Fired Up, but not Fried

Burnout is a common malady affecting retail automobile dealerships' personnel. The hours are laden with tension and confrontation whether it is in the service department where a hectic series of events greets the service manager and his advisers each morning, or in the showroom where salespeople joust with prospects day and night, There have been many theories on why it's tough to attract quality

Burnout is a common malady affecting retail automobile dealerships' personnel. The hours are laden with tension and confrontation whether it is in the service department where a hectic series of events greets the service manager and his advisers each morning, or in the showroom where salespeople joust with prospects day and night,

There have been many theories on why it's tough to attract quality people to this industry. Perhaps the working environment is one of the biggest obstacles.

Many dealers and managers mistakenly believe money is the most important consideration to a prospective employee. In fact, many dealers believe it's the only one!

A survey asked dealership employees and managers to list the most important job factors in order of importance. Managers overwhelmingly said money was most important to employees.

But employees cited working for a company that cared about their personal problems. Interestingly, managers listed that low on the list.

Older dealers and managers, who began their careers before the advent of the modernized work ethic, believe long hours are necessary to succeed in automotive retailing.

This thinking has led dealers to consider their best and most productive employees as those who put in the longest hours.

However statistics indicate that the most productive salespeople and managers balance their work and leisure time to maintain their physical and mental energy.

Because of the requirement that salespersons work on weekends, many sales consultants urge their dealer clients to balance this time by scheduling a full day off during the week in order to maintain a traditional five-day work week.

Adequate off time is only part of the solution to remedy burnout.

There is also the pressure of a job where managers often wear too many hats, This serves to create an air of tension and confusion. Managers are inundated with paperwork and maintaining customer and employee relations. At the same time they must sell and trade vehicles.

Many people thrive on this type of stress. They're capable of revitalizing themselves through the work process.

However, for the majority of retail automobile sales managers, undue tension can make them poor supervisors, problem solvers and decision makers.

A lack of structure in many dealership sales departments contributes to the problem. Salespeople come to work each day with no clear idea of what they are supposed to do except to stand guard on the showroom floor waiting for prospects.

Boredom and lack of direction are the two most common enemies of automobile salespeople. Many of them will waste more energy trying to appear busy than if they were actually working a management-sponsored plan of work (if there is one). Absent such management direction, an environment of intrigue and deception can set in, hurting staffers self-images and their productivity.

One of a dealer's most important responsibilities is to provide an organized and pleasant work environment.

There's no time for planning and meaningful work if managers spend their day “putting out fires.” They are unable to revitalize themselves with the exciting part of their job, the selling process, for they are debilitated by minutia.

Service departments are more structured. Unlike sales, there is a predictability about service work that allows managers and technicians to concentrate their energies and talents simply and directly. Management of time in the service department is important, yet simple.

In the sales department it is unpredictable, complex and, alas, not seriously addressed.

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