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Aimi Gundersen

Aimi Gundersen Project Manager

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Training that Sticks, Not Stinks

BDCs, CRMs, Elite Customer Service, Brand Expertise--these are all things you must know and master to be competitive in a dealership. But this information does not generally come naturally and training is a must in the automotive space.

Training, however, can become a four letter word.

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Bore
  • Waste (wait--that is a five letter word)

These can all play a part when trying to decide who, when, and how to train your BDC, your internet team, and your staff.


Training gets expensive. Whether outsourcing to a 3rd party or attempting to train on your own, cost can seem prohibitive. The most widely accepted (but not the only) formula is:

fig.1 (Society for Human Resource Management. HR metrics toolkit.)

You need to know that the training you are completing or outsourcing will yield a positive return. That return may be in increased sales, increased contacts, or in decreased employee turnover. Employees who know their expectations and have been trained well are less likely to leave their position within the dealership because of dissatisfaction. And we know how expensive it is to have to continue to hire new staff.


If training is not relevant to your dealership and dealership needs, it will seem boring. If something is boring, your staff will not engage, and then it becomes a waste of time. Which lead us to the five letter word--


Training can be seen as a waste of time and of money. And when time is money, you cannot afford to waste either. If the content is not what your dealership needs, it is a waste.

Regardless of all of these pitfalls, training is inevitable. If you want the best, you need to train for the best. And since I know you want the best for your dealership, we need to focus on what to do and how to make trainings as successful as possible.

How to Overcome Dealership Training Pitfalls 

Evaluate Your Needs

Before you begin looking into training because someone says you need it, evaluate your dealership needs. Start with the most urgent (possibly BDC or Software/CRM/DMS Training) and then move to the less urgent (Esthetics, Greetings, etc…) Generally, brainstorming everything the dealership may need with the key stakeholders, and then putting those ideas into the funnel, will help guide the direction of the lessons/modules. The urgent make it to the end of the funnel. The non-urgent, but important, will still be at the top, but can wait. (see fig.1)

fig. 2

Begin with the End in Mind. 

When you expect something excellent, you must plan and prepare for every step of the way. That is why you should always begin with the end in mind. Know exactly what you want to achieve, and then plot backwards to know how to reach it. If your goal is to increase contact ratio and CSI by X%, what would you need to do to get there? What would your staff need to be successful? If you cannot verbalize this, there is very little chance that your staff would be able to.

A great way to do this is to create a checklist of what you expect by the end of the trainings. This could be what you expect from your staff, what you expect from yourself, or what you expect from the training. This will not only help you benchmark your goals, but will also aid in the evaluation process.

This also means that you must choose the best format for your dealership: face to face, blended, or online.  Some trainings make more sense to be held face-to-face. Technology trainings--especially when the technology is new, is sometimes best as  face-to-face because there is someone to walk you through in real time, answer questions and show you what needs to be done. Training concepts can sometimes be done well through a completely online environment.  Topics can be addressed, demonstrated, and then broken down via video and online modules.  And blended is the best of both worlds.

Be Evaluative and Recursive 

You cannot quantify something unless you evaluate it. And if you are going to spend money on trainings, you had better make sure you can evaluate the effectiveness of it and measure your ROI.

Look back to the checklist you created when you were beginning with the end in mind. Use that as a guide for your evaluation. You should be able to check off a majority of the goals you set a the beginning of the training. If not, you need to reflect on the training and make sure it focused on the elements you needed. Revise your training to focus on the necessary elements if it did not meet the goals intended.

If it did have the right focus, yet people still did not demonstrate mastery, you may need to take a little more time on the subject matter. This is when the idea of recursive training comes into play.

Recursive is a fancy word for revisiting/repeating something for mastery. If a concept is difficult or technologically heavy, you may have to review it more than once. Being recursive ensures that the skills or concepts are driven home.

What training looks like when done right 

Training is Specific:

Each training should cover small concepts that are a part of a larger one. We call this “chunking.” (lovely word, right?) Small pieces of new information are much more likely to stick than huge pieces all at once. Introduce the concept, discuss, practice, repeat. When learning larger amounts of content, if the learner’s capacity to take new information is full, the remainder of information will drop off--as in disappear forever. That is why chunking information is critical.

Also, I have the attention span of a bunny rabbit. I can focus for about 20 minutes when someone is speaking, and then I need to do something: doodle, walk around, text….. And I am assuming there are more who are similar to me than are different. Chunking information is great for people like me.

Training is Short: 

Dealerships are busy. Incredibly busy. And then they are dead. And then they are ridiculously busy again. Training needs to be able to be as short as possible. If you can keep the majority of online trainings between 30-45 minutes and face to face to no more than 90 minutes of instruction, you will maximize your value to your clients and also get the most out of your staff. This obviously does not apply to out of office/ off campus trainings, although training should still be chunked into manageable pieces.


Training is never one and done. Coming back to the recursive element, it is a process. That is why good training will always be supportive. If you are doing the training in-house, ensure that you have set aside time and resources for the support of the employees. They should be able to come to you with questions, recommendations, and constructive criticism.

If using a 3rd party company, they should provide additional support to ensure mastery for each skill.

Take Away

Training is necessary, but can be costly and time consuming. You must know exactly what you expect to be mastered by your employees and what you want the end outcome to be. Once that is set, you must choose the format that will best suit your dealership. Online, face-to-face, or blended trainings all offer different incentives, but there is one that is best suited for your specific training need. Make sure you know which will work best for you.

Training is never easy, but always worth it. If you would like more information on how BetterCarPeople can help with your training solutions, click here.

Aimi Gundersen is an Automotive Lead Specialists, Blogger, Speaker, Educator, and a Project Manager for BetterCarPeople. Aimi has her masters in communications and her doctorate in Higher Education and Adult Learning. Her life is dedicated to making people smarter, stronger, and more efficient in any capacity of work. Contact her at or connect with her on LinkedIn.

mark rask
This is so true....if you embark on a training without a clear plan it does not work

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