Leaders in the Automotive Industry

Robert Morgan

As I visit with Dealers and General Managers almost all agree that we do not do enough to help our Managers become better leaders. I agree, we all get "Thrown to the Wolves" so to speak. Results are expected. 

If provided a solution to this most agree something needs to happen. I wonder if all our results driven programs and pay plans are actually feeding into the issue. 

The Automotive Industry is a what have you done lately business. If a "Bad" Manager gets results we ignore the issue. I had the discussion with a management team about raising a price when a customer did not know about the sale price. It is okay they said. Results over ethics.

Does this business really want to build leaders or build profits and results overlooking almost anything else? We all know customers hate our process yet we still teach the same steps from 30 years ago. Same ads, pricing no one qualifies for.

There are many great Leaders in our business. To those Leaders, we are forever in your debt. Thank You. Unfortunately, the majority take results over ethics.

Is it results over ethics?

Chris K Leslie

How is it unethical to get the most out of the products you sell? 

Robert Morgan

My point was asking the question. If you have a car on sale and your customer does not know it, is it ok to raise the price? its an ethical point, is it ok to take advantage of the unknowing, employee or customer.

Derrick Woolfson

I think this is a multi-faceted answer - where (on the flip-side) managers are so focused on 'price' that it can have a negative effect on the customers overall experience. And to your point, if they are just 'managers' and not 'leaders' then their skills are often not translated onto the sales floor. That said, I do not think it is unethical to raise the price (if the customer is not aware); however, there have been numerous occasions where the sales manager did raise the price but forgot to remove the unit from the endemic site (or dealer site) to which the customer found out as they were browsing the inventory on their phones as they waited for F&I. As a result, there have been times where the deal actually blew up and we got hit with a bad review. And in some instances, we then had to lower the price, at which point the customer was not as trusting. All that to say - if you are going to increase the price - as we do need to increase the dealer's profit margins; the sales managers job is to make the most they can for the dealer - they need to ensure that the sale price is not still on the website or other endemic sites. 

Robert Morgan

Derrick, all good points. We increase the price and hope the customer does not find out? For an extra 1000 now we take the chance of losing hundreds of thousands that we gain by not taking the chance now. If it was a referral from a friend, would we still do it? Sounds like taking advantage of the weak. We all say we must change or die, yet we hold fast to the idea that "what the customer does not know will not hurt them." "Our best customers are the ones we hold the most gross on." Legal to raise the price, probably. Unethical, absolutely goes against everything we hear customers say they hate about our business.

A bad review takes hundreds of good ones to overcome.

My point is not a judgemental one. We are in the business to make lots of money. We all choose how we do it. I just would not refer a friend to a Manager I knew would do that to them if they had an opportunity.

John Goll

from an outside perspective, it's those instances of "getting caught" raising the price on an item, whether it be a car, labor services, whatever that sows distrust not only in the individual sales person but the entire business as well. You can argue ethics all day but doing what's right by the customer should be your number one goal. If you cannot survive, then your business is unfit for market and you may want to go back and take a hard look at how you will differentiate yourself from competitors rather than relying on shady pricing tactics. Just avoid the whole situation to begin with and if something is on sale give it to them on sale and congratulate them for being a savvy consumer. 


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