Are you investing in leadership training?

Many factors go into the success of an auto dealership: offering high-quality vehicles, providing outstanding customer service and strong inventory management.  However, one success factor that many dealerships often overlook is leadership training and development.

Two primary approaches can be used to train and advance your future leaders.  Dealerships can rely on internal sources of development or they can seek help from outside the organization.

Internal – Mentor young leaders

Internal leadership development is practiced when owners and executives devote time to helping new managers and employees who might one day be promoted to positions of leadership. Begin this process by shifting your mindset from one in which you view yourself as “the boss” to one in which you view yourself as a mentor to young leaders learning the ropes.

Practical ways to do this:

  • Generously share your knowledge and experience with young leaders while working with them to shore up their weaknesses and bolster their strengths.
  • Invite young leaders to participate in important meetings and solicit their input during these gatherings. This includes both internal management meetings and meetings with external vendors, manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Get young leaders involved with the industry trade association and a Dealer 20 group so they can meet and network with other leaders in your industry.

Give young leaders real decision-making authority. Don’t be afraid to let them fail if their decisions don’t pan out. Your most promising employees will learn real-world lessons now that can prove invaluable later in their leadership careers.

External – Invest in leadership training

A wide range of training options are available to help your employees hone their leadership skills. Consider the following:

National Automobile Dealers Association Academy – Six one-week classroom sessions combined with hands-on practical training in all dealership departments.

American Truck Dealers Academy Similar to the NADA Academy, but the material is customized to focus on developing leaders at commercial truck dealerships. Info on both the NADA and the ATD training can be found here:

College of Automotive Management: Leadership in Sales and Management – A course focused on teaching young leaders the concept of “servant leadership” — or helping other employees achieve their goals in the context of the dealership’s overall objectives. Learn more at:

Joe Verde Sales and Management Training – Developing and training leaders in management who can help grow a dealership. Details can be found here:

David Lewis & Associates Online Leadership Series – Exploring and reinforcing the various personalities and traits necessary to be an effective dealership leader. Learn more:

Clark Schaefer Hackett Talent Recognition & Development servicesCSH offers leadership effectiveness programs designed to help employees identify behaviors, assess their abilities, and develop a plan for improvement. Learn more here:

Develop a plan that works for your dealership

Whether you choose internal training methods, external courses and seminars or some combination, developing the next generation of dealership leaders must be a priority.  Retaining and growing your dealership’s young leaders will have a positive impact on the dealership now and in the future.


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