“Used Car” vs. “Manager”: Which Piece of the Title is Most Important?

July 15, 2014

A dealer asked me to stop by about a week ago and do some in-depth, one on one training with a brand-new used car manager. I consider this dealer a friend and a customer, and since the dealership was close to my home (and near the famed BBQ Trail in Central Texas for a late lunch), I was happy to oblige.

When I arrived for the meeting, I was a little surprised to find that when the dealer called him a brand-new used car manager, he meant brand-new to being a used car manager, not brand-new to the dealership! In addition to covering appraisals, pricing, stocking, and on-line merchandising in FirstLook, we covered topics like how to check for paintwork, repping cars at auction, and managing the service department for his used inventory in recon. It was like drinking from a fire hose, but the questions that I got and the insights he gave me were things that I hadn’t gotten in a while.

When I train “experienced” UCD’s, I get more procedural questions about the software, which makes sense because these folks have a process down and are just adapting to the software. When you have to step back and talk about the influence of market data and prior sales history in the pricing tool, or the relationship of acquisition cost vs. customer offer on a high-demand trade-in, or the effect of Time To Market on turn and gross, it emphasizes an entirely different part of the title “used car manager”.

I think more often than not, we in the dealerships are looking for the “used car” part of the title, and not enough of the “manager” part. I watched an interview with the CEO of Cinnabon not too long ago, and she felt like that during her hiring process, the part she can’t train or teach is the cultural fit for an organization and that is the key to having great people. This particular dealer recognized that organizational fit and a history of looking out for the dealer’s best interests were far more important than knowing what clean book on a 2012 Ford Focus is.

And the BBQ brisket at City Market in Luling, TX was fantastic, as always.