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Category Archive: Management

Laura Madison

A Personal Brand: Why Automotive Salespeople Should Go For It

Personal Brand

A personal brand is an incredibly powerful tool for salespeople to increase visibility with prospective clients and increase sales, so why aren’t more salespeople taking action? Perhaps because automotive salespeople do not realize how creating and maximizing a personal brand can solve two important challenges they face. Here are two problems having a strong personal brand can solve:

Challenge #1 – Leads

A common complaint among car salespeople is there are too few leads to keep them busy. A number of factors can be blamed for this complaint; slow phone traffic, a quiet season, or minimal walk-in showroom traffic.

How a personal brand can solve this challenge:

A personal brand is an opportunity for salespeople to come out of obscurity. Salespeople can use social media sites like Facebook and YouTube to promote themselves and their role selling cars to begin to gain local visibility. Participating on social platforms allows salespeople to connect with prospective customers and ultimately motivate them through the front door. Social media is also a phenomenal way for salespeople to build and maintain relationships with previous customers, so they’ll never forget who to refer and work with on the next purchase.

Challenge #2 – Differentiation

Differentiation may be the largest problem a salesperson faces. Whether the challenge is an inability to differentiate their Toyota store from the one down the street, or the Toyota Camry from the Honda, or differentiate themselves from other salespeople on staff, differentiation is an enormous salesman struggle.

How a personal brand can solve this challenge:

By creating and using a personal brand salespeople are building value in themselves. They are introducing themselves to prospective buyers and utilizing a platform to speak with customers genuinely, on a human-to-human level. An opportunity for an automotive salesperson to speak with prospects about what differentiates himself, his store, and the product is invaluable.

A personal brand puts a salesperson’s face in front of a prospect and begins building trust and relationship. By the time that customer comes into the dealership, he will know how to ask for and recognize his automotive professional and online connection. Creating a quick video, for example, to follow up an incoming internet lead can be an extremely powerful differentiator. If the customer submitted leads to five stores, the salesperson maximizing personal branding will likely be the only who has used something like video to communicate, and begin to build trust with, this customer. Building this type of value can not only earn a sale, but also make a customer fiercely loyal in the future.

In summary, a personal brand can help salespeople create a pipeline outside the walls of the dealership and build value in themselves, their dealership, and their product. That should be enough motivation to begin encouraging salespeople to create a strong personal brand on social media, so get to it!

UV Training

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Tony Alessandra

Customer Service – The DISC Styles Way!

mature salesman showing new car to a couple

Everywhere you turn today, you hear about the importance of customer satisfaction. From the bank to the phone company to the video store, every business seems to proclaim “The Customer Is King,” that “People Are Our Business,” that “Your Satisfaction Is Our No.1 Goal.”

 So, you might think that service is getting better with each passing moment. Surveys, though, suggest otherwise. In fact, one customer in four is said to be thinking about leaving the average business at any given time because of dissatisfaction.

What’s wrong? One answer is that that too many companies and employees view customer support as something that happens once and then is over. But true service focuses not on a one-time event but on building a sustained, positive relationship.

A second reason for poor service is that we often treat customers and clients as if they’re all pretty much the same. But only by honoring their individuality can we hope to build lasting rapport. Firms and people with a positive attitude toward service know that each contact–even a conflict or a complaint–is an opportunity that may never come again. Such encounters typically fall into three categories:

Moments of Magic: Positive experiences that make customers glad to do business there.

Moments of Misery: Negative experiences that irritate, frustrate, or annoy.

Moments of Mediocrity: Routine, uninspired service that leaves neither a strong positive impression nor a strong negative impression.

Moments of Magic might include a hotel clerk who greets you with a warm smile, uses your name, shakes your hand, and sincerely asks that you call her with any problems. You remember such experiences.

But you probably remember even more clearly Moments of Misery, such as clerks who won’t take responsibility for solving problems–personnel who don’t know what they’re doing-and worse yet, don’t seem to care–or salespeople who first ignore you, then act as if they’re doing you a favor by taking your money. We’ve all had those experiences, but usually not more than once at the same place. Because we don’t go back.

Exceeding Expectations

The key to creating a Moment of Magic is exceeding a customer’s expectations. Sounds simple enough. But because people’s expectations vary according to personality type, what works for one may not work for another.

