TO THE EDITOR:
With the recent downfall of many media people, including Charlie Rose, maybe the entertainment industry could use a lesson from car dealers. In my 20-plus years in automotive dealership management, the transition from old boys’ club to today was swift and without mercy.
And it was pretty simple: Dealerships started getting sued.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, dealership employers found themselves in court, defending themselves and the stores against accusations of unacceptable behavior.
This brought awareness of the issue industrywide and new training programs that showed all employees that the behavior, the suggestions and even girlie calendars in the shop would no longer be tolerated. All areas of the dealership have been affected, and that’s a great thing.
Yes, it hurt at first, and in an industry that has been traditionally slow to respond, this one we didn’t screw up. The biggest change you notice is the faces in our stores — the old guys’ club is gone, replaced by people of all nationalities and sexes.
Dealerships should be proud of what they have accomplished, and honestly, if we were better at getting this message out, it could maybe even start to get rid of the annoying reputation that buying a car is so difficult.
From every dealer principal, to managers and all the employees, we should hold our heads proudly. We got this one right, and a lot sooner than most industries.
KEVIN WEBB, Ranken Technical College, St. Louis. The writer is a technical instructor and former dealership service manager.