No Flying Burritos in This Car Dealership Department

“If you treat people like dirt in a sales meeting, and then tell them to go out and sell cars, how does that work?” asks dealership manager Josh Mitchell.

Steve Finlay, Senior Editor

December 5, 2016

3 Min Read
ldquoI hate firing peoplehellipbut sometimes they fire themselvesrdquo Mitchell says
“I hate firing people…but sometimes they fire themselves,” Mitchell says.

LAS VEGAS – Ill-tempered behavior, however brief, can leave a lasting impression in the workplace, notes Josh Mitchell, a car dealership manager who tries to keep his cool.

“I wouldn’t want to be known as the manager who threw a burrito across the room,” he says, citing someone else’s outburst. “I don’t yell at the staff. I don’t break people down.”

Mitchell, built like a football tackle, oversees the business-development center at Dan Cummins Chevrolet in Paris, KY. His staff of 11 fields Internet leads and works the phones, taking about 3,500 inbound calls a month.

Such a BDC operation allows a dealership such as his to extend its market reach. “We’re in a city of 10,000 people. The nearest city is Lexington, KY. But if you do things right, your ZIP code and the size of your town has nothing to do with what you can accomplish.”

Glenn Lundy, the dealership’s general sales manager, set a goal of selling 10,000 vehicles this year. “We’re on target to do that,” Mitchell says. He adds: “It probably will be 12,000 next year.”

Mitchell offers management tips during a presentation entitled “Quit Managing Like It’s 1995” at the annual Driving Sales Executive Summit here. Bad bosses can leave a mess, while “leaders leave a legacy,” he says.    

He doesn’t ask his staffers to do what he hasn’t done or wouldn’t do. “I can still pick up the phone, field an Internet lead and go on chat with a customer,” he says. “My team knows that.”

For a good reason, his office is right next to their work stations. “If you are situated elsewhere, you are away from knowing what’s going on and what they are struggling with.”

Mitchell scratches his head at surly supervision. “If you treat people like dirt in a sales meeting, and then tell them to go out and sell cars, how does that work? It doesn’t make sense to treat people badly.”

His staff is a mix of men, women, Millennials and 40-somethings. “It’s a lively group. They want a coach, not a boss. People will leave if you act like a boss.” Go-getters also will go “if you don’t set a career path for them.”

Junior employees with less experience earn $425 a week, plus $10 per prospect who shows up for a dealership appointment and $25 more if a vehicle is sold.

Senior employees earn $500 a week and $65 if an appointment is made, the person keeps it and ultimately buys a vehicle. Team bonuses are divided among staffers. 

Dan Cummins Chevy employs 42 car salespeople. “They know the BDC is the heartbeat of the dealership,” Lundy says. 

Mitchell acknowledges he’s not immune from occasionally losing his temper if a staffer really goofs up. “Have the heart to apologize if you lose your cool. Explain what needs to be done, why an issue was an issue and then coach them out of it.”

Nor is he unwilling to terminate people. “If you set the right expectations and they don’t meet those and they’re causing problems, then fire them. I hate firing people because I’m emotionally invested in them. But sometimes they fire themselves.”

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