Handling a complaint is one of the most common, yet difficult, service situations, for customer and employee alike. So we’re going to look at that process and how we can use knowledge of the DISC behavioral styles to create Moments of Magic.

As anyone who’s ever dealt with upset customers can attest, they can be a diverse bunch: some loudly belligerent, some agitated but overloading you with details, others low-key and almost apologetic. But if you respond the same way to the belligerent, the agitated, and the apologetic, you might increase the irritation for some of them. You might even produce a Moment of Misery.

That’s because each style shows different symptoms of stress and reacts in different ways. But if you can recognize and respond to these patterns, you can reduce stress, yours and theirs.

Dealing with High ‘D’ Dominance Styles

As complainants, High D’s can be aggressive and sometimes pushy. And they may become intrusive, perhaps saying something like, “I demand to see the president this instant!” or “If you don’t furnish me every last bit of correspondence in this matter, you’ll hear from my lawyer in the morning.”

High D’s may appear uncooperative, trying to dictate terms and conditions. But ask yourself: what do they need? You can help defuse them by providing:

• Results, or at least tangible signs of progress;

• A fast pace;

• Evidence that they have control of the situation;

• A belief that time is being saved.

The last thing you should do is to assert your authority and argue with the High D’s. They’re not going to be listening, and they’ll probably out-assert you. “Nobody ever won an argument with a customer” is an axiom of service. And that’s doubly true with High D’s.

Dealing with High ‘I’ Influence Styles

High I’s with a complaint may seem overeager and impulsive. “I need this settled right this moment,” they might say, despite your logical explanation of why this complex situation can’t possibly be cleared up for 48 hours. High I’s, usually skilled in verbal attack, may also come across as manipulative, perhaps saying, “I wonder if a letter to your CEO and chairman of the board would improve your attitude?”

Under stress, High I’s’ primary response may be to disregard the facts and anything you say. But you can address their needs by giving them:

• Personal attention;

• Affirmation of their position;

• Lots of verbal give-and-take;

• Assurance that effort is being saved.

You may think the best course is to sit there impassively and let the High I’s harangue you. But, actually, you’d probably be better off to give them a quick-paced, spirited explanation that shows you aren’t just brushing them off.

Dealing with High ‘S’ Steadiness Styles

High S’s are the least likely to be loud and argumentative. When they do come forward, they may appear submissive, hesitant, or even apologetic. Worse yet, they may not even complain openly but just internalize their dissatisfaction and then take their business elsewhere. So if you suspect a problem, you may need to draw them out.

High S’s hate conflict, so they just wish this whole problem would go away, even if it weren’t necessarily settled in their favor. “I’m sorry to make such a big deal out of this,” they often say.

High S’s will be made most comfortable if you:

• Make them feel they’re personally “okay”;

• Promise that the crisis will soon ebb;

• Guarantee that the process will be relaxed and pleasant;

• Show you’re committed to working with them to iron out the problem and save the “relationship.”

You might be tempted to think the diffident RELATER is not to be taken seriously and can be shunted aside with mere lip service. But, remember, they’re just as upset as High D’s are; they just express it in a much more low-key way. And they’ll quietly go elsewhere if their needs aren’t met.

Dealing with High ‘C’ Conscientious Styles

High C’s won’t loudly carp and cajole like High D’s or High I’s, but they won’t be submissive, either. And their complaints may have a sharper edge to them than will the High S’s.

High C’s tend to recite the chronology of events and the litany of errors they’ve had to endure. They’ll provide data and documentation and get quite involved in the details of the snafu.

Here’s how you can lessen tension with complaining High C’s:

• Suggest that they’re right

• Explain the process and details

• Show appreciation for their accuracy and thoroughness

• Help them save face”

You may see them as compulsives more hung up on the process and on showing they’re right than getting the problem resolved. But if you want to retain their loyalty, you’ll deal with them precisely and systematically, emphasizing your firm’s interest in seeing justice done.

An Important Head Start

Knowing and using The Platinum Rule to deal with complaints gives you an important head start toward creating a Moment of Magic. It allows you to collaborate with your customers in solving the problem, reducing the likelihood that they’ll make outrageous demands, become abusive or take their business elsewhere.

