Best Practices

What happens if you get hit by a bus?

Do you have a replacement strategy for your job?  Or have you been like me, and have just been too busy to bother with it?  Now that I am changing positions, I am having to train my replacements and it is incredibly enlightening.  I highly suggest you have someone sit next to you and explain what you do in an elementary fashion while that person writes it all down.

A few pieces of the training have been done with my boss present.  As I have been the lead for everything Internet at Checkered Flag over the last 9 years, my boss has placed a lot of trust in me.  I made connections in reports that I never needed to explain to him – I’d just say something like “with the stats from our website being up and the increased number of leads, I was shocked to see how low the sales were at Honda this month.”  He’d take that simple statement and get to work on the Honda store.  Now I am showing him how I made these connections, and really explaining the nitty gritty, and, as a team, we are now making even more connections.  In this regard, we’ve made new discoveries and come across new ideas.

Putting things in basic terms has also better defined and educated people as to what I do as an eCommerce Director.  I think it has helped to close the gap between what I think the position is worth and what my boss thought it was worth.  Not sure that’s an absolute guarantee if you’re reading “pay raise” into that statement, but definitely worth a try!

We all have multiple systems and most of these systems do not speak to one another.  As the Internet Sales Manager, eCommerce Director, Chief of Marketing, or whatever we are, we typically need to work in all of the various dealership systems.  It is only natural that we begin to make connections, form processes, and create spreadsheets that help to do our job better.  We can hold onto all of this in an attempt at job security, or we can help to protect our employer by making sure things can continue after we’re gone.  Who knows, you may even earn something extra along the way to their education.

What would happen to your employer if you were to leave?

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
  • D
    Drew Ament
  • May 21, 2010
Great point Alex. As a "boss" of people in the past, I have always had the attitude that I am training them for my (current) job. I think of myself more as a mentor, then a boss.

For the most part, this has done me well in my past endeavors. Like leaving for vacation was not a "do it all before you go" or a "catch-up when I get back". It has also allowed me to see the growth potential of the people I would manage, and the different ways the same "job" could be done (sometimes we are so narrow minded).
  • R
    Richard Valenta
  • May 21, 2010
Protecting your employer makes you more valuable. When your employer is in the dark, they don't truly see the value you add as an employee. Especially when you are in charge of a big part of their revenue stream.

Those that are exceptional employees would never take this route as they know what their value is. Those that subscribe to the notion that they have job security by keeping things close to the vest probably prescribe to the peter principal which will ultimately be their downfall.

Simply put, if they feel they have to protect their job by "We can hold onto all of this in an attempt at job security" then maybe they don't belong in the position in the first place.
  • R
    Richard Valenta
  • May 21, 2010
I forgot to say kudos to Alex for taking care of his employer prior to leaving. A real class act!
  • L
    Lori Finney
  • May 22, 2010
It should always be a pleasant experience when try to provide a list or description who what we do. However, I think human nature gets the best of us we think it either won't be enough or it could be used against us.

If most Internet or ECommerce managers could truly write down or even train everything they do, I think most owners would be amazed and probably confused if they tried to read all of it.

This is very good point. Many of us keep passwords to lead sources, back-end tools, crm administration rules lots of things.

I find trying to explain what I do is often harder than just sitting down and getting the work done.... but I sometimes need to learn to train and delegate.
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • May 22, 2010
Enjoyed the post Alex. I too have been here a few times before and each time was an interesting experience.

"We can hold onto all of this in an attempt at job security, or we can help to protect our employer by making sure things can continue after we’re gone"

I came to the conclusion (as Drew points out) that it's beneficial to consistently train and educate others.

Many of us would rather not take that route, only hoping to build security around their position.

Richard I agree - when you include others in what you do, your value becomes more obvious. I would rather involve everyone. Even something as simple as the CC field. It's very rare I don't send an email out without someone else added if its at all relevant  to that person and their position.  

I just stepped into a position where the former person that was in charge of the "Internet" for one of the several dealers I'm overseeing kept everything close to themselves. No one understood what they did day in and day out. There was obviously not much involvement with managers. However, let's be real - we are only human and after so long of managers NOT wanting to understand, most people eventually give up. Don't give up! Keep pushing forward, keep involving everyone in what you do no matter how much you think you are not getting through their thick skull.       

Another element of this, is allowing yourself to move forward. If you can train others to do what you do, it's easier to clear your plate to take on new projects. Most dealers are full of people that you can leverage and train to do different things. You just need to be willing to seek them out.

Example: My Benz dealer is on the IMN newsletter service. They were signed up prior to me coming on-board. Up until now they were sending out the newsletter with the prefilled generic articles. You're crazy if you think I'm going to be the one to write the articles for the newsletter. I'll admit, I'm sure I could find an hour or two each month and get it done. Heck it would be easier than taking an accumulated 6 plus hours to train someone. But would it really? Once I have someone trained on this and I have them taking ownership of it, after awhile all I need to do is check in on it from time to time and manage the process.

Process is the key - Map it out, step by step from the beginning, if and when someone/you would leave you can hand the next person the process manual.

Also - leverage your vendors for training and/or process manuals.
Knowledge is power and shared knowledge is even more power.
Great post Alex.

I've never had this position so maybe these aren't the best questions but it's what I'd ask if someone were to be replacing me.

1. Where's your blog?

2. Who are you subscribing to in your RSS reader?

3. How are you tracking conversions on the dealers website?

4. What are customers saying about you, DealerRater, etc?

5. What tasks will you not do?

6. If you had someone slamming your dealer in a forum, what would you do about it?

7. What do I need to provide to you in order to be successful?

8. What online tools for collaboration have you used?

9. Can you see at least 5 things that should be fixed on our website?

10. What's the most original and successful social media strategy you've seen and would you do it?

Based on the answers I'd know the following:

1. Understands that a blog will give me instant insight into how this person thinks.

2. Who they're subscribing to would tell me what they know and where they're going.

3. Technically speaking they should know how many leads a site is getting from Google analytics.

4. Second to a blog (where relationships are built) this should tell me if they care about what others are saying.

5. This will tell me if they've been able to delegate wisely.

6. These can almost always be avoided by assuring the customer is happy and all their concerns have been met and handled.

7. Laptops, iPads, iPhones, Video cameras, etc.

8. Is familiar with and seeks great time saving applications.

9. Can check for things and understand the UX, site performance, etc.

10. Can they think outside the box, be different and suggest original ideas that could be huge wins.