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Shining the Spotlight on the Dealership Controller
Some dealerships may require a Certified Public Accountant.
This column is part of an ongoing series in which I highlight different positions within the dealership to educate readers on the many career opportunities, in accounting, fixed operations, human resources, detailing, business development and digital marketing, to name a few.
Today, I will shine the spotlight on the controller, who is responsible for the financial condition of a dealership.
Our controller is Angie Shemilt, a dedicated member of our team who has worked with us for 25 years (Angie began her career in accounting in 1971.)
Angie’s role falls into three main categories: accounting, human resources and business.
On the accounting side, Angie is responsible for preparing monthly and year-end financial statements for the dealership. A strong accounting background is required to perform this job, along with a proficiency in dealership business software.
Financial statements provide a snapshot of the different departments, and the controller presents financial statements to key stakeholders, including dealer principal, financial institution and auto manufacturer. Business policies and procedures are determined, based on information contained in the financial statements.
Angie also supervises daily deposits and vehicle transactions, reviews and manages accounts payables and receivables; prepares monthly bank reconciliation; and prepares and processes payroll.
Depending on the size of a dealership, the controller’s duties are performed by a single individual, or by a team working under the controller’s leadership. At my Toyota store, three staff members, who provide accounting duties and related responsibilities, assist Angie.
The next role performed by the controller is in human resources. At my store, Angie’s role is to ensure that all HR processes are performed correctly and that we are compliant with employment legislation. The department managers are responsible for hiring staff for their respective departments.
Angie advises and make sure all necessary HR-related forms and applications are completed and processed. In recent years, Angie has worked closely with an HR professional that we have hired part time to create our HR Manual, conduct orientations with new hires and offers advice and training on compliance issues.
Angie also helps to build and maintain positive relationships with employees and managers, provides guidance about HR issues, health and safety (i.e., the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), diversity and equal opportunities.
It is important for Angie to understand and comply with new workplace legislation. Recently, Angie worked with department managers to discuss the requirements for Ontario’s new Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148), which introduced new rules governing the workplace.
The third area that falls under the controller’s domain is business. This encompasses monitoring dealership expenditures, compliance issues, daily financial transactions, taxation requirements, and profit and loss statements.
Angie reads all financial statements and transactions that take place in all departments. If she finds a discrepancy or inconsistency, she will delve into the matter to find out why.
For many controllers (including Angie), they are also a source of information for staff members, who often approach them with questions about work-related issues. Angie is approached frequently about health, safety, taxation, legislation and other matters.
The controller is one of the most important members on staff at a new car dealership — they often know more about the day-to-day financial operations, and how well a dealership is performing, than any other individual, including the dealer principal.
To become a controller, a high school degree or equivalent is required and an accounting or business administration degree is preferred. Some dealerships may require a Certified Public Accountant.
Over the past two-and-a-half decades at my Toyota store, and for two decades prior, Angie has worked hard to gain the industry knowledge and expertise to perform her job at the highest level.
Angie is a shining example of how hard work, determination and continuous learning can pave the way for a successful and fulfilling career in the retail automobile industry.
This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to [email protected] or go to tada.ca. Susan Gubasta is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president/CEO of Mississauga Toyota. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.
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