In fact, studies show that customers who feel that a business has responded to their complaints are more likely than non-complainers to do business there again. They actually become more loyal than if the problem never happened.

So look at your complaints as opportunities to show much you really care about the customer. Remember: Your customers aren’t just part of your job; your customers are the reason you have a job!


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Dave Anderson

Building a High Performance Culture (Part 19)

This article is part of a multi-part series titled “Building a High Performance Culture” by Up To Speed Guest Expert, Dave Anderson, of LearnToLead®.


Words that Work: Wise

Words that Hurt: Foolish

In this post on building a high performance culture, I’m adding the word “wise” to the “words that work” column, and “foolish” to the list of cultural “words that hurt”.

I’ll expand on traits of both wise and foolish people, as well as strategies for dealing with both below. First, let’s do a quick review of the strong and weak cultural words so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move towards, as well as what you must move away from culturally in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern.

Interest: to be curious about (as opposed to being committed).

Wise is defined as: having or showing good judgment.

Foolish is defined as: lacking good sense of judgment.

Keep in mind that wise doesn’t necessarily mean book-smart, and a fool isn’t necessarily an untalented dullard. In fact, sometimes the “fool” is the brightest person in the room. And while most people show signs of both wise and foolish behavior from time to time, the trait that dominates should best foretell their future with your organization.

What can accurately help you determine how to categorize one as wise or foolish is in how they respond to the feedback you give them on their behaviors. Author Dr. Henry Cloud specifically mentions the following differences. Pay close attention, because in order to build or sustain a strong culture it’s essential you have wise people throughout; those who respond as follows when receiving feedback on their behaviors and performance:

  • They thank you for it.
  • They own it; take responsibility for it.
  • They show remorse for unhealthy behaviors when you bring it to their attention.
  • Your relationship with them strengthens as a result of the feedback.
  • They change their behavior as a result of getting feedback.

You can take wise people far in an organization. Your investments in time, dollars, training, coaching and mentoring return to you exponentially over time as they grow and increase their capacity to contribute to the organization.

Unlike a wise person, the fool does the following when you give him feedback:

  • Externalizes it: He will blame others, conditions, and even you for their behavior or results: “You do the same thing!” etc.
  • Minimizes it: He will try to convince you his behavior or result isn’t that big of a deal: “I was only ten minutes late. What’s the big deal?”
  • Rationalize it: He will excuse it; say he had no choice based on the situation he was in, the options available: “Given the hand I was dealt, I didn’t have a choice,” etc.
  • The relationship weakens as a result of your giving feedback; the person withdraws, pouts, resents and tells others how unfair you are.

Your future with foolish people within your organization should be brief, at best. They demonstrate character flaws you cannot fix or change. They can fix or change them, but don’t seem to see the need for it.



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Steve Hall

Why Dealers Should Be In Express Service

Express Service

Dealers know you must provide fast, convenient, and competitively-priced service in order to retain your customer base.  They also know that oil changes and light maintenance are the most requested service items by customers.  Knowing this, why do dealers continually fight express service?

I’ve heard all the excuses: it hurts my hours per repair order; it hurts my gross profit percentage; it hurts my effective labor rate; I can’t make any money in express service; the list goes on and on.  Shouldn’t we think about it differently?

Isn’t it logical that if a customer comes to you for express services, you will have an advantage to getting the remainder of their maintenance and repair work?  Customers generally do business with people they trust.  If you start to grow that relationship from day one, when the only things that are needed are express-types of items, won’t you have the trust of the customer when the “real” repairs come into play?

We need to realize express service is the gateway to real profits, and if done properly you can make plenty of money along the way.   After all, how do you think all the mass merchandisers and independents stay in business?

Let’s look at it this way, have you ever taken a low profit (or no profit) deal on a new vehicle?  I’m sure that every dealer has, many times.  Why do you do this?  Often times it is because you are getting a trade-in you feel you can make money on.  Other times it is so you can move a unit off the lot to reduce your inventory costs, or maybe to help you reach unit bonus levels for factory incentive money.  Possibly, it was just so you would have an opportunity for the F&I department.  Whatever the reason you decided to take the short deal, you have a plan.  The loss of front-end gross on that unit gave you opportunities to make more money in the long run.  You had to make the deal to gain all of the other benefits.

