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7 Habits of Completely Useless Managers

Courtesy of Brad Alexander

Due to the overwhelming response to “The 7 Habits of Largely Ineffective Salespeople” I was compelled to write a follow up piece on Sales Managers. These 7 habits will be beneficial to those already in a management role as well as those aspiring to become to be managers. If you are a ‘Largely Ineffective Salesperson’ these additional habits will put you on the fast track to the abyss of poor management techniques. Those who are already employed as managers should prepare to take their game to the next level:  Complete Uselessness. Once again, a great deal of study, research and observation has gone into the preparation of these management level habits. When applied properly these concepts can propel your career into absolute ineptitude. So read carefully, focus and act on the slothful impulses that motivate your lack of motivation.

Habit 1:   Move Your Feet, Lose Your Seat:

It is a well-known fact that if you get up from your seat there is a distinct possibility that someone else may sit there. If your boss sees someone else in that spot he or she may get the idea that the other person looks better there than you do. Bad career move. Don’t get out of that seat for anything! Ever. Make sure you are in that chair behind the desk every moment the GM or Dealer Principal is at the store. Some of the most Useless Managers actually wear adult diapers a.k.a. Lisa Nowak the love-scorned astronaut. A rare few go to the lengths of colostomy bags. This ensures total commitment to the desk. They don’t call you a Desk Manager for nothing! Salespeople will ask you to come talk to their customers. Don’t do it, it’s a trap! They probably want your job or are attempting to distract you so one of their friends can sit at the desk and assume the position. Your best bet in this situation is to challenge his/her closing ability. “Are you really that weak?” “You need me to close your deal?” Have a disgusted look on your face like the one you had on your face when the pizza delivery guy dropped of your pie and they didn’t double the sausage, pepperoni, ham, bacon and ground beef! Or like the time in Jr. High when you played spin the bottle in the dark and you leaned in and planted an open mouth kiss on your friend’s dog’s butt. Have that expression on your face when you tell your sales rep that you’re going to cut him/her up on the deal and get a real salesperson to close it. It’s extra effective when you page for a green-pea at this moment. If another salesperson goes in on the deal you (the manager) make sure you give up all the gross right away. This way the deal should get closed. Accomplishing a few things:  1) Get a car deal  2) Underscore the weakness of the original salesperson to prevent them from ever soliciting your help again and  3) You never left your seat. That my friends is what I like to call the tri-fecta! They will eventually get the hint that they should be closing their own deals just like you. You never had a manager come close a deal for you did you? Of course not, you would have been embarrassed to even ask.

Habit 2:   Begin With You in Mind:

You should remind yourself often that “It’s all about me.” Keep in mind that when you think this way, you are really looking out for the greater good; namely, you, your paycheck and your deal average. It’s always good to walk a deal if the gross is going to drop your average close to or below acceptable levels. Sure that may be one of only a few deals a particular sales rep will be paid on. Don’t let that play on your sympathy. Stay strong. If that salesperson had maybe sold some value in the car perhaps they could have had a deal but don’t let their weakness lower your numbers. Remember the company needs you more than they need that weak kneed salesperson anyway. I mean, who would punch the stock number into the computer and print or write out the pencil if you weren’t there? Besides that swivel chair is form fitted to your oft expanded posterior thanks to a strong focus on Habit #1. An added tip here: If a salesperson from another crew asks for your assistance in penciling a deal and you won’t get credit for the deal, launch the customer. Tell the salesperson that his manager made a terrible mistake and there is no deal there. Remember, the most listened to radio station in the world is WII-FM (What’s In It For Me?). If you can find a way to scoop the deal and maintain or increase your gross average then it’s full speed ahead!

**Advanced Technique** For the individual seeking the highest (or lowest) level of Complete Uselessness and expressing your overtly selfish nature there is a Gifted Level Technique. Power Launching Ungrateful Customers. We have all worked hard to get customers approved for financing. Sometimes we have to press “Start” on the fax machine more than once. Occasionally we have to call the finance sources and use our amazing closing skills (C’mon dude, I’ll buy the first round tonight if you approve this one) to get a deal hung. Then when the customer realizes they can get financed they decide they’d like to look at other vehicles. The audacity of these ingrates! I witnessed first hand a masterful approach to this situation. A sales rep came down to the F&I office to tell both the Sales and F&I Managers that their customer whom was credit challenged, wanted to look at other cars now that they knew they could be approved. The Sales Manager sprung into action. “Tell them to get the *#@% out of my dealership and never *#@%&^! come back!” He screamed at the cowering salesperson. *Side note: You will always have more impact when you assume ownership “my dealership” or “my cars” etc. The Finance Manager told the salesperson that they would help them find another car (obviously the finance manager is NOT on the program) only to be shouted down by the disgusted Desk-Man. “Tell them never *#@#^&! come back!” Now that is strong! The only way to get stronger than that is in prescription strength. That Useless Manager was mortified after all that hard work, that a customer would actually want to be more specific and picky and try to get something she wanted. She was no longer content to take the one car the manager told her to buy. The one he could maximize gross profit on. So, if she doesn’t want that one, she can beat it. He certainly wasn’t going to work that hard for a smaller profit deal. He didn’t care that the sales rep had invested many hours with the customer and was willing to invest more to attempt to serve a client and get paid for his effort. No. This customer insulted a Completely Useless Manager. He became obstinate and indignant. Some may say that he cut off his nose to spite his face. A Completely Useless Manager would say, “I showed her! Next.”

