If one of your department managers was promoted — or even left the dealership —  do you know who would replace them? Do you have employees who you’ve mentored and trained who are prepared to move into management roles? In the case of sports, having a strong bench prepares a team for something as every day as the starters needing to take a breather to the more serious — season ending injuries. 

The same is true for your dealership staff. Your department managers and key employees are your starters. Their “breathers” are vacations and sick days. And their season ending injuries, retirement, promotion or leaving the business. You need to have the bench strength to carry on — and succeed — without them. Lately it seems like we talk a lot about recruiting new employees, but are we giving enough attention to developing the employees we already have? If 2020 taught us anything it was that you never know what’s going to happen and you need a flexible and adaptable staff who can step up on a moment’s notice.  

Beyond just knowing who is next in line for a management or leadership position, it’s important to be building up the players below them too. When you elevate one person, they leave a spot to fill. The other day I was talking with Tom Rosztoczy, president of Stotz Equipment, about his dealership’s training program. He was saying that every year they have more employees go through their leadership training program than positions there will be to fill. But, he made a point to say that someone can be a leader within their department without being the manager. Sometimes the manager isn’t who the staff sees as the go-to person for questions and guidance. Their program helps those more quiet leaders shine and grow, even if there isn’t a management position open. 

When hiring new staff, it may seem odd to think about it as hiring your replacement. But that approach can set the stage for future growth and development. Several years ago when Dave Kanicki interviewed me for my position with Lessiter Media, he told me he was hoping to hire his replacement. From that point on, he mentored me and prepared me for what it was going to take to fill his shoes (a daunting task to say the least). But he and Mike Lessiter were always there to answer my questions and when the time came for me to step up, I was ready — largely thanks to that guidance.  It’s something that has always stuck in the back of my mind as we’ve hired new editors along the way and work to grow our own bench. 

At the end of last summer’s Virtual Dealership Minds Summit, we asked attendees and past attendees what topic they would be most interested in for future events. The stand out was talent management and employee development. Based on that response, we’re excited to bring the Dealership Minds Summit back in 2021 with the theme of Developing Your Homegrown Talent, and our plan is to return to a live event in Omaha, Neb., Aug. 3-4. We’re working on putting the program together right now. If there are specific topics or dealerships you’d like to learn from, reach out and let me know at 262-777-2431 or kschmidt@lessitermedia.com.     

You can learn more or register for the 2021 Dealership Minds Summit at www.DealershipMindsSummit.com.