Can you relate this thought process to express service?  We must retain the customer in order to get all of the long-term benefits.

But express service has an added benefit.

If properly structured, you will make money in express while retaining your customer.  That is a win-win, both short- and long-term!

Take a few minutes and examine how much money is spent on a single vehicle over the lifetime of that vehicle.  Include average warranty work, recalls, oil changes, maintenance, tires, brakes, breakdowns and everything else that happens eventually to every vehicle.  Once you add all of these dollars together and look at the complete picture, you really see what the customer is worth over the lifetime of the vehicle.  Now you must develop your plan to make sure that customer never goes anywhere else, and express service has to be part of that plan.

Let’s look at express service for what it can and should be, a profit center with long-term financial benefits.  Remember, customer retention is a good thing.  Get fast, get efficient, get competitive and get profitable!

Increase performance while increasing profits with NCM OnDemand.

Click here to take a free test drive and see what NCM OnDemand has to offer.

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Tom Hopkins

Setting Realistic Sales Goals

Success conceptAchieving sales volume goals is one of the biggest challenges any automotive salesperson faces. This is a pretty straight forward industry. If you’re not making the cut, you can quickly find yourself cut from the team.

There are so many factors that can affect that final number, that you have to stay on top of every aspect of your sales activities and keep making client contacts.

Hopefully, you are dedicated, professional, and motivated to achieve your auto sales career goals. If you are not, read no further. Instead, start looking for another product to market, something that lights a fire in your belly, something you truly believe in.

If you aren’t truly excited about the product you are offering, it will show in your demeanor or in some little thing you say or do while with potential clients. They’ll sense it, and little doubts and fears will arise in them about purchasing your vehicle. So, first and foremost, in order to achieve anything in this business, you have to believe in your line of vehicles, in the company you represent, and in your own ability to excite others about them.

Let’s assume for now, though, that you do have the knowledge, the belief and the right attitude in place. How do you set and achieve the sales goals? Start, by setting a financial goal for yourself for the year. Break it down into quarters and months. Is the monthly goal realistic? If not, you either need to downsize your goal or super-size your skills. You decide.

Next, consider the average amount you earn on a typical automobile sale. Divide that into your monthly earning goal to see how many vehicles you need to move this month. Consider your gut reaction and first thoughts when you see that number. Is it one of “Hey, I can do that”? Or, is it, “Wow! How am I going to do that?”

If it seems easy, consider increasing your sales goal. If it seems like it will be a challenge, good. Your goal should be something that both excites you and makes you stretch a bit each month.

When you’re in stretch-mode:

  • You’ll be open to learning new ways of connecting with people.
  • You’ll look forward to making follow up calls and contacting those who are referred to you.
  • You’ll get out of bed in the morning with excitement to face the day and accomplish something positive.

This next step in achieving your goals is critical: Multiply your sales ratio by the number of vehicles determined above to learn how many people you need to connect with this month. Do you typically sell every fourth client you meet at your dealership? If so, your ratio is 1:4. If you need to get people happily involved in 10 vehicles to achieve your earnings goal, you’ll need to meet 40 of them in order to do so. That’s when you’re working with the law of averages.

Is it realistic for you to meet 40 people this month? If not, again, you either downsize your goals or learn new and better ways to meet people, put them at ease, and get them to like you, trust you, and want to listen to you.

That’s the bottom line of what selling is all about. People buy from people they like.

  • If you’re not like-able, you’re out of luck.
  • If you’re not knowledgeable, they won’t trust you.
  • If you want people to listen to you and take your advice about vehicle ownership, you have to learn to listen to them.
  • If you ask questions and get them talking, they’ll tell you exactly what they want to own…not just the make and model of the vehicle, but the features, the economy, the cool color, whatever it is that will make them say, “Yes, that’s the car for me.”

So, in getting back to these 40 people you need to meet this month, where are you going to connect with them? Hopefully, you’re not one of those salespeople who waits in the lot, hoping the company advertising campaign will bring ‘em in droves. To achieve your automotive selling goals, you have to invest time in reaching out to people all on your own.

