No matter how successful your dealership has performed every year, it is best to reevaluate your goals for the year to come. Even the best can get better, and there is always room for growth. Trends and technology tend to change, and consumer expectations grow, and so does the competition! Understand, when you come up with an idea; there is potential that someone may already have that idea as well. Think of what will set your operation apart from others. Think like a consumer. What makes you enjoy your shopping experience, and what would you like to see more of? What do you experience in retail and customer service environments that you would prefer NOT to see in your dealership?
The blueprint you want to start mapping out your plans for 2020 should include:
Comments Off on It’s no Holiday when employees’ responsibilities are limited to one individual.
By Phil Villegas
I’ve noticed certain reoccurring patterns in many of the dealerships I’ve had the opportunity to visit. There always seems to be that one particular, heavily relied upon individual who tackles certain tasks. No one else would even dare to complete the tasks and responsibilities of this individual if they went on vacation. Instead, they would opt to let the work sit and wait for the employee to return. While under many occasions this can be completely innocent with no ill will, more often than not, there can be major risks associated with this. Many of the cases of embezzlements I’ve encountered have often been linked to job responsibilities that are specific to one employee. The dealer’s losses become compounded and can extend for longer periods of time because no one checked or picked up the tasks of this individual.
We discovered an instance of this during one of our internal audits. A [...]
Comments Off on Do you provide the right tools to help your employees succeed?
By Courtney Becton
“The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence.” In other words, an employee is promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.” Wikipedia contributors. (2019, October 17). Peter principle. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:09, November 5, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Peter_principle&oldid=921730712
In the automotive industry, where the turnover rate can be higher than desirable, one of the most critical functions of a dealership relies on the Controller. It is too often we see Office Managers or Controllers discharged or resign from their position due to lack of preparedness, incorrect skill set, lack of caring, or worse. Unfortunately for some, in a place of hierarchy, they may have been promoted to that position from [...]
Comments Off on Charging Market Rent on Your Dealership Can Save You Money and Prevent Unwanted Surprises!
By Phil Villegas
More often than not we come across stores that are showing rent expense that is far below what the dealership would pay in the open market. For the most part, this happens because the rent has not been reviewed or adjusted for many years.
However, with increasing industry and commercial property values in many areas, we recommend adjusting the rent charged to your dealerships to market. This may actually save you money in stores where the General Manager, Controller or other personnel have a pay-plan component that is based off of the bottom line. Having the proper rent amount also provides for a financial statement that is reflective of the current market. We have seen dealers severely disappointed when selling their stores to find out their perceived profitability dropped because of a market rent adjustment.
An easy way to determine fair market rent is to take [...]
Comments Off on Creative customer discounts – good for the customer, bad for the dealership.
By Marilou Vroman, CPA, CFE
They say pay plans motivate behavior. In dealerships, this is often true but unfortunately, the behavior that is motivated could put the store at risk. Specifically, the behavior we are referring to today is the practice of “creative discounting”.
Dealership personnel who are responsible for generating sales will typically be motivated to keep gross as high as possible since their pay is often based on a percentage of gross profit. At times, the pressure on departmental or individual performance is so great, employees may seek alternative methods to creatively discount a sale without adversely impacting gross profit and hence, their pay.
For example, a retail vehicle sale could be discounted without impacting gross by removing other amounts that are typically to be collected at the time the sale. Sales tax is often one of the largest amounts collected, and the tax rate could either be reduced or removed from the [...]
Comments Off on Mid-Month Schedule and Operational Reports Check
By Phil Villegas
Our firm is in the business of internal controls, which in essence is the safeguarding our dealer’s assets. When we evaluate the internal controls of dealerships, we are primarily looking for weakness in the system that can lead to the dealership losing some of its assets, i.e., cash/profitability.
Internal controls at a dealership are not difficult, a little bit of common sense along with utilization of the DMS’ resources go a long way in safeguarding the dealership’s assets. Dealership internal controls are less about having a written and detailed list of operating procedures and more about having good oversight. When we encounter breakdowns in a store’s internal controls during our testing, it’s typically not because there wasn’t a system or process in place, but rather we find the breakdown is a human one. Individuals failing to do their job is not only the most common reason why internal controls break down, it [...]
Comments Off on Hidden Secrets in your Work in Process
By Marilou Vroman, CPA, CFE
As we approach the year end it’s a perfect time to clean up the books and make final adjustments to the dealership P&L and Balance Sheet. While most of the focus traditionally is what is on the books, extra care should be taken to uncover what is not yet on the books and should be.
As part of our internal audits we typically will review reports of service work in process. Why are these reports so important? In a perfect world, these reports contain transactions from the service department or body shop which are not yet complete. In other words, there is additional labor to be performed or parts to be installed to complete the repair. Technicians are often paid for their time as accumulated on the repair order and the associated labor and parts sales, gross, and receivable are ultimately recorded when the repair order is closed. This is [...]
Comments Off on When Buying a Dealership, have Seller “Add-backs” Properly Reviewed
By Phil Villegas
For the past 15 plus years, a fair amount of the work I’ve personally been involved with relates to dealership buy/sells of all makes and sizes. Despite the size of the transaction, nearly all of these will have either a well-documented or loosely implied list of seller’s “Add-backs”. Add-backs are suggested adjustments to a dealership’s reported profit, essentially as the word states, add-back to profit to arrive at the dealership’s true earnings. The spirit of most add-backs is to account for and eliminate non-operational or unusual expenses that a new buyer would likely not have to incur going forward.
Add-backs can cover a wide range of topics, from compensation, advertising, tax, legal, travel and entertainment, unrecorded income, data processing, etc. All these add-backs are disclosed with the end goal to recast the dealer’s financial statement, and ultimately, improve the appearance of the dealerships’ profitability to make the financial prospect of acquiring the [...]
Comments Off on The 13th Month – What the automotive dealer needs to know
By Marilou C. Vroman, CPA, CFE
As the weather begins to cool, the days grow shorter, and the leaves begin to change, we start to sense the nearness of another year coming to an end. With the fourth quarter upon us, it is time to shine and bring in a strong finish to our dealerships both operationally and financially, with final push coming in the month of December, generating record sales. While dealers both desire and expect to show strong performance at year end, it is also a time for some dealers to attempt to minimize their taxable income through appropriate tax strategies, typically recognized in the financials at year end. As we know, dealers produce twelve monthly financials from January through December. What on earth is a 13th month statement? For those unfamiliar with the 13th month, this [...]
Comments Off on Great Leadership is Based on a Foundation of Respect and Not Intimidation
By Phil Villegas
It may be a byproduct of getting older, or perhaps having less disposable time, which in turn may be the root cause of getting grumpier, but I am finding that I am having less patience with people who simply are not professionals or carry themselves as such. I’m particularly more frustrated by the lack of professionalism and general courtesy at the highest ranks of many dealership groups with such as their general managers, controllers and at times, even the owners.
I’ve witnessed these types of disrespectful and unprofessional individuals throughout my entire career, I always chalked this up to a “different management style” or “cultural differences” within the dealership. Over the years I never spent too much time reflecting on the individual merits of these individuals or their behavior in their stores; at least not until [...]