Managers or Minos?


MANAGER – mánn-ij-er (noun): Someone responsible for directing and controlling the work and staff of a business, or of a department within it
MINO – my-know (acronym): Manager-in-name-only. Someone with a manager title but without the empowerment, responsibility or accountability of a true manager

One of the questions I ask students attending my management workshops is; “How many of you have a budget for your department?” Sadly, very few of them raise their hands. In addition, most of the managers admit they don’t have the authority to hire or fire the staff for their department.

Surprisingly, most of these managers come from relatively high-level dealership operations. Many of their dealerships are members of 20-groups – dealerships I would expect to utilize more advanced business management techniques than the majority of dealers. However, that is not the case.

Outside of our industry, typical business operations consider budgeting and personnel management to be key functions of their managers. Without these responsibilities, it is simply not reasonable (or fair) to hold managers accountable for the performance and profitability of their departments.

Unless they have a budget, managers can’t make appropriate decisions on marketing, purchasing supplies, displays or equipment. They won’t know if they can afford to hire additional staff or change compensation plans. Instead, they have to go to the owner for all these decisions. What’s the point of having managers if they don’t have the ability to make basic management decisions?

Here’s a classic example of the frustration of being a non-empowered manager: I know a sales manager who is responsible for the performance of eight salespeople. The owner constantly pressures her to improve sales. Several members of the team are chronic under-performers who should have been invited to change careers, but she doesn’t have the authority to fire them. Worse, the staff knows that the owner “never fires anybody.” Therefore, there is no fear of losing their job. This sales manager is being held accountable for something she cannot control.

Consider this: Unless they are empowered, most good managers will look for another job. If you have personnel who have the skill-set necessary for being true managers but they are not being empowered to manage, consider implementing some changes. Work with them to develop a department budget. Give them more flexibility in controlling their personnel. Hold them accountable for achieving your specific goals for their department. Learn how to work ON your business, not IN it. In the end, your dealership will operate more efficiently and profitably and you can take the time to enjoy life more. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

If you want information about management training or dealer on-site services, email me at [email protected].

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:  This article was previously published in my Powersports Business Magazine column.