Call your past clients to see if they’re still happy with their vehicles. These calls shouldn’t take more than two minutes each. It’s just a way of touching base, making them feel important and giving them an opportunity to tell you once again how happy they are. If they’re happy, you have the right to ask them for referral business. If they’re not, you need to know about it because their unhappiness can cost you a lot of future business.

Knowing your target for meeting people is the way to achieve the sales goals you’re reaching for.


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Steve Hall

Is There a Disconnect in Your Automotive Dealership?


Being an instructor at the NCM Institute has some definite advantages. I am blessed with an abundance of information, from all levels of the dealership. Week by week, we get to interact with owners, general managers and department managers. Not only do we share our information and best practices, but listen and learn about what is going on in your dealerships.

As our students attend class, you can actually see the ideas start to click in their minds. The light bulb comes on and they start to visualize how the content, systems and processes apply to them. They see how to make THEIR department or store better. It is an inspiring sight to see.

As they leave class on the final day, we often hear comments concerning the information covered, such as this:

“My owner came back from a 20 Group meeting and was excited about this ‘great’ idea, but after he explained it for ten minutes, I couldn’t see how it would work for us, and so I just didn’t do it. Now that I’ve been able to see the whole picture, I understand what he was trying to say and how good it can be for our store. Thanks for filling in the gap.”

The gap (or disconnect)… that is the problem. When asking owners why more best practices aren’t instilled in their stores, I often get the response, “There seems to be a disconnect between what we tell them and what they understand.”

Is this disconnect possibly the result of “abbreviated communication”?  An example: A dealer goes to a 20 Group meeting and they are shown a presentation about a subject. The presentation is 1-2 hours long and is filled with great numbers, facts and examples. It seems like a slam dunk. During the remainder of the meeting, the owner talks with other dealers that have used this idea and are prospering. Now he is convinced this could reap benefits in his store.

Convinced the idea is great, he gets back to his store and summons the department manager. He talks about this idea, and even gives the manager a printed copy of the Power Point. Now he sends the manager on his way to launch this new idea. “Let’s start it now” are the parting words.

At this point, does the manager fully understand how this idea will integrate into the store? Or what the real benefits are? The information that was presented over a couple of hours and the follow up inquires that lasted a couple of days, have now digressed to a 20 minute “get this done” talk. None of the idea details were covered thoroughly enough for the manager to successfully understand.

Now the manager goes to launch this new idea. What does he do? Generally, he flips through the Power Point slides, not fully understanding the information, and then dilutes the information from the 20 minutes that was given to him, down to a 10 minute version for his staff. The staff tries to make the process work, but they are unprepared and often times uncommitted. They just don’t get it.  Are we starting to see the disconnect yet?

Rather than the flow of information getting smaller with each level, shouldn’t it get larger, just like a river does? As tributaries add into a river it grows in power and strength. If we have a great idea, as we feed the information down to our employees shouldn’t the idea grow? Aren’t two minds better than one?

The next time you are launching a great idea, remember to give more than you received.

Take the time to instruct, explain and follow up with the people that are involved. Apply accountability management principles and see the great ideas prosper, not wither away without ever gaining the needed traction. Bridge the gap and remove the disconnect.

At the NCM Institute, we try to give more information, explaining the “how” along with the “why.”  If you are tired of the disconnect, check out our courses and let us help bridge the performance gap in your store.

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Terry Wichmann

Car Dealers: Are you Paranoid Enough to Survive?


Andy Groves’ first business book was entitled, “Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Identify and Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Business.” The recent and relatively sudden decline in gasoline prices has me thinking about Mr. Groves’ theory, as what is great news for consumers and car dealers ironically often wreaks havoc on dealership profitability.

At NCM, our foundational service is peer-to-peer collaboration around dealership operating performance that results in profit improvement. We do this in our 20 Groups, our management training programs, and our in-dealership consulting programs where we can show how a dealer’s operation compares to his or her peers in the industry. But we also do this among our own internal retail experts using technologies that keep us connected, even though we are out in the “field” each and every day.

