Who does what?

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Paula Domm
CONTROLLER COLUMNIST

Division of responsibilities within a dealership can be difficult to organize. Controllers tend to wear many hats and assume the responsibility of a variety of roles due mainly to their position within the dealership.

The controller is recognized as a person of integrity, respect and credibility, so therefore they are made accountable for those functions that require analytical thinking, trust, confidentiality and follow up/through.

Accounting is only part of the job. So how do dealer groups, who have multiple locations, share the distribution of responsibility and information?

HUMAN RESOURCES
Does your controller look after this responsibility, or does your dealership have an HR department? Most small, family-owned dealerships do not have this function separated and, speaking from experience, it is a lot of work.

We need to know what the government legislation is for employees, employment standards, labor laws, group benefits, payroll, hiring, firing, termination agreements, employment contracts, health and safety and the list goes on.

A larger dealer group would more than likely have an HR department but if your group has many stores, how is this information shared with the other locations?

Do you have an HR person in each location, or do you have an HR administrator who advises the controller at each store? How do you separate the administrator duties from those of the controller who oversees most of these functions on a daily basis?

Having never worked for a larger dealer group, I always wonder how they share their information. Do dealer groups have a set-up similar to the STA? Do they meet on a regular basis to keep each other informed and current?

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

If you have multiple stores within your dealer group, how is information compiled at month end for management review? Which parts of the financial statement do you focus on?

My Chrysler financial statement has six pages. If you were to multiply that by four or five or more stores within your group that is a lot of numbers to analyze and review.

Most DMS software has the ability to import/export information, so is this how you organize your month end report?

Do you take pieces from each and amalgamate into an excel spreadsheet. If so, which parts do you copy and paste? What numbers do you focus on? Is there a way to simplify the financial statement so that it’s not so overwhelming to a dealer or manager?

ACCOUNTS PAYABLE AND RECEIVABLE
Are these roles consolidated into one person responsible for the entire dealer group or does each store look after its own?

DMS
Do your multiple dealerships all use the same DMS? If they don’t, how do you organize data for reporting purposes? If they all use the same software, does it all get stored on one main server? Personally, I would hate having to connect to multiple servers to get information from different stores and it certainly would not be time efficient.

So, what can controllers do to organize data into a more readable format for management? How can HR information be better shared between locations?

Controllers are always looking for better ways to do things. It’s in our nature. If you have any suggestions to share, I would love to hear from you.  Good/best practice suggestions are always welcome.

Paula Domm is the controller at Hanover Chrysler, Ontario and the president of the Secretary Treasurer’s Association of Ontario, which is always looking to increase its membership. Please contact her at pdomm@hanoverchrysler.ca for information regarding this article or for more information on the STA.