“Help, I need a manager!” Have you ever heard this?  Have you ever said it yourself?  Finding someone to come alongside you to help run and manage your dealership is a big deal. Any person you hire for a management position has to be a someone that you not only trust and get along with, but that your people will respect.

One common mistake that is made in the service manager role is this: A dealer is in need of a service manager and has three technicians who are 85% efficient or better.  The owner decides to take the best technician and “promote” them to the service manager role. While on the surface, this may seem like a good idea, the majority of the time this is a huge mistake. Not only do you lose your most valuable technician from the shop, there is a strong likelihood that this person will not have the skill set necessary to run a department.  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 suggesting you go and steal their employees, but I am saying that there is a lot to letting their employees know that you have an opening at your dealership. Often, we see assistant service managers in the auto industry become great service managers in the OPE, AG, Powersports, and Trailer industries. They have received extensive training and typically have little hope of moving up to the service manager position where they are currently employed. Another great place is auto part stores – often the people who work there are a great connecting point to managers and technicians in the industry. Develop relationships with the people who work in these stores so when a good candidate becomes available you will be one of the first to know. 

In the parts department, it is a little easier to “hire low and grow” a parts manager internally. Your 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 the time and energy to find the right person is critical. We can’t stress this enough – invest your time and energy to find the right fit for you and your dealership. 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 be on the lookout for the right people for your business. Always look for and identify prospective managers, even when you don’t think you need someone. It’s important to keep a list of and develop relationships with potential managers you would love to have on your team so that when the need arises you have a place to start.