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What’s the hardest part of your job as an RV dealership manager?

October 1, 2010

By: Carletta Clyatt

Increasing sales volumes? Controlling unit inventory? Building a strong customer relationship base? Chances are you’d shake your head “No” to each one. While these three challenges might consume a good portion of your time and fall near the top of your list of concerns, it may be that dealing with the wants, needs and varied personalities of your staff is really what taxes you most. 

Whether your dealership is large or small, you’ll almost invariably find yourself interacting with subordinates who differ from you in their abilities, reactions, attitudes, ambitions and expectations, or in their work approach, viewpoint, communication style, pace and level of confidence. Yet, somehow, you need to pull everyone together, expand the horizons of your business, boost morale and keep even the less-than-perfect employee fit enough to perform effectively. Gaining a firm grasp of not only your own unique work style but also that of each member of your team can help you achieve multiple objectives – like increasing sales volumes, controlling unit inventory and building a strong customer relationship base. It is the key to your dealership’s long-term growth and success. 

If you don’t already have specific, accurate insight into why you manage the way you do, get some! You need to understand the how’s and why’s of your own motivational trigger buttons before you can tap into someone else’s. Assuming everyone wants to be managed the way you think they want to be is a big mistake; plan to be flexible as a leader and modify your typical business techniques to suit each employee in order to gain respect, attention, enthusiasm and cooperation. There is no such thing as successful, one-size-fits-all management. And it’s not until you assess your own typical on-the-job behavior that you’ll be able to understand what each subordinate needs from you in order to accomplish goals. 

Mismanagement leads to low morale, frequent turnover, severed relationships, lost time, minimal productivity and high expenses. It can also be the real reason behind an employee’s poor performance and sour disposition. Avoid falling prey to it by learning what you can do right now to grow your team to their full potential. 

Know the predictable behavior of your subordinates, and be absolutely certain that the responsibilities you assign, the expectations you hold, and the goals you set are realistic and attainable for each uniquely wired member of your staff. While in theory there may be an almost endless array of personality trait combinations, here are a few of the more commonly seen ones, as well as some tips on how to motivate and manage them: 

Technically minded, methodical, passive workers

These individuals respond best to clear, concise communication and often choose to ask questions or receive task-related information via email versus interfacing. They’re private people who favor predictability. Give them as much warning as possible of changes or due dates. Avoid rushing them. Stay available to provide direction; work them into a routine; and appreciate their inclination to think logically, cautiously and realistically.

 Fast paced, highly sociable, easygoing workers

Variety in their day, an upbeat animated boss and readily attainable objectives should keep these personalities satisfied and loyal. When a task calls for someone who likes talking to people and keeping busy they will take it on readily. Keep them in low-pressure situations. Give tedious, numbers-based tasks to someone else. Use their diplomacy skills to your advantage in jobs like hospitality, reception, public relations, human relations or creative advertising.

 Competitive, authoritative, self-directing workers

People who display a large measure of self-confidence and drive might seem hard to control in secondary roles, but they often find their niche in sales or management. Typically creative and bold, they value incentives, want to give their opinions, and enjoy challenges. Try not to dictate to them after the fact. One secret to harnessing the power of these leadership personalities lies in partnering with them, eliciting their views and making them feel they have an important say in many work-related matters.

Managing becomes much easier once you know which motivational strategies work best for which employees. And you must be willing to vary your approach – at least to some degree. Some people respond best when given clearly defined objectives, specific instructions and frequent feedback regarding their job performance. Expecting them to work with minimal oversight and jump into situations is unrealistic, and bound to lead to mutual frustration and resentment.

Conversely, there are likely others on your team who expect from you quite the opposite! These less-structured workers want general overviews and then some freedom to make independent decisions, approach a task from their own unique perspective. Requiring adherence to very strict procedures or micromanaging them dilutes their creativity and almost always breeds underlying performance-hindering malcontent.

Keying into the management style that is most effective on each individual has another advantage: it enables you to communicate in a way that your subordinate will understand. It’s a time saver. For example, once you know that your newest hire is on the reserved side, fact-oriented and analytical; you can feel free to get right to the point when speaking and do so in a businesslike, straightforward fashion. Save your anecdotes and more casual conversations for someone else. 

When difficulties, challenges and disagreements are prevalent at a dealership, employees and employers often blame one another. A manager might wonder when his subordinate will start to live up to expectations, while that same subordinate may simply label the boss “a loser” and start looking for another job. Without question, there are times when two people just clash and there is nothing that can rectify the situation. Indeed, there may be such a bad fit, so little job or environmental compatibility that termination becomes the only option. 

However, in other cases, it may be that the reason we can’t stand working with someone is really because we haven’t taken the time to understand the person. The truth is that there are actions you, as a manager, can take -- techniques you are free to adopt and apply that will make your job far less stressful.

Knowing more about the predictable behaviors of your team makes it easier to devise succession plans; strategize; hire; promote; coach; and pinpoint where, when and how your employee investments can make the greatest difference. Developing your dealership’s staff should be the top priority, but it’s one that can be either bothersome or rewarding, depending on how willing you are to learn why your workers do the things they do.

About the author:  Carletta Neal, a popular seminar speaker, is a Senior Consultant with The Omnia Group.  She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. For more information about her services call Carletta at: 800-525-7117 x226

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group. She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. For more information about employee behavioral assessments, call Carletta at 813-280-3026 or email:

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