Habit 3:   The Three D’s of Management:

This is vital and as basic as it comes when striving to become a Completely Useless Manager. The 3 D’s are as follows: Delegate it. You are too important to be involved in menial tasks like physical inventories, training and preparing ads. Get someone else to do it. If your real good at this one you can create a mindset of increased responsibility to the mouth breather to which you assign your “busy work”. Meanwhile you get to stay where you are needed most, at the desk. The second D is: Ditch it. Let’s be honest, many of the tasks the manufacturer and your GM assign to you are things they are delegating to you (they know the 3 D’s) because they don’t see them as important. You’ll be amazed at how much you can avoid by ditching it. The real eye opener is when nobody ever calls to follow up on that important report you were told to do. It was so important you never heard about it again! Occasionally your boss will end up doing the project you were supposed to do. How strong is that? You delegated up! The third D is to be used only in extreme cases and if all else fails: Do it. Don’t get frantic here. Again this is in extreme cases such as: you’ve heard your job may be on the line or if it’s possible you’re seen by the right person doing this task it could mean a bonus, pay raise, promotion or vacation package. Those are really the only times you want to step out and Do something. So, let’s review: Delegate it, Ditch it and if you absolutely, positively have no other alternative or it means large financial rewards; Do it.

Habit 4:    When the Going gets Tough, The Tough Call a Meeting:

Think about some of the world’s greatest struggles: World hunger, poverty, rising tensions in the Middle East, Brittany Spears’ career dropping faster than her prom dress and the Red Sox need for another solid right handed bat. What can be done? What are the solutions? Truth be told, nothing you or I do will make much difference in any of these crises. World hunger has been around forever; poverty; well let’s take care of paying our own bills shall we? The Middle East has been splintered since Ishmael had to leave the sandbox to make room for Isaac and will continue to be at war until God drops His hammer and settles things once and for all. The clock ran out on Brittany’s 15 minutes but she pulled the plug on the clock and is desperately trying to hold on; and the Red Sox missed the trade deadline and are fighting yet another late summer debacle. The answer to these and virtually all of life’s challenges is-have a meeting. I did not say this would solve anything. Just that it is the answer. I really think someone should have meetings about that stuff. I may call one myself. In our industry if sales are down, have a meeting; grosses are down, have a meeting; traffic is slow, have a meeting; sale are up, have a meeting; you got a big bonus, cancel the meeting. You’re probably too hung over from spending your bonus to attend a meeting. You get people together, have a box of day old doughnuts and some burnt coffee and you have the makings of a meeting. We can get together and discuss all the issues at hand. Brainstorm, vent and talk about the good ol’ days. You actually don’t even need a reason, just page all available salespeople and pull them together to listen to you. Even your incoherent, nonsensical babble is like pearls of wisdom to these your underlings. Let them drink from the fount of your knowledge. Talk about old car deals and old car guys. If you don’t have many stories about your own sales prowess or mad closing skills just tell stories you remember hearing about other salespeople and insert yourself as the hero. Your crew will never know the difference. Even if they’ve heard the episode from somebody else, all these tales kind of blend together. Your staff will surely benefit more from knowing where you’ve been rather than where you’re taking them. Which at this rate is the poor house. No day is complete without its share of meetings.

