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Grow Your Staff to Eliminate Management Stress

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Royce King runs a six-dealership operation as the director of parts for Shaheen Chevrolet Automotive Group, with roughly 70 employees making up his parts department. He’s always looking for ways to improve the department, and, in fact, is currently looking to add more team members to his department.

“Stress has never bothered me,” King says. “The more that’s going on, the better that I perform—I call it ‘controlled chaos.’”

Although he has his team down today, his department wasn’t as successful when he initially became parts department manager of Shaheen Chevrolet in Lansing, Mich. In fact, his staff size was too small.

“They had one guy try to run our retail side, one guy try to run our wholesale side,” King says. “It was OK, but they were successful in spite of themselves; they just couldn’t keep up for what I needed to do, and they couldn’t keep up with the growth I was trying to push.

“The smallest growth year was a 30 percent growth and they couldn’t keep up.”

A veteran who was used to working long periods in a row on duty, he knew the size of the department was an issue for growth and would force him to put further strain on the staff that he was completely against: overworking.

“[There were] times I when I was deployed and I was on duty for three weeks straight,” King says. “I’ve seen what you did for military life and I said I would never do that for anybody that works for me.”

King took a step back and evaluated what he could do as a manager that would not only help his department, but further distribute department responsibilities to create a team environment that he could rely on, as well.

 

Creating Additional Roles

To further alleviate responsibilities between the different sections of the parts department, King decided to hire a new role to the mix: an assistant manager. The position was  intended to create leaders among his crew, and when you have leaders, you can form a team, King says.

“I saw a need for an assistant manager,” he says. “We started out by hiring the assistant managers; we hired an assistant manager to help the wholesale out—we only hired a couple wholesale managers, [we] have two assistant managers, a warehouse manager, [and we’re] in the process of hiring an inventory manager inventory manager—that was done within 2–3 years.”

King focused on the mindset that his employees should not work longer than 40 hours, and if they were, he knew that was an indicator that either he needed to add more staff or they didn’t work efficiently.

“You can’t grow without the staff; you have to have the right staff or you’re not going anywhere,” he says.

 

Taking Care of Employees

The dealership’s family-oriented mentality further pushed King to ensure that he was taking care of his employees, he says. The choice eased tension for King, and, ultimately, allowed his department to expand.

As the department has grown, adding additional roles each year, he doesn’t fear that his staff is wandering in the wrong direction or not understanding his goal for the department.

“The bigger thing is that the managers are learning and they’re trying to learn what I know,” King says. “So, they are pushing things more than I’ve ever expected them to do.

“The benefit to me is, even though I really do have a large staff, they are looking at the same things I look at, and it’s kind of like a Walt Disney experience where I’ve got all of my managers bought into my ideas and they’re the ones responsible for the things that we do.”

Management is trained within the first year working for the company, he says.

“After about six months of training and going through courses that I put them through, I don’t even worry about them anymore,” King says.

The environment with a larger staff is positive, he says.

“I don’t have to yell, I don’t have to scream,” King says. “It’s pretty much working and our volume says how much it’s working—you can’t micromanage them, or you start losing them.”

When new positions are brought into the department, he is confident that his managers will take the rein and lead the team. However, he makes a point to check in with managers to ensure that his processes are divvied out correctly to new team members.

“I see [managers] everyday,” King says. “Every day, I try to see every one of them or talk to every one of them; if you’ve got a good manager and that manager’s working underneath you, they’re going to work underneath themselves [and] sometimes they just need a point in the right direction.”

 

Maintaining Growth

Since growing the team, the success of the parts department has grown tremendously.

“Last year alone, our year-over-year grew by $8.5 million,” King says.

In addition to sales growth, the department has a staff that takes pride in their work, King says.

“The average tenure, right now, for my parts department right now is 17 years,” he says. “They don’t leave here; they like it here. I’ve got people here that have been selling parts and wholesale for 20 years.

“If you treat them right and train them right, they’re going to stay.”

 

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