actually got done. Since then, I have studied leadership and management principles extensively, and I have learned that good leaders don't have to inspect what they expect. They create a vision and mission. They communicate these to all levels of management. They understand that they need to empower their people.  If you find yourself inspecting everything that you expect, chances are you are a manager, not a leader.

 

Do you think you are a good leader? Take this little quiz:

 

1) When you leave your dealership for a week, are you anxious because you think everything will fall apart when you're not there?  Good leaders don't worry about leaving because they know that everything that's supposed to get done will get done.

 

2) Do you inspire employees to give great results, or do you demand great results from them? Good leaders genuinely care about their employees and focus on making them happy. In return, the employees knock themselves out to make sure their leader is happy.

 

3) Have you earned the respect of your employees or do you feel like you have to insist upon it because of your position? Good leaders never have to pull rank. Even if their employees disagree with a decision, they will always treat their leader with respect.

 

4) Do you feel like the majority of your employees are disengaged, have attitude problems and/or are unhappy, and that it's their fault for being that way? If you find yourself saying, "It's hard to find good employees" more often than not, try looking in the mirror and ask: "How can I be a better leader?"

 

 

 

How The Typical Dealership Is Run

 

The first step to becoming a better leader is to rethink how your dealership is run. This needs to be a powerful paradigm shift for you the dealer. When we think of a management structure, we naturally think of putting the dealership principal(s) and/or general managers at the top, with one or two layers of managers underneath and the majority of employees at the bottom. Decisions are made at the top and delegated downwards with employees at each level implementing orders and providing accountability to the managers above them.

 

The problem with this structure is that when pressured from above, it's too easy for managers to shift the blame to employees in the level below them. Another reason why this structure doesn't work is that employees typically feel disengaged from the decision-making process

 

How Dealerships Should Be Run

 

Employee satisfaction is the primary focus for all good leaders. If your employees don’t love your company your customers won’t love your company.  During the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009, the CEOs of Southwest Airlines and Costco made the decision not to lay off any employees as a cost-cutting measure. Those decisions showed their employees that they cared; and today these two companies have very high levels of employee loyalty (not to mention customer loyalty and profitability, but that's another article).

 

The point is, managers should not think that the front-line employees work for them. Rather, managers should have the attitude that they work for their employees. Moving down a level, the managers do not work for the dealer. Instead, the dealer should have the attitude that he or she works for the managers. What do your managers and employees need to make their jobs easier? Good leaders make it their job to find out and then deliver it to them.

 

 

Inform, Empower and Reward Employees

 

The second step to becoming a better leader involves creating an environment where employees really enjoy coming to work every day. That doesn't mean you have to install an espresso machine so all of your employees can have free lattes. Employee satisfaction is not achieved through lattes or monetary rewards. Employees want to be informed, empowered and rewarded.

 

Inform. Where do you see your dealership in five years? What's your vision? How can your employees help you get there?  What's your company mission statement? What are your company values? Great leaders know the answers to these questions and they also make sure every employee knows too. Employees want to feel like they're part of something, that what they're doing matters and that they are all working towards a common goal.

 

Empower. Everyone thinks that great leaders have a lot of power, but becoming a great leader actually requires giving up power. Once your employees know what goals they are all working towards, empower them to make decisions that are in alignment with those goals. I promise you, they won't give away the store and they will be much happier.

 

Reward. Many dealers still use the old "carrot and stick" approach when it comes to rewarding employees, i.e. 'if you reach this goal, I will give you that.' Research has proven that the old carrot and stick approach is not an effective motivator or reward system. Rewards should be given based on behavior that aligns with the company values. Rewards don't have to be monetary; employees also appreciate verbal and public recognition of a job well done. Rewards should also be individualized; if there's someone who works 60 hours a week, chances are they'd appreciate two days off a lot more than they would a $200 spiff.

 

Becoming a better leader requires focusing on employee satisfaction and creating a great workplace. This may require a paradigm change in your leadership style, and it may take some time and effort, but in the end it will be worth it. If you inform, empower, reward and genuinely care about your employees, I can assure you they will walk through a wall for you.

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