Last week, our internal teams here at NCM Associates were deliberating the impact of lower gas prices on the mix of cars and trucks the dealers will stock. Of course, the inventory mix almost always changes when gas prices decline noticeably and the demand for larger vehicles and trucks increases. At the same time, the manufacturers, who must keep their eye on their EPA numbers, are likely going to further incentivize small cars and pay for the additional incentives by increasing the price on SUVs and other so-called “gas-guzzlers.”  This is demand and supply economics complicated by regulation and it’s nothing new to car dealers.

But as a consultant to those same car dealers, my bigger concern is what happens in the used vehicle market when the price of gas declines noticeably.  Savvy dealers (maybe those who are a little more paranoid than the rest) know that they must pay close attention to their used vehicle inventories in light of this short-term reality by managing their trades and pricing with the more likely, long-term reality in mind.

So dealers, what will you do to ensure you don’t wake up to a used vehicle inventory of SUVs and full-size pickups if/when the next crisis hits and the price of gas zooms to $4/gallon or more? If you’re not keeping a close eye on your inventory mix now, you’d better get a handle it soon, or let the used vehicle “write-downs” begin.

About Terry Wichmann:

Master dealership financial management and learn proven variable and fixed operations processes and management best practices that will help you drive more strategic growth and profitability. Click here for details. 

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Kathryn Carlson

How Should You be Preparing for Year End?


As 2014 comes to a close, human resources also has year-end responsibilities. The most important year-end preparation revolves around compliance, benefits, and payroll administration. Ensuring that the following list is completed at the end of each year allows you to start off the new year with a clean slate and also allows you to keep track of when these tasks are completed so that you stay up-to-date:

Overall HR Compliance

In HR, compliance encompasses many things. To prepare for the new year your policies and procedures must be up-to-date. To stay compliant review the following:

  • Policies and procedures – Ensure that all policies and procedures still apply and comply with changes to regulations that changed throughout the year. If you are not sure about changes specific to your state KPA can provide you with a list of changes and necessary updates.
  • Complete an HR audit – Have a 3rd party conduct an HR audit to ensure that your record keeping systems are compliant.
  • Audit your records – Dispose of appropriate records before the new year.
  • Update your calendar – Review upcoming HR regulation and reporting deadlines for the coming year and add them to your calendar.
  • Prepare for updates – Note and prepare for regulatory updates that go into effect January 1st.

Benefit Plans

Benefits compliance and reporting can be complicated, so begin this process early to make sure that you and all dealership employees are properly covered. Make certain to:

  • Incorporate all new plans – Ensure that new disclosure requirements and summary plan descriptions for both retirement and health plans have been incorporated into your benefits package.
  • Review deferred compensation limitations – Once you have reviewed the limits check for excess contributions to qualified plans.
  • Report Taxable Imputed Income – For employees who have life insurance over $50,000, report taxable imputed income for taxable group term life insurance.
  • IRS Reporting – Review and prepare for new reporting requirements including:
    • You must withhold and report an additional 0.9 percent on employee wages or compensation that exceed $200,000.
    • You may be required to report the value of the health insurance coverage you provided to each employee on their Form W-2.
    • Effective for calendar year 2015, you must file an annual return reporting whether and what health insurance you offered your employees. This rule is optional for 2014.
    • Effective for calendar year 2015, if you provide self-insured health coverage to your employees, you must file an annual return reporting certain information for each employee you cover. This rule is optional for 2014.

Payroll and Salary Administration Assessment

Make certain that you have all of the paperwork you need and relevant employee information to conclude the year:

  • W4 review – Have employees review their W4s if they have changed their status during the year, or have made any other changes that would affect payroll withholding.
  • Update employee information – Update records for employee addresses, demographic, and emergency information.
  • Discuss salary changes – Discuss salary changes with each employee, and provide discussed compensation in writing.
  • Issue year-end paychecks – These paychecks should include year-end bonuses and holiday/overtime pay.
  • Adjust payroll – Any changes such as salary/wage adjustments, merit increases, and minimum wage increases must be reflected on payroll.

While the main focus of preparing for year end focuses on compliance, payroll, and benefits, there are additional optional tasks that can also be tackled to help the new year begin smoothly:

Complete an I-9 Audit – The end of the year is an ideal time to review your I-9 folder. Confirm that all of your I-9s are separated from your personnel files and kept in one binder for easy access. Check that you do not have any missing I-9s and review each I-9 for errors.

