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Managers: Get on that showroom floor

September 29, 2003
Filed under Archives

Important Rule: Sales managers should personally monitor the showroom floor at least 80% of the time.
As a consultant, I was asked to perform a needs-assessment assignment at a store in a downtown, metropolitan city. The dealer was losing money.
The problem was obvious. The sales manager’s office was upstairs, at the end of the hallway. It was completely inaccessible to the action on the showroom floor.
The first solution (to help stop losing money) was to move the sales manager’s desk and put it down on the showroom floor and at the front door. Guess what happened? The dealer moved the desk near the front door and within a month the dealership became profitable.
Too much paperwork?
Unfortunately, many sales managers believe that monitoring the floor 80% of the time is unrealistic. They complain, “I have way too much paperwork.” Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.
One time as a sales manager, I was sitting behind my desk checking sales documents. One of my salespeople brought me a deal. I can remember thinking, “Not another interruption.”
Clearly, my frame of mind was all screwed up when I interpreted a deal as being an interruption. This can happen to any sales manager from time to time.
So, I decided to keep a written record of every task I did. After documenting two weeks of activities, I took the list to the dealer principal. I said, “Mr. Dealer, here is how I spent the last two weeks. I will be happy to do anything you ask me to do. However, were you aware that this is how I am spending my time as your sales manager?”
My dealer reviewed the record item by item. He could see that I was spending more time inundated with paperwork than I was with my salespeople. I did not have the time to be on the floor 80% of the time, to meet with my salespeople each day, or to set sales objectives at the beginning of the month.
Therefore, I didn’t have time to be as effective as I could be. This ineffectiveness was costing the dealer significant profits. It was costing me significant personal income.
So we made some changes. The back office assumed some of my administrative duties. Even the business (F&I) manager agreed to take some of the paperwork load.
My dealer realized that he was not getting his money’s worth when I was buried in mountains of paper. In other words, he was paying me to do things other people could do. By redistributing the duties and responsibilities he could free me up to do what I was hired to do — lead the Sales Department to new and higher levels of success.
Being involved with sales
As sales managers we must be clear-headed and deeply involved with each and every salesperson’s deal. That doesn’t mean sitting there just working deals. That means if you have to tie things down, or you have to pick up a hundred dollars, you are prepared to go in and close the customer.
Remember, a new face works! But you can’t be a “new face” if you are a paper shuffler.
There are cases where some sales managers want to hide behind the paperwork. They get afflicted with manager-itis. They want to just sit there behind their desks and call all the shots. Be careful of that.
GET on that showroom floor! BE on that floor! And STAY on that floor so you know what’s happening. And if you can’t get out from under the paperwork, move your desk out to the showroom floor. Do your paperwork on the showroom floor if you have to.
Try it. Your salespeople will love you for it. And you will definitely see an improvement with your sales volume and gross profits.

Next Time: Closing more deals

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