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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Where Will Your Ambition Take You?

I don’t think I’m all that unusual (although my wife might not agree). My automotive career in the dealership world was disjointed, broken up into almost exact segments of 18 months. Some might think it’s an ADHD issue where I can’t sit still for any length of time. I’d like to think I know better. I think it’s because I’m ambitious.

What happens is this: it’s a job that I fully and completely enjoy, but for a while. I spend a year working hard and doing better than ever for income and other personal and professional KPIs. Then, after about 12 months, I begin to look beyond. I look at the position above where I am or a lateral position to a different department in the store. I get restless.

What Do You Do When You’re Restless?

When I get restless in a position, it’s because I don’t feel challenged anymore. Personally and professionally, I get a thrill out of solving big problems or completing major tasks. When it becomes routine, my toes start tapping, my gaze starts to wander and my eyes glaze over. I need professional stimulation.

My restlessness becomes all-encompassing. I look for the next challenge, the next great opportunity, and a chance to expand and hone my skills. Unless the dealership I’ve worked are the exception, professional growth isn’t a strong point among dealers, especially in the service department.

My productivity suffers from my loss of focus on tasks at hand. I begin to receive complaints from customers and co-workers. All that negative energy comes simply because I want more of something.

The result is like clockwork – at about 18 months, I make a change. I switch from the service department to the sales floor to try my hand at selling cars. I switch to a different store in the same dealer group, either because my manager wants my trouble out of their hair or because there’s a need I can fill in a different environment. Once or twice, it’s been a change of dealer groups for a new opportunity altogether.

At the risk of isolating myself, is there anyone else with a similar pattern?

What I Would Have Preferred

Like most people, I hate change. It’s not comfortable and there’s an aspect of the unexpected. Instead of flitting to and fro, I would have preferred to stay in my current department and position, developing my skills and enhancing my expertise. Like I said, dealers don’t seem to have a great grasp on the development process.

People with ambition, such as myself, have a few things going against them. A – an inflated ego is usually one component. B – we require more attention than a typical employee.

If given the opportunity, I would have wholeheartedly jumped at skills training for my position. Online courses from the manufacturer don’t cut it – they’re much like an afterthought or a requirement for the sake of numbers and ratings. If I had known or been offered to participate in online courses and training from places like DrivingSales Academy, I would have been all over it.

Better yet, I would have preferred to cross-train or groom for the position above mine. With my ambitious nature, I desired to go beyond my current standing – earn more, a more prestigious title, more responsibility. Again, it’s not a strong point in the automotive industry.

What About YOUR Ambition?

Where are you going? Whether you’re starting to get antsy for a change or you’re satisfied with where you’re at, it’s a danger to get too comfortable. Seek out opportunities for improvement outside of your dealership’s and manufacturer’s offerings. Is there a conference you can attend that will help you hone your skills? Is there an online course or webinar that can help you better yourself?

If you’re the manager of someone you suspect can do more than their current position, I believe it’s your job to get them where they should be. It might not be under your command or even in your store. I believe you will be best served in the long run by assisting your staff members to achieve their full potential.

And as a manager, your ambition should do two things: it should drive you to develop your team to be the absolute best as a group and as individuals, and your ambition should drive you to accomplish as much as you can on your own. Maybe it’s time to look at a GSM or GM position, or a fixed ops director role.

Man this really hits home with me right now. I have been in the car business for 5.5 years now, all with the same dealer and in sales. I know I work for the best dealer in my area and I sell a great product/s and have built a great customer base, but every 6-12 months I seem to go through a phase of low motivation and wanting more. One of the best things I have done for myself is dive into the social media marketing to learn something new and create new challenges for myself. Chasing bumpers can get old if that's all you're doing...

Jason Unrau

Hey Scott, I'm glad it's not just me! I went through three stores and a total of 10 changes in 15 years! 

One thing I've found that rings true is that no one can help you if they don't know you need help. Talk with your manager about your restlessness. See if they will help you find how you can get through the rough patch. 

Mark Dubis

Jason, thanks for sharing your thoughts.  In our industry we are challenged with a shortage of folks with a will to go the extra mile and take initiative in achieving great results.  Management isn't always looking for stellar performers but for people who will do just enough to get by and a bit more.  We are focusing on hiring customer service folks, not sales people and the better dealership management teams are focusing on more aggressive and talented folks, not just order takers.

R. J. James

Jason, Great example of the challenge most businesses face today, "How do you Develop People?" Unfortunately, most manager's model for people development is replicating their own progression; they coach and motivate the way they were coached and motivated.

People have changed... The Business Environment has changed... But in dealerships, and business in general, we are burning through New Hires, because we refuse to stop and adopt a New Approach to hiring, training, motivating, and DEVELOPING our people.

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