Breaking Down the Barriers
Why can’t we all just get along? Better yet, why can’t we all work together to provide a superior service? Too often dealership departments are run like silos, completely independent of one another. Sometimes there is open antagonism between managers and staff. If this is the case in your dealership, it should become a high priority to address the issues that keep a good store from being great.
The first thing to do in a situation like this is to make your concern very clear to everyone involved. Without pointing fingers or stoking old rivalries, you need to lay out your expectations and set parameters for how they will be met. Next, open the lines of communication and keep them open with regular meetings and follow-up. Your whole staff should be encouraged to air their grievances (remember the “complaint box”?); managers need to understand that their counterparts have stressful situations that rival their own. A great way to hammer this home is by putting a manager in charge of a different department for the day. When was the last time a Sales Manager had to deal with impatient Service customers? Would they even know where the Parts counter is?
Another important thing to communicate to your staff is the benefits of working together. Would anyone really disagree with the importance of a Sales to Service Handoff? Does the Used Vehicle Manager honestly believe that they should enjoy discounts that would be unavailable anywhere else in the market? When one department prospers, other departments prosper. And everyone from your management team to the lot boy needs to buy into that.
As a final note, it is a good idea to analyze your pay plans to make sure you are not incentivizing bad behavior. In a perfect world, everyone could be paid on the success of the dealership as a whole in order to promote big picture thinking. Since I have never actually seen that strategy employed, you may want to at least set some targets for cross-department success that will help pad pockets. Your pay plan is your job description, after all….