By Laura Cronin 05 Jul 2022 3 min read

5 Behind-the-Scenes Duties You'll Take on as General Manager

Becoming the general manager at a dealership is a significant accomplishment. You’ve worked hard and dedicated yourself to the business to earn this position, so you’ll want to make the most of it.

As fulfilling an experience as managing a dealership can be, it’s far from easy. You should go into this role understanding all the tasks ahead of you so you can run the business effectively. In that spirit, here are five behind-the-scenes duties you’ll take on as a general manager.

1: Setting Dealership Goals and Strategies

As general manager, you’ll be in charge of the dealership’s direction. Consequently, you’ll evaluate where you stand as a company and use that insight to set monthly, annual and long-term goals and strategies to meet them.

Keep in mind that this planning applies to more than just sales. Aftermarket services and parts account for 49.6% of gross profits on average, so your strategies should also include service-related changes. Determining these goals and effective paths toward them will require substantial business acumen and analytical skills, so be prepared for that.

2: Managing Finances

Relatedly, dealership general managers must also manage the company’s finances. On top of setting goals and strategies, you’ll need to determine budgets to sustain profits and ensure growth. These decisions will help direct revenue goals, hiring practises, ordering and more.

As a manager, you’ll decide how to divide funds between advertising, inventory, insurance, salaries and more. Similarly, you’ll approve or deny sales contracts and look for new business opportunities to increase revenue or profits. Prepare for some difficult decisions in this area, as conflict may arise during slumps.

3: Managing Inventory

One part of managing a dealership that many people don’t think about is handling the inventory. You’ll have to decide:

  • When to order new vehicles and parts
  • What to order
  • How much to get
  • How to organise and preserve the lot

On the surface, these decisions require regularly assessing stock levels, budgets and sales patterns. You should also consider broader supply chain issues, as disruptions with suppliers and logistics partners can heavily affect your inventory levels. Thankfully, there are plenty of supply chain educational resources available you can use to learn more about these considerations.

4: Handle Workforce Issues

General managers are the captain of the ship, which means you’ll direct your crew. You’ll be the final authority for all other employees in the workspace, so it falls to you to ensure they’re motivated, engaged, productive and satisfied.

Some of the biggest considerations in this area are managing salaries and benefits. You want to ensure you pay people well to attract and retain workers, but you also want to stay within budget. You’ll also be in charge of initiatives to improve productivity or engagement, as well as working with HR to maintain a positive work environment.

5: Analysing the Market

While many general manager duties focus on internal company operations, you’ll also have to look outwardly. To run a successful dealership, you’ll have to respond to changing markets. That means keeping pace with shifting customer demands, competitor pricing, consumer sentiment and spending habits.

You may have to alter inventories or sales strategies as markets evolve. As sustainability becomes a significant concern and EV conversions become more popular, you may try to get and sell more eco-friendly vehicles. Alternatively, you could rethink financing strategies if consumers start spending less on big purchases.

Understand Your New Responsibilities

Being a general manager at a dealership comes with many new responsibilities. If you know what to expect from these, you can approach them confidently and steer your business in the right direction.

These five behind-the-scenes duties aren’t all you’ll have to do, but they’re some of management's most important but overlookable aspects. As you step into your new role, remember these responsibilities to manage your dealership effectively.