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How General Managers Create Super Star Management Teams

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It Starts With Recruiting and Selection…

Start by hiring employees who have the skills, experience, and attitude that are needed for the job. Look for individuals who are a good fit for the dealership’s culture and who share its values and goals. So just how does a General Manager achieve success in this regard?

All too often dealerships and their General Managers take the easy way out and start looking for managers working in competing dealerships. The fact that they are familiar with the workings of a dealership, the pace of the work, and may even have a successful track record for the position you wish to fill makes them a convenient and attractive target.

You can get lucky with this approach, but this approach also has some drawbacks and you should be concerned. If you were able to hire good talent away from the competition, you need to ask yourself… why? Did they not get paid enough, or did they take your offer just because you would pay them more? Will they be subject to the same temptations if other competitors come knocking down the road?

While hiring an experienced manager from another dealership may provide you with just the person you need for the open position, you will be better off taking a more comprehensive approach to recruiting a winner.

Use a more comprehensive hiring process – concentrating first on the Interview.

Here are some Keys to a More Comprehensive Hiring Process:

  • First! Define the job requirements: Clearly define the job requirements for the position you wish to fill, including the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications. This will help you to attract the right candidates and ensure that they have the necessary skills and experience to succeed in the role. The right experience is a good place to start… but do not ignore an evaluation of the candidate’s inherent work habits. Take stock in their internal drive to succeed. And especially, take measurement of their willingness to learn and apply new processes. Someone stuck in the “this is the way I’ve always done it” mentality can be a dragging anchor holding your whole team back.

  • Advertise the position: Advertise the position in a variety of places, including job boards, social media, and industry associations. Use language that reflects the dealership’s culture and values and clearly describes the job requirements and expectations. Consider engaging your trusted managers by asking for their referrals for this open position. A successful manager will take the responsibility seriously and not offer up a lazy brother-in-law as it could backfire on him/her and degrade his/her credibility with the GM in the future.

  • Screen candidates: Screen candidates carefully to ensure that they meet the necessary job requirements. This should involve reviewing resumes, conducting phone interviews, or administering skills tests. A good source for testing is Niemann Profiles, 800.621.1153. Niemann Profiles has worked with the automotive industry since 1980, specializing in helping Dealerships hire the right person for the job the first time. Niemann Profiles works exclusively with dealerships and related industries; this allows Niemann to fine-tune their behavioral assessment service to meet the specific needs of Dealership hiring challenges. Niemann has thoroughly benchmarked all jobs in the Dealership and can help your company hire for all positions in all departments. Niemann also provides a variety of customized training opportunities to help clients enhance their ability to attract, hire and retain top performers.

  • Conduct interviews: Conduct interviews with the most promising candidates to assess their skills, experience, and fit with the dealership’s culture. Ask behavioral-based interview questions that focus on the candidate’s past performance and how they would handle specific situations in the dealership. Don’t fall into the trap of selling the job or dealership to the prospect. Your objective is to get them talking about themselves, learning as much as you can about them both personally and professionally. If you find yourself doing most of the talking, you are not learning much if anything about the prospect and will increase the likelihood of a bad hire.

  • Check references: Check the candidate’s references to verify their work history and experience. This is typically put in motion when you are considering making a job offer. In the relatively small world of retail automotive, prospects may not want to have you divulge that they are talking to potential employers. Tread lightly and be sure the prospect knows you are going to contact his or her references.

  • Make an offer: Once you have identified the best candidate, make an offer that is competitive and reflects the candidate’s skills and experience. Offers are often a combination of paying for the position and paying for the person. Keep in mind that your decisions in this area will impact other employees and their job satisfaction. You have to serve two masters… you have to live within a budget while also hiring the best talent available for the job. Understand that you need to keep both masters happy.

  • Onboard the new manager: This step in the recruiting process is one that is often overlooked. Failure to onboard your newly hired manager may very well lead to a short tenure as they or the General Manager become frustrated by lack of progress. Introduce them to the dealership’s culture, policies, and procedures. Provide them with the training and resources they need to succeed in their role.

We will have more the Onboarding Process in a future post… but keep in mind that the above is just a tiny snippet from a complete DealersEdge Guide- “General Manager’s Desk Reference and Operating Guide.”

Additional Team Building Coaching in this Chapter alone:

The Onboarding Process

Providing Ongoing Training and Professional Development

Communicating Effectively

Fostering a Positive Culture

How to Set Clear Goals and Expectations

How to Lead by Example

See details below on how you can acquire a copy of your own.


The automotive General Manager's core responsibility lies in safeguarding organizational processes by skillfully leveraging the expertise and intelligence of team members.

Through effective delegation, collaboration, and communication, they foster a dynamic work environment that promotes innovation and ensures the organization's resilience, ultimately driving success and long-term sustainability.

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