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Are You Trainin Your Replaement?

Posted by John Fuhrman on September 2, 2011 at 10:25 AM

In 1982 I had the biggest blessing ever in the car business. "Bruce" hired me as a sales person. Bruce was the GM of a small Ford store in NJ and I was still finding my way around the business. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to be a sales manager. At that time, I couldn't tell a good one from a bad one but I still wanted to be one.


From the very first day I hit the floor, Bruce was active in helping me on my quest. He explained everything on every deal and then sent me back in to be with the customer. If I didn't do exactly as he told me to (usually out of fear for what the customer might say), he would send me right back in there with exactly the same information. And he told me not to come back unless I did what he said. He taught me to be creative and use my imagination to see into the customer's mind.


Soon, the dealer was getting some heat from the factory about adding rentals to his fleet (which consisted of 0 cars). He went to Bruce about this "rental thing" and Bruce told him to give it to me. I was still selling cars but for an extra $75 a week plus a piece of the rental profits, I took the "promotion." As soon as I said "yes," Bruce was asking me how I planned on renting the cars. I had no idea. So, he tossed me a phone book and asked me who in the book would rent cars.


Within a month I had all 4 of my rentals on the road nearly every day. The department was profitable from the very first month. I believe my first "bonus" was around $62.00. But, I was in management. And, in my mind, on my way to the top. Then, the dealer decided to get into the fleet business and somehow he felt it was perfectly related to rentals. But Bruce was right there making sure I was pointed in the right direction. A few months later, I sold a fleet of 205 LTD ll's (Remember them?) to one company.


As soon as that order came in, Ford began pushing its Red Carpet Leasing program and guess who got to take it on? Because of Bruce I was able to tell the dealer that I would do it if I was the only one involved with the leasing process. Most of the dealers at that time thought leasing was just a passing fad. I wasn't smart enough to know one way or the other but I took the assignment for all it was worth. Ultimately, I appeared on a major radio show in New York City and the phone was ringing off the hook. That next month I leased as many new cars as the restof the dealership sold retail.


When word of this reached other dealers in the zone, I started getting my wish. I was being asked to be a manager for a few dealers. I talked to Bruce and was kind of surprised at how he seemed eager to push me away. I asked him how he could afford to let me go after all the work he did. His answer shaped how I managed for the rest of my time in retail and continues now in the running of my company.


He told me that he treated everyone in the dealership exactly the same. Each person was in Bruce's training program from the very beginning. The difference was in who took the training and did something with it. Those who did, prospered. Those who didn't somehow faded away. But, no matter which catagory you fell into, Bruce continued as if each person was his top trainee.


He also told me this. "Whether you think you're training your replacement or not, you are." And you will be judged accordingly. Ignore your people's potential for improvement and the results will soon reach that level of commitment. Treat everyone as if they will be massively successful and the results will blow you away.


John Fuhrman is the Senior National Trainer for Carolina Automotive Resource Services, a unit of The Dealer Resource Group. His ten books have reached 1.5 million readers and he has trained sales professionals around the world. Check out our new ADVERTISING ONLY package for small dealers or dealers who want to train their own people. When your dealership needs amazing results hiring new people, visit . ATTENTION DEALERS: VISIT OUR WEB SITE AND REGISTER TO KEEP UP ON MONTHLY TRAINING SAVING SPECIALS. Our trainers are ready to show you our "WOW!" factor. (c)2011 by John Fuhrman - Permission to reprint this post in its entirety, including contact information, is hereby granted.

Categories: Dealer Operations, Sales and Sales Training, Sales Management & F&I

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