2020: Hiring & Training Managers For Survival & Growth By Bill & Chris Sitter  

The year 2020 sounds way off. However, as we’re close to launching into 2010, we need to realize that a long-range planning scenario leads us rapidly to 2020. Since we are not blessed with 20/20 foresight, and considering that our industry has clearly been in an economic trough… how should dealer and manufacturer executives approach managerial hiring and training decisions? Unless you plan to sell or close your enterprise, there is an obligation to plan for the short-term survival and for the long-term growth of the business. This complex scenario requires a special breed of manager and your organization will need to consider a combination of internal management training and selective hiring from the outside. Following are several helpful pointers:

    • Start with your business planning process. We realize that many are struggling to survive but sound business practice calls for a short, medium and longer-term plan. Granted, your 2010 plan may be more tactical and survival oriented but hopefully the 2015 & 2020 plans involve strategic growth moves. In any event, please consider your business plan before investing heavily in new managerial hiring or training.
    • Revisit your organization chart to ensure that the key leadership slots line-up with the objectives in your business plans. We encourage you not to hire based on past needs. This seems so obvious, but it is a frequent occurrence in our industry. For example, the dealership’s top product support manager (who did a great job for 25+ years) is retiring. The tendency is to hire a clone. However, the service & parts landscape in 2020 will look very different than the past, so assess the modern tools and technologies required and hire for the future.
    • Include position spec requirements relating to: communication skills, financial savvy, computer expertise, travel and/or relocation requirements, interpersonal skills, practical problem solving or “street smarts”, and a proven and verifiable record of successful management results.
    • We could write a book on the personal traits you should seek in a new management hire, and they can all be found in the Bible: diligence, honesty, teamwork, respect, ethical conduct…these are just a few. So insist on the hard skill sets that you need and the practical experience and education necessary to accomplish what the position spec calls for, but please do not lower your standards in the all-important area of character.
    • Now you’re in a better position to assess your present leadership group. See if some of your present managers should be repositioned, and be willing to make bold moves. Identify areas for training, as some of your managers will gladly embrace education that will enhance their performance and their ability to contribute to the success of the organization. It is almost always better to invest in training than in hiring from outside…assuming the ability and desire to learn are present.
  • Use your new position specs to recruit & hire new talent as needed. This spec should also be the standard used to evaluate incumbent managers. Your spec gives you the bull’s eye for selection. Use it wisely and insist on people who meet or exceed your Desired Qualifications (as long as they are realistic).

As we close this article, you may be wondering if our 30 year old, industry focused, executive search firm is walking the talk & planning for 2020. The answer is “YES”. We tightened things up when the industry turned down and recently we added a key member to our management team and an excellent addition (actually a re-hire) to our support group. We believe that most dealers and OEMs have gotten so lean that any uptick in business will require more people. And, like you, we see the need to be positioned to serve our clients in 2010 and also in 2020.

It is exciting that AED’s Annual Convention will soon be right here in the Alamo City. Chris Sitter, Jerry Randecker and I look forward to seeing you in January.

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