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Brandin Wilkinson

Brandin Wilkinson President / Owner

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3 Biggest Mistakes as a Manager

Becoming a Manager at 25 years old, only 3 years after accidentally stumbling into the Automotive Industry, created many challenges that were truly unexpected.  Over the last 8 years, I’ve been a General Manager and became an Owner of a Chrysler Dealership.  The mistakes never seem to end, but I’ve come to accept that.  After all, success comes down to having an obsession with everlasting self-development.  You can’t develop if you can’t accept accountability or recognize the mistakes you make, big or small. 

I wanted to share with you my 3 biggest mistakes as a Manager in hopes that if you’re in a similar situation as I was, you can avoid making the same mistakes;


Lacked Leadership

At no point was there Leadership Training offered through the dealership.  Because of this, I never put an emphasis on the importance of leadership.  The focus was more on front and back-end profit, sales volume, lead generation, and other tangible, easily measured results.  It wasn’t until I owned a Dealership, 5 years ago, that I took full responsibility for Leadership development.  When I have discussions now with other Sales and General Managers, Leadership comes up in conversation more often than not.  Thankfully, they are taking the initiative to read books, watch videos, take courses, etc. on leadership because they are seeing that it’s the intangibles of leadership that guides them to everyone’s highest level of success.



“Ego is the enemy” – Ryan Holiday.  Being new to the industry, seeing a lot of success in Sales early on, becoming a Sales Manager at 25, then the General Manager at 27 of an 800 retail unit/year dealership seemed to have an impact on my ego.  I’ve always been confident in my abilities but having this “success” early on amplified it to the ultimate extreme.  It wasn’t a true success because those around me weren’t getting the most out of my new role.  I cared more about having a title than I did about my behavior that comes with the title.  At one point, I had a Sales Consultant call me an arrogant asshole in my office, and I couldn’t even get mad because I knew he was right.  It was at this moment that I knew I had a real problem.  Google, books, and YouTube became my 3 new best friends and I started down the road of perpetual self-development.

High Expectations

I’d ask the Sales Team daily “How many calls are you going to make today?”, “Who are you going to sell to?”, “Who can we close right now?”, “How many leads do you have your funnel?”, “How many appointments do you have?”, etc.  Then I’d continue the grilling process throughout the day with relentless follow up.  These are the same questions I’d ask myself as a Sales Consultant and I took the exact same approach to the Sales Team as a Sales Manager.  After all, if it worked for me, it should work for everyone else I selfishly thought. Big mistake.  It got to the point where there was going to be a mutiny on my hands if I didn’t change my approach.  Being a hockey fan, I studied some of the best “Player coaches” in the NHL and adopted their practices into my development process and almost immediately noticed a vast improvement.  I say almost immediately because it took some time for the team to adapt to the new me and new approach.  But once they knew it was there to stay and could see that I was making a real effort to improve, morale and productivity picked up, and everyone’s stress level went down. 


I’ve adopted practices and techniques from many different industries.  Taking initiative by going out and looking for guidance and development has had a positive impact both professionally and personally.  Leaders such as Jim Kwik, Simon Sinek, Tom Bilyeu, Richard Branson, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, and many others have had an incredible impact on not only my life but those around me as well. 

Have an open mind, be willing to not change but rather improve, and be self-aware of how much of an impact your behavior has on those around you.

Robert Morgan

Leadership Training in the Automotive Industry consists of your a good sales person your a good leader, or lead like the many arrogant leaders we had. Many have trained themselves with books. Some of us were fortunate to have a great mentor. If you are a leader find someone to mentor and give back to this wonderful business.

R. J. James

Brandin... THANKS, THANKS, THANKS for being so TRANSPARENT!  Hopefully, what you shared will prompt others to take an earnest look at their leadership skills. In dealerships and many other businesses, Great Salespeople have been promoted to Sales Manager and they struggled or failed.  My consulting term for this has been, "Functional Excellence does not Guarantee Management Success!" 

Amanda Gordon

Brandin your candid posts are much appreciated. As a 36 year old who has been in the business for 16 years and recently decided I wanted to make more than just money in the industry, I wanted to make a difference I realized the only way to start is by being an effective leader. 

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