Archive Terminated Employee Folders – Whether you file them in a separate file cabinet or box them all up, the end of the year is a good time to archive your terminated employee folders. You are required to maintain the folders for 7 years, but removing them from your current employee folders will help streamline your processes. No matter where you move them, make sure that they are easily accessible if you need them.

Update Labor Law Posters – Both Federal and State labor law posters need to be checked yearly. If any of the information on them has been updated, your posters must be replaced with the current versions.

Review Job Descriptions for Personnel Files – Throughout the year, many employees may have taken on new roles or responsibilities. Check that each employee has an up-to-date and signed job description in their file to ensure that you are protected in the event of a lawsuit.

Update Employee Forms –This is also a good time to complete an employee address review, so that you have the correct mailing address for W-2s.

Review the Employee Handbook – Have any of your company policies changed? They must be noted in the handbook. Make sure that each employee acknowledges receipt of the handbook too. Completing this task annually at year end will guarantee that this task doesn’t slip through the cracks.

Depending on the size of the dealership, the time it takes to complete year-end tasks may vary. Make sure to start as early as possible so that you have adequate time to fully prepare for the year end.

Do you have a question about preparing for the year end at your dealership? Contact your Human Resource Management advocate or email

About KPA

KPA is a business services provider for more than 5,100 automotive, truck and equipment dealerships, and service companies. KPA provides Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and Human Resource (HR) Management software and consulting services. KPA’s solutions have been embraced by leading auto dealers, including eight of the 10 largest dealer groups in the United States, and endorsed by 26 dealer associations from around the country. KPA joined the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in 2012. To learn more, visit or call 866.356.1735.


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Kathryn Carlson

The Impact of Employee Well-Being on Dealer Success


Not only is a balanced and healthy lifestyle good for your employees, it’s also beneficial for dealership productivity and profit. Unhealthy employees are more likely to be late to work, take more sick days, be less productive, and have a greater intention to quit. By promoting a healthy lifestyle through wellness programs at your dealership, you are able to positively affect your employees’ health as well as their quality of work.

Slight shifts in well-being have been proven to have a large bearing on overall health. When using a well-being calculator to rate individual health, a mere 5 point decrease can indicate the following (

  • 18.6% higher risk of sleep disorders
  • 15% higher risk of anxiety or depression
  • 14.6% higher risk of diabetes
  • 5.9% higher risk of hypertension
  • 6.3% higher risk of obesity
  • 0.6 unhealthy days in the past 30 days

A primary step to encouraging well-being at your dealership is to select an insurance policy with a wellness program. Insurance wellness programs are intended to promote and improve health and fitness by incentivizing participation through premium discounts, cash rewards, and gym memberships. Wellness programs often include programs to help stop smoking, illness management programs, weight loss programs, and preventative health screenings.

While insurance wellness programs can get well-being started for your employees, there are other steps to keep them engaged and continue to improve their health. To increase productivity, and thereby profit at your dealership, begin by getting buy-in from executive-level employees and managers. Executive-level buy-in raises awareness of the well-being program and demonstrates a commitment to employee health. The demonstration of commitment to a well-being program can create a cascade effect, from executive well-being to employee well-being. Additionally, executives have many tools at their disposal: corporate-wide correspondence, group meetings, corporate social media, and their overall leadership, which can help to further engage employees. Research shows that engaged employees are 21% more likely to take part in available well-being programs. As a whole, engaged employees often eat healthier, exercise more, and consume more fruits and vegetables.

Employee resources are necessary for a successful well-being plan. As a dealership, you can offer health risk assessments and screenings, allowing employees to know their current health status and what they can improve upon. Once they know what they need to change, make sure that any vending or cafeteria options provided for employees are healthy. Map out any nearby walking and running trails, focusing on distance, difficulty, and safety. If possible, bring fitness equipment and opportunities on-site or organize off-site exercise activities.

