James began in the industry detailing and valeting cars when he was 18 and has been in the auto industry for 32 years now. At the age of 25 he owned his first used car location, which he later expanded to another store. Over the years he worked his way up from store manager to becoming the GM of a Lexus store here in Atlanta. The Lexus dealership later sent him to the NADA Dealer Academy and James mentions this to be a pivotal point in his automotive career.
James discusses that unless dealerships are operating in the most efficient way possible, they are not going to make it. Whether or not that means dialing down your expenses, becoming more in touch with your store, or embracing the internet and technology, you have to find the things that are going to work best for and improve your dealership. For example, James credits the internet for being an extremely helpful tool in his career at Audi Atlanta South and says it is responsible for many of the opportunities he has been given. He mentions that 60% of the sales at his dealership within the last 90 days have come from internet sales. And 38%-42% of these are done completely online, in which the dealer never even sees the customer.
Having a lower turnover rate can help dealers with efficiency. In an industry that suffers from 60%-70% turnover, James says keeping up morale, camaraderie within the staff, and keeping a fun environment in the dealership are all key pieces to turnover. James states, “When these people know that you respect them, you’re there for them, as a leader and not just words, you’re actually willing to do it with them, that people will stay with you even when it’s tough…In any industry, not just the automotive industry, the backbone of every company is the people.”
So how can you attract new people and how do you keep them in an industry that suffers from 60 to 70% turnover? James says the key piece to this is camaraderie within the staff and making sure it’s fun. If you can find a way to create something where these people know that you respect them, you’re there for them as a leader, and not just words you’re actually willing to do it with them, that people will stay with you even when it’s tough. James says that in every company, not just the automotive industry, the backbone is people.