What is Job One for your dealership? Is it:

  1. Selling and supporting labor saving machines and technology
  2. Making money
  3. Creating and keeping a customer
  4. Managing and leading people

Yes, your dealership sells and supports machines and technology (#1). And you must make money — maybe not in some years but over time you must be profitable (#2).

Regarding #3, Peter Drucker, the guru of management consulting, says, “The purpose of business is to create customers,” i.e., nothing begins until something is sold. Marketing expert Shiv Sing expands this to say, “The purpose of business is to create customers who create customers.” So, testimonials and repeat customers are vital.

But, I propose that Job One for a farm equipment dealership is #4. If you don’t hire, coach, train, manage and lead people, then none of the other jobs can be done successfully. Plus, in our business finding and keeping good people is increasingly more difficult.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses released its latest survey about the problems facing small businesses. They asked companies to prioritize 75 different problems, which then cluster into 10 categories that are ranked below in order of importance (NFIB Research Foundation, “Small Business Problems and Priorities,” August 2016).

1. Taxes

2. Regulations

3. Employees

4. Costs

5. Information

6. Management

7. Finance

8. Competitors/Competition/Markets

9. Technology

10. Public Services/Responsibility

Within the Employee Cluster, the 13 different employee problems include locating qualified employees, finding and keeping skilled employees, training employees and employee turnover. This survey supports the importance of managing and leading people as Job One.

Here are 3 insights about Job One.

Insight 1. In school, we learn our lessons and then take the test. As adults, we take the tests, and then we learn our lessons.

Teaching and coaching people is a part of the job for most managers in any dealership. But there is a big difference in teaching kids in school and teaching adults at work. For an adult to learn something new, they often must “un-learn” something. So it is takes longer and is more difficult to teach adults.

Importantly, as adults, we have more experiences to draw upon and want to apply what we learn immediately to help us in our jobs. When you’re training and coaching, you’ll be more effective by encouraging your employees to discuss their experiences and then draw lessons from those experiences.

Insight 2. People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

Employee turnover can be a problem in certain companies. Most dealerships will lose a good employee they wish they could have kept.

Is employee turnover a company or a manager problem? Surveys of why people leave jobs reveal how a manager handles people is at the root of the problem, not working conditions, policies, pay, etc. Essentially, a good manager creates a sense of loyalty that overcomes other employment issues.

As a manager of managers, you must coach your managers to become better at managing people. You may have a service manager who is good with customers and handles the administrative aspects of their job but may not be good at managing technicians. This may explain why your technicians leave.

Insight 3. You should NOT treat everyone the same.

Sure there are moral and legal considerations about discriminating against certain people. That does not mean that you must literally treat everyone the same. Here are two examples:

High Potential Employees: For those employees who you think (or hope) will develop the ability to handle more responsibility, should you treat them the same as someone who has reached the limit of their potential, or someone who is not performing?

In order to give “High Potentials” the chance to learn — and for you to coach them to perform better — you must treat them differently. Give them more chances, opportunities and attention.

Extroverts & Introverts: These characteristics on the ends of a spectrum are the fundamental aspect of human behavior. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Hidden Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, says, “Introversion and extroversion go to the heart of who a person is: How they work, how they live and how they interact.”

Your biggest managerial challenge is how to create an environment that maximizes each of your colleague’s strengths and temperaments and ensures that everyone’s needs are met whether they are mostly extroverts or mostly introverts. You must manage them differently

Do you agree that Job One is managing and leading people? Do these insights help? Let us know what you think.


October/November 2017 Issue Contents