Unfortunately, many company policies can detract from employee well-being. This often happens when managers are attempting to increase productivity or insurance benefits change, creating coverage holes and employee stress. While these things may seem to positively affect the bottom line, they tend to decrease employee well-being, which can decrease profitability and productivity. A firmly implemented well-being program can help avoid these situations. To learn more about creating benefit plans and well-being plans that will positively affect your dealership, view the KPA webinar on How to Create Benefit Programs That Benefit Your Dealership or contact KPA at

KPA is a business services provider for more than 5,100 automotive, truck and equipment dealerships, and service companies. KPA provides Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and Human Resource (HR) Management software and consulting services. KPA’s solutions have been embraced by leading auto dealers, including eight of the 10 largest dealer groups in the United States, and endorsed by 26 dealer associations from around the country. KPA joined the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in 2012. To learn more, visit or call 866.356.1735.


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Robin Cunningham

Are You Managing the Asset of Time?


There are many assets available in the dealership, but the one that doesn’t really show up on your Financial Statement or 20 Group Composite is the asset of time. This can be a very a tricky asset to manage. We know the quantity of time most of our employees spend at the dealership, but what we typically don’t have the same grasp of is the quality of time being spent.

It’s very easy for anyone to abuse this asset, but vehicle salespeople might be the biggest misusers of time in the whole dealership. This has always been the case – and most of us do not do enough about it on a consistent basis. Remember, our good friend Dave Anderson always says that our biggest challenge is “chronic inconsistency.”

I can get away with saying this myself, because I was guilty of this at times in my career. I was an above-average salesperson; so I sold a lot of cars, made good money and my sales managers (for the most part) let me spend most of my time waiting for the next customer. It’s not like we didn’t follow up for be-backs, of course, but anything like consistent prospecting and business development didn’t really happen. Then when I became a Sales Manager, I didn’t know any better than to basically help my team with the customers that came in from dealership-generated leads and remind them to follow up with the ones that didn’t buy from a day or two ago. No one really followed up beyond that, other than the rare, true professionals. The psychology of a salesperson is that if you did not buy from me the first time and I cannot convert you into a be-back, then you must not have been a serious buyer.

But after I became a General Manager I grew more aware of just how high the stakes were; and how a “come to work to wait” culture was a real liability. The dealerships that truly have an appointment-setting culture are the ones that are the most consistently productive and profitable. This of course means that the more attention going into setting appointments today, the more known customers we’ll have coming in tomorrow… for both sales and service.

But in truth, I was hot and cold in my consistency and there was always just enough traffic. And if there wasn’t, there would be a new model on the horizon so traffic would be picking up soon. And with multiple brands, I was able to rationalize that we were much more on top of things than we actually were. Sound familiar?

To put it plainly, the asset of time is being abused in most dealerships.

At the NCM Institute, we spend at least three hours in our General Sales Management course dedicated to the sources of salesperson-generated leads. We highlight the statistics that this lead source closes at approximately 50% (because we already have a relationship with these clients).

Dealerships have CRM tools that are designed to manage and help close these leads. But I have yet to work with a GM or GSM who says they are at least a 6 on a scale of 1-10 on holding their people accountable for using this tool the way it was designed. In all fairness, they tell me that there are parts of the tool they use better than others. But when I ask them if they print off Daily Worksheets for each salesperson in order to help hold them accountable for their activities, most say they do not. When I ask if they have a ten-minute sit down meetings will each salesperson either before they go home each day or at the beginning of each shift, most say that they do not.

These are not meant to be “Gotcha!” sessions. The primary function of any NCM Institute class is to uncover opportunities for more productivity and profitability. And we believe that the almost cultural mismanagement of time in the vehicle sales department is the primary reason for high turnover and low productivity for probably 70% of most sales forces in every dealership.

In order to have the Total Gross Profit necessary for our variable operations to be consistently profitable, we need to have the right amount of salespeople doing the right amount of activities per day. And tools exist to help us along the way.

When it comes to personnel productivity, this lack of maximizing the time each salesperson spends per day really shows up, primarily in below average (or even just average) amount of vehicle sales per month, per salesperson. That average never really changes because most salespeople (and sales managers) are focused on dealership-generated leads rather than salesperson-generated leads.

So when we are discussing metrics with our clients and they are woefully short of Benchmark or Key Performance Indicators, it’s very likely that the asset of time is being under-utilized. In closing, I certainly hope that the time you have invested in reading this will help you maximize your asset of time more efficiently.

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