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Not-so-secret Traits of Early Success

Oct 26, 2017 03:46PM ● By Patrick McGee

Dan Hamilton is a service manager in the automotive industry—and he’s about 10 years younger than the average person in that position.

Duane Singleton of Baxter Volkswagen La Vista says that shows a high level of aptitude.

Hamilton attributes his early success to supportive people along the way noticing and nurturing his ability to lead people. “They gave me an opportunity, and I did everything I could to run with it,” he says. Attributing his success to others is a common theme in Hamilton's story.

At 26, he is married with a big family—a wife and 13-month-old in a new home, and a department of 16 personnel at H&H Chevrolet. He describes himself as “the point man for the dealership.” He is the liaison between customer and technician, and leads a team to do the same. “For the most part it’s a customer service job,” Hamilton says. However, Hamilton is also responsible for delegating tasks to his personnel and helping them solve problems. “At the end of the day, those 16 people come to see me when there's a big problem.”

The big secret, he says, is “giving your time and effort to listen.” He reports that listening can turn around an unhappy customer. He boosts his team's morale and encourages good work. “My success is solely rooted in the success of others,” he says. Whether dealing with customers or colleagues, Hamilton emphasizes “caring about individuals—their needs and their wants.” He reports that these attributes come naturally to him. They make him an excellent service manager.

But they can wear down anyone. “My single best attribute is not to get beat down,” he says. “It takes a lot to crack me most of the time.”

“Having a smile on your face,” also ranks up there, according to Hamilton, noting that, “things get pretty down sometimes.” Hamilton oversees a lot of tasks. “Time management is important,” he says. Of course, hard work and experience rank highly.

With great responsibility comes voluminous paperwork. “I do a lot,” Hamilton says of pencil-pushing.

Hamilton is proof that one doesn't have to take the traditional path to success. Coming out of high school, he had a passion for cars. After spending a year in a traditional college, he realized academics were not for him. The classroom setting did not give him what he needed. He studied auto body at Metro Community College and fell into his crowd of automotive gurus. He worked as a valet, then in a service writing position. He excelled at service writing because he enjoys helping others and makes sure to listen to them. That is why the opportunity presented itself and he was selected as manager. Hamilton says he has received noteworthy marks in his accreditation from auto manufacturers, but nothing to brag about; for him the proof really is in his work.

At 19 years old, Hamilton saw the job “at face value.” He didn't know his entry into the automotive industry would turn into a career. Foresight didn't earn him his success—leadership and listening did. He has held his job as service manager for more than a year and a half.

In a September 2016 article in Forbes magazine titled “How U.S. Auto Dealers Can Grow in the Digital Age” listed a service-department manager with a tenure of at least three years as the single biggest factor in optimizing dealer operations.

Omaha can bet that Dan Hamilton will meet, and exceed, that statistic.

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This article published in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B.