Car Dealer Insider Jan 15, 2009
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Car Dealer Insider Jan 15, 2009

Management Matters - General Manager harnesses positive energy amid industry gloom

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Management Matters - General Manager harnesses positive energy amid industry gloom

At Kindle Autoplaza in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, business is better than at many car dealerships around the nation. New and used vehicle unit sales were off just 9 percent last year compared to 2007. That follows a decline of 6 percent in 2007 versus a year earlier. "It's not great but I know a lot of our fellow dealers are doing worse," says general manager Dave Sharp.

Industry-wide, unit sales plunged about 20 percent in 2008, with approximately 900 dealerships shuttering their doors. The National Association of Automobile Dealers expects about 1,100 more to close this year.

But despite the relative strength of the auto group - which includes Ford Lincoln Mercury and Dodge showrooms, new vehicle operations and a body shop - Dave believes that boosting employee morale is just as important at Kindle as any other dealership since there's no escaping the grim local and national automotive industry news.

"Whether an employee is getting a haircut or going to the store, everyone is talking about it. Yesterday I went to the deli and a lady there asked me how things are. That type of attention and worry festers in employees' minds," Dave tells _Dealer Business Briefing. "With what's on the news, the worry is the same no matter where you go."

To help boost morale, Dave - a former general sales manager who has been with the Kindle organization for 20 years - has been walking around the dealership and making a point of visiting with each of Kindle's 75 employees every day. "Sometimes when things are rough, I go twice a day," he says.

Although the auto group's employees are used to seeing him in their departments and at regular meetings, he says he's now... (292 of 1166 words)

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