The past 25 years have brought changes to the way we advertise, the way we think about inventory, the way we compensate employees, and the departments that put gross on the books. One thing that hasn’t changed is the way most dealers treat their sales “superstars” — or “divas,” as the case may be.
We all have no doubt been around both. So, for quick reference, a diva is like a cancer. Along with their aggression comes a certain level of destruction. Divas have no concern for the dealership, the aged units, or the other salespeople. Their only concern is themselves, and they prove it every day.
You will never have enough time to deal with these folks and, frankly, their selfishness will harm morale, derail your compliance efforts, and, frankly, undermine your gross profit. Dropping them from your payroll is a short-term loss and a long-term gain.
True superstars produce at a high level and understand they are part of a team. They lift others up because they understand that a rising tide raises all ships.
True superstars are willing to help with general dealership duties and with training others. They attend meetings and help sell the aged cars. They come to work to work.
In short, superstars are entrepreneurial in nature, and although they are competitive, they don’t feel the need to run everyone else down to win.
The presence of bona fide superstars raises several questions: Should they be treated differently, with more flexibility and the freedom to work their own deals on their own schedule? And how much freedom is too much?
The answer to the first question is “Yes!” Why would you not give an entrepreneurial salesperson the same freedom most entrepreneurs get? Look, if you have a team player selling 20-plus units a month and they want to leave by 6 o’clock every night or take some extra vacation time, let them do it.
As for the amount of freedom to grant your superstars, you obviously need to continue to audit them. You must ensure they are compliant, making appropriate grosses, and still conducting themselves like a team player.
And if they are, give them what they want. They are no doubt making money; if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there. Reward them through freedom and time.
Lose the Attitude
The perks described above are only appropriate for your true superstars. And to keep them, they have to continue to play fair and keep the dealership’s best interests at heart. They must be willing to help your managers train the new folks. They must make time to chat with the service customers who just purchased a car a few months ago. They must never burn through the ever-precious walk-in.
If you have one or two of these on your staff, recognize it. Just don’t mistake loyalty or long-term employees for superstars. There is no real correlation.
Superstars perform, period. They don’t really have “off” months. They don’t make excuses, just sales. They are what we all hope to be: the best.
Jason Heard is the general manager of Lee’s Summit (Mo.) Honda. He is a 25-year industry veteran with extensive sales and sales management experience. Contact him at [email protected].