The Principal’s Office – Carla Cosenzi

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Looking for real management advice about people? Your goal as a dealer principal is to create a culture at your dealership that makes people feel empowered, productive, happy, and able to contribute to your overall success. So, don’t hobble them by limiting their tools or information. Trust them to do their job well. Get out of the way and watch them catch fire!

Sound a little too risky for you? Then perhaps you’re being too complacent with your employees. Who am I to tell you this? No one, but Grant Cardone himself has said that dealers NEED to have turnover. Ask yourself this: would you still hire every one of your current employees now, even after having seen their work ethic in action? If not, then you’re being complacent.

In an interview with Carla Cosenzi, owner of the TommyCar Auto Group, Carla said that it is crucial to any dealer principal’s success to empower their leadership. Without doing so, she does not believe that properly managing her dealer group would be feasible. That’s why it’s so critical that you can trust your employees to work hard.

Consider this: when I asked Carla to address the dealers the might be fearful of empowering management, she said, “People will leave no matter what.” Don’t focus on the few job hoppers, focus on creating an environment, a culture, that is so phenomenal your best leaders won’t want to leave. It is your responsibility to give your best people a reason to stay!

One way that Carla acts to generate a culture of success for her dealership is through giving. She has branded herself using CarlaCares, a group of nonprofit organizations to which she donates and supports. However, this is not for personal gain, as she describes herself as having a passion for giving back to her community. The bonus is the attitude change for employees that see her level of commitment. Her passion for giving is contagious, as she is also completely committed to being on-site, in her stores, every single day. Such conviction inspires her employees to achieve more than most, all while having more pride in what they do than most.

There is more than one route to creating a culture of success, but of this can you can be certain: A culture of success is absolutely essential when empowering your leaders. This is their reason to stay. Perhaps, for you, it’s just being on the front lines with your team as opposed to the stereotypical desk jockey.

Regardless of your personal style of leadership, Carla has shared several keys that are fundamental for any leader to establish (or re-establish) a successful, inspiring, fun, profitable dealership.

Here are some key tips for any dealer principal looking to completely revolutionize their dealership:

     1) Be Open

Give your employees a purpose. Of course, you might have more experience and expertise, but your team still has valid feedback. Give your employees a structured way to have their thoughts shared on a regular basis.

     2) Encourage Growth

If you’re tired of stagnant employees, then do something to help them grow. Budget dollars for personal development training. Encourage your employees to set goals, and reward them when they make progress.

     3) Be Innovative!

One of Carla’s defining reasons for success included being a risk taker. As a leader, you’ve probably taken risks for both great loss and gain. So, give employees a way to try new things without putting the company in danger.

     4) Training, Training, Training!

You, as a leader, carry a great deal of knowledge. Yet, most employees do not understand every nuance as you do. Without such context, how can they be expected to make good decisions or take the initiative? Share your knowledge with them consistently!

     5) Clearly Define Roles

Surprisingly, if you don’t know what to do you probably won’t do it well. Establish clear boundaries to reduce inefficiencies and redundancies. Plus, people are less likely to be frustrated when they know exactly what is expected of them.

     6) Require Accountability

No one is perfect. While helping your employees grow is wonderful, be sure to keep expectations high to maintain quality in your dealership. Your employees must understand that, while failure is something that can happen with innovation, there is ultimately a consequence for egregious lapses in judgement. Again, be consistent with this.

     7) Support Independence

Now that they understand they are accountable for what they do, give them space! This is crucial. If you want to develop leadership amongst your employees, then give people an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. Managers do not exist for micromanagement. Allow your managers to guide the team, but let the leaders amongst the team be creative in reaching the ultimate goal set forth by the management.

     8) Appreciate Their Efforts

Let people know that you value their contributions to your dealership. When cultivating a culture of success, having employees that feel fulfilled and useful is 100% necessary. People will be more driven to do great things for you when they are appreciated and openly acknowledged. It’s doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, even the simplest signs of appreciation let’s your team know that you care about what they’re doing. It will make them feel important (and they are!)