Climbing the dealership management ladder requires commitment to the goal and practical steps to meet it. 
 - Illustration by mushakesa via Getty Images

Climbing the dealership management ladder requires commitment to the goal and practical steps to meet it.

Illustration by mushakesa via Getty Images

Who’s the boss? Do you want to be the boss? Many people tend to sit on the sidelines of life. They just want to do their job and go home, never having to take responsibility for too much. If you are not that person and you have the desire, dreams, and willingness to go after what you want, here are some tips to help you on your journey to the top.

1. Call Your Shot (at Least to Yourself).

Decide what you want and what that looks like. As simple as this may sound — well, it is. Deciding that you want to go after the general manager position is paramount. Ask yourself why you want to be the person in charge.

This journey will have the highest highs and the most amazing opportunities — situations the masses may refer to as “challenges.” They become opportunities when your why and your desire is strong enough.

2. Outgrow Your Current Job.

Be the best. Be consistent. Do all things well. Set an example. Whatever you are currently doing at the dealership, it is time to excel.

Excellence is not a part-time thing; it is an all-the-time thing. It cannot be stressed enough that you must be excellent at the little details, the mundane, the grind. Be the most accurate, be the earliest, be the first one to help — take the late deal, park cars on a hot Saturday night, handle the heat case, make a few extra calls a day.

All these activities add up to a much greater amount of success in your life and your career.

3. Study. Read. Watch. Ask.

Learn people. Get out of your current knowledge and comfort zone. The best and most successful GMs are lifelong learners.

Go to the library and check out books on selling, goal setting, teamwork, business organization — anything you can find. Make yourself a promise to read daily (yes, seven days a week) and keep the promise to yourself. Start with 10- or 15-minute sessions and write down a quick synopsis of what you just read. Don’t just skim.

As you learn more, put it into practice. Try the new techniques, push yourself, and experiment. Track what is working and discard what isn’t.

4. Pack Your Bags.

Be ready to move. Running the dealership you are at may not be in the cards, at least not in the timeframe you are hoping for. There are times where you must move to move up.

You may not have to change states. But if you are serious about becoming a GM, at some point, you will probably have to change stores.

5. Train Your Replacement.

You can’t promote if you can’t be replaced. Good GMs know how to spot and develop talent. Training your replacement ensures upward mobility and makes you understand your current job better. To teach anything, we must break it down into chunks and help others understand it.

In closing, understand that all of us can do and be whatever we choose. These steps are a good start. But the first and last step is to decide on and commit to your “why.” What fuels your burning desire to make it to the GM’s chair?

That, my friends, is the question that each of us must answer on our own. Once you find it, you will have all the motivation you need to accomplish your goal.

Jason Heard is a 25-year auto retail veteran with extensive sales and sales management experience. Contact him at [email protected]

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