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Where have all the good people gone?

I know the first thing that this headline is going to suggest is that there are only bad people left. This is not the intent or subject of this article but more so to reflect on why there is a definitive limitation on who is left in this industry and those that are choosing to enter.

When I displayed my first interest in automobiles I never know I would spend nearly my entire career in the industry or how it would effect me throughout all my business ventures as I was only a child. Fast forwarding a decade, my interest grew, my knowledge was vast and I had adults asking me for advice with their purchases. Funny enough I didn't even have a driver's license yet. Once I did, I was off to the races so to speak, I entered the industry at the most rudimentary position, a lot attendant. Still I had yet to choose the industry as a career.

Moving forward at nineteen I entered the fray in as a professional sales person. What did that mean? I had a desk, a phone and cars to sell. I didn't have a mentor, training, or any preparation on what to do. It was a learn as you go situation. It was a sink or swim proposition and I swam like Michael Phelps. I proved to be a natural. I didn't know what it took but I shined. The sales came in and it seemed that I could do no wrong, but I did. I overestimated my skills for the position and the location.

I came to the conclusion that with my success I needed a bigger dealership to grow my skills and success. This is where I met my first mentor in the business, Doug Turner. Doug was an old fashioned car guy. No B.S. from him, earlier in his career he was a Police Officer when Toronto was a tough city, he had earned his chops there but decided to pursue his desires in the same industry that had joined. Lucky for me and better yet I got to work with him. He believed that the business was all about the customers for without their satisfaction you would fail. He showed me what it took to be customer centric and how that brought success. He showed that to be focused on your client you had no time-clock and provided a connection that would become a bond to which I will describe later. Unfortunately, like I said I made a mistake to leave my first position but it gave me the benefit of meeting Doug so all was not lost when I moved on.

Next was not one but collection of amazing people at Toyota. They were the first to show what leadership was, how training influenced decisions and mentorship through creative storytelling. My manager was the first person I looked up to in this business. He was well dressed, eloquent and he had the answer to everything. He was god-like to me. I wanted to be him. His boss the General Manager was even better, a true English gentleman, that had kindness in his eyes and empathy in his heart as no matter the situation he related to everything that was brought to him. Yet better than that, were the owners. Two brothers, that truly led their team of employees. In times of good they celebrated the success equally amongst everyone. In times of dispair, they were there share the burden whether corporately of personally. You were family and family stuck together. This was my first corporate experience of a true team and how powerful it was. We stood together, we competed together and together we created success for all.

Down the road I moved to a luxury/premium brand and met three brothers that would change my life. They build their own brand with the moniker "The business that service built". It was all about customer service for them, if you provided the best there would be no reason for your client to move to another dealership. Price didn't sell cars the clients experience with the company as a whole did. My Dealer Principal, displayed to me the proper way of introducing a prospect to the brand, how to build excitement, create the path to the sale and retain them for years to come. His ability to command attention when it came to the brand was incredible. It wasn't just selling the sizzle not the steak as he many times said but to show why they chose the restaurant, the waiter, the sommelier, the chef and even the bus boy. It was all about the experience. I would continue this thought process for years to come right back to rejoin the company a decade later after leaving to head up a few management positions.

In my first position as a Manager, found the toughest Dealer Principal I ever worked for Peter, deVerteil, he like Doug was an old school car guy but unlike Doug he grew up in the business. He started like me in his teens and succeeded over time to own several dealerships through hard work and perseverance. Peter was a dictator, a monster for perfection, yet he was a fair and generous man. He would demand the best, work you to the bone, pay handsomely, and give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He sent me overseas for training, he opened up opportunities for me that never were presented and he encouraged me to always go after everything I could. He was the first to congratulate me on success and never challenged my failures only helped me to analyse the losses. When I left for a greater opportunity he congratulated me and offered an open door for me to return at anytime,

Now, looking back at these great people in the industry they all had a common goal success. They took different paths yet they achieved it. All looked to their staff as their support in getting there. They combined work ethic, customer service, empathy, knowledge, endurance, training and mentorship to develop their teams and individuals underneath their leadership. As such this is reflective on those who have worked for these great influencers and how we must as today's leaders show those who are entering the industry today the right path.

So, please when you meet that individual that is choosing to enter our oh so exciting and challenging industry inform them of the highs, the lows, and the true reason why it is my humble opinion the greatest industry of all. It's an industry where anyone can succeed with hard work, perseverance and the right career path plan. It offers a diverse employment structure, income is never capped, unlimited training and mentorship at all levels. Welcome all who show that desire to learn and are dedicated to engage in the necessary processes to lead them to success. Be one of the people I described above.

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