Performance and Profitability: It Starts at the Top

There’s a funny thing about business: the better things are done, the better the results and the better the business. That’s a fairly straightforward premise, if you ask me. You do things well, stay consistent in the practices that reinforce a well-run operation, and guess what? The recipient of all of that is your bottom line. Here’s something else that’s pretty straightforward: everything starts at the top. That can sound like a cliché, but it’s not.

When you own or manage an enterprise, you’re the head honcho, the purveyor of stability. You guide, decide, expect, and inspect. What you do or don’t do trickles all the way down and throughout your business each and every day. How’s that making you feel right about now – uh-oh, or pretty good? Do you feel comfortable in how you’re running the show? That should be a pretty easy question to ask yourself, and to answer by the way. You watch what’s going on, right? You take care of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. Or do you?

How are your department heads and your team members doing? Do you like what you see? Do your customers like what they see? What do your customers think about your business?

How your team does things influences what your customers do – such as continuing to do business with you. And your team is influenced by the leadership and guidance that comes from the top.

Customers are the lifeblood of any organization, and without them you do not exist. I’ll bet that you can look around your community right now and name businesses you frequent because of how things are done, and ones you wouldn’t frequent because of the same. If you don’t take proper care of the folks walking through your door, they stop wanting to come in. And when the folks stop coming in, your profitability goes south and your business could do the same.

On a recent dealer visit, when I expressed my thoughts to the dealer principal on how to strengthen and grow the business. His response was, “Shoot, Mark, tell me something new. I already know all that stuff!”

Let’s put this statement in context, I said to myself. The head honcho of direction, the top of the heap, the owner, was already was aware of many of the issues plaguing his business – and he hadn’t addressed issues he already knew existed. In his mind, it was all about his darned staff – nothing more, nothing less. Not his fault.

“Here’s something new then,” I retorted. “You’re not dealing with what you already know to be true. Does it matter if I point out more issues when you’re not dealing with what you know needs to be addressed already? Why would you expect anyone in your employ to take care of what needs to be done if you won’t do it yourself? Behaviors are modeled, good and bad. You are the biggest issue in your own business. It starts at the top – with you. No one will set the bar any higher than you set it yourself.”

He got it.

As an owner, team leader, or manager, if you know something needs attending to and you’re not doing what needs to be done – or directing the attending needed – that’s on you.

Poor leadership generally likes to pass the buck when something doesn’t get done; but passing the buck is not so easy knowing that it starts at the top with you. You can’t blame for what hasn’t been modeled, explained, enforced and reinforced to your team as standard practice. The level of expectations defines the quality of an organization or business, and that starts at the top.

You can be assured that, most of the time, issues don’t go away by themselves. If you know something needs attention and you do nothing, what do you think that does to the morale and production of a staff? It impacts your staff in a negative way, and impacts your bottom line in a negative way.

Here are a few simple things for you to think about:

  • Are the practices being followed in your business working the way you want them to?
  • Do they reinforce performance and production in a positive way?
  • Do they reinforce growth and stable profitability?
  • Do you take care of what needs to be done, or do you wait, hoping for the issues and challenges facing your business to take care of themselves?
  • Have you earned the trust and the full commitment of your team?

Pretty simple questions, and “kinda” is not an allowed answer.


Mark Mooney

Mark Mooney is a former dealer principal of a multi-line metric dealership with annual sales in excess of $10 million. He has partnered and works with many major OEMs to provide dealership consultation and sales training for their dealer bodies. He has delivered keynote speeches for OEMs, taught numerous classes on dealership management, trained sales teams throughout the United States, and improved bottom lines. For more information, visit


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