“Help, I need a manager!” This is a conversation we have consistently with dealers. Finding someone to come along side you to help run and manage your dealership is a big deal. It’s not a step that should be taken lightly. The right person for this position has to be a someone that not only you trust and get along with, but that your people will respect as well. One of the most common mistakes we see are dealerships who get to the point of needing a service manager, which typically happen when you have three technicians who are 85% efficient, and they decide to take their best technician and “promote” them to the service manager role. The majority of the time, this is a huge mistake. So, where do you find a service manager?

One place to start looking for a service manager is at your local auto dealership. Now, I’m not suggestion you go and steal their employees, but I am saying that there is a lot to letting their employees know that you have opportunities, if they “or anyone they know” are looking for a change. Often, we see assistant service managers in the auto industry become great service managers in the OPE, AG, Powersports, and Trailer industries. They have been received extensive training, and typically have little hope of moving up to the service manager position at the dealership. It is a little easier to “hire low and grow” a parts manager. Your typical counter parts sales person can be trained to take on the responsibility of a parts manager, and they are typically good with customers, so the people aspect of it won’t be a huge shift for them. I was talking with a dealer recently, and he hired a parts manager who had been a general manager at the local Dollar General. This person was not only a manager and coach for his people, but was also responsible for inventory, product placement, and ordering.

If you are at the place of wanting to bring a general manager into your business, spending time and energy to find the right person is vitally important. In a way, someone who is a general manager becomes your partner in the business. So, where do you look for a GM?

First, look inside your dealership. Do you have a manager on your team that your employees like and trust and already understands the business? This is a great first place to start. In most cases, it will be easier to replace a departmental manager than to find a GM.  Another place to look is any retail location that is going through a transition. Recently, there was a big box store that shut down over 100 of their locations and each location had over 150 people. I can guarantee you that every location had a General Manager who was in need of a new job.

Always been on the lookout for the right people for your business. Keep your radar up, even when you don’t think you need someone. It’s important to keep a list of potential managers you would love to have on your team, so when the need arises you have a place to start.

Sara Hey

About Sara Hey

Sara Hey is the Vice President of Operations and Development for Bob Clements International. She has spoken at conferences across the country educating dealers on the internal aspects of their business. She graduated from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, and has been a contributing writer for BCI for 3 years.