Habit 5:    Blame Shifting:

I know this is one of the 7 Habits of Largely Ineffective Salespeople but, you take it to a new level when attempting to become a Useless Manager. As a manager you are responsible for the entire store’s production, not just your own. So you can still blame the manufacturers, the ad agency, the banks, the weather and the various other usual suspects just to a lesser degree. There are some GMs who, after hearing you blame these entities time and again, will start to say that you are just making “excuses”. The gall! However, as a Useless Manager you have a new and effective target for your blame bullets: The salespeople. See when they blame shift, they are never the problem (some actually say YOU are, if you can imagine). Be cautious in employing this tactic. Try not to single any one specific sales rep out. First off, one sales rep couldn’t be the cause for an entire store’s lack of performance. Secondly, if you single out one or two you will be encouraged to fire someone. That leads to more green-peas. And you having to explain every little thing that should be common sense because when you started selling you were told, “There’s a car, there’s a customer; sink or swim.” That’s how it was done back then and the good ones figured it out. It is better to point out the one or two good performers and blame the rest of the crew for the poor production. Nobody is going to tell you to fire 90% of your staff. Who would take the ups? You? Ha, you can’t because then you wouldn’t be in your seat at your desk. You just make general complaints about the poor work ethic, the shallow talent pool and how hard it is to find quality salespeople any more. It is a thing of beauty when it all comes together.

Habit 6:    The Art of Looking Busy:

This is a powerful tool for Completely Useless Managers. It is not very effective for sales reps. Mostly because if you (the manager) are delegating (remember the 3 D’s) some random task and somebody pretends to be busy to get out of it, you call him or her on it. You know it is smoke. They do not, in most cases, have a couple of things that you do have. A computer and old deal files. These are two essential props in Looking Busy. You are always in front of your computer so keep your hand on the mouse at all times. When someone approaches look at your monitor with concern and click the mouse a time or two. Squint and shrug your shoulders or shake your head. This wards off most employees who recognize what you are doing as hard work. They assume you are using all of your vast mental resources and acumen to come up with a creative way to put a deal together. *Warning here- Don’t click the mouse too much or some will assume (and correctly so) that you are just playing solitaire. The old deal files are your strongest allies when it comes to looking busy. Keep a stack by your computer and have one or two at the most open with random papers from them strewn across your desk. Now when some ignorant clod comes to the desk you start rifling through the file frantically. Have that focused look like a shark that detected blood in the water. As passers by notice your activity they will be less likely to stop in or worse yet attempt to speak to you or ask for your assistance. You don’t want to keep this up for too long though. That makes what you do actually feel like work. That is not why you became a manager and it certainly hinders your ability to become a Completely Useless Manager. **For those annoying phone calls from the accounting department, your boss, a salesperson who didn’t get paid on a deal, your spouse wondering why your paycheck was so small or your buddy to whom you lost a bet on a football game; a sure-fire way to get rid of them is the simple yet potent, “I’ve got deals on the desk, I can’t talk.” Then just hang up. To some it may seem rude, but to most, they will perceive you to be busy and focused on making things happen. Perception is reality.

Habit 7:    Surround Yourself with Idiots:

There is a delicate balance that must be struck here. Based on average dealership size strive for about an 8-to-1 Dolt-to-Competent ratio. Obviously you can’t hire only idiots. I mean, somebody’s got to sell cars, you’ve got bills to pay. The good ones are the ones that you can make feel important by delegating to them. Even give them pseudo titles. Here are some examples of titles that will keep the dogs that are hungry for promotion at bay: New Car Display Coordinator (dust the cars on the showroom), Product Information Resource Manager (brochure boy), Inventory Reconciliation Director (the guy you get to do inventory for you). And remember, you can always plant the seed that you are “grooming” them for finance or the desk or whatever. That buys you more time. Then as promotions open up you assure them that the time wasn’t right or that upper management was changing the pay plan for that position and they’ll make more money staying on the floor. That covers the couple of competent peddlers you have. Now for the rest of your crew: Hire whatever mouth breathing, booger eaters you can find. If you see a person walking away from a fast food establishment looking dejected, pull over and talk to him or her. Chances are they just got fired. Fired from a fast food gig? Perfect. It is also possible that someone who works there just dumped them. Dude, they can’t keep a relationship with a zit faced fast food worker? Game on. You fill the bulk of your staff with these drool monkeys. By comparison you will look like Jackie Cooper and Joe Girard rolled up in one. You’ll seem like Joe Verde or Grant Cardone next to that random collection of cricket eating mullets. So, threat eliminated. None of them can replace you and your boss can’t take the one or two real sales reps off the floor to replace you. That would leave the store with an entire sales staff of people who have difficulty tying their shoes. They have trouble finding the road home let alone the road to the sale. Job security intact.


There you have it. You put these 7 habits into action and you my friend are on your way to being a Completely Useless Manager. You get them down good enough and who knows? Applying this program will assuredly qualify you to be Vice President in charge of Sitting By the Door. There could be upper management and executive potential. But that’s another group of habits all together.

*Disclaimer*  Results may vary. Some managers have reported becoming only partially useless. Side effects include rapid weight gain, hair loss, wrinkles, coffee breath that could knock a buzzard off a manure wagon, memory loss including advanced fact distortion and frequent intestinal problems.

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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