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We keep talking about millennials in the automotive industry as though they are a new disruption, but millennials are just the next generation rising up to purchase, work, and define the economic road for the very near future.
And we have been talking about them FOR-EV-ER.
So why are they so confusing to dealerships?
Because they are different and want different things than previous generations. People tend to manage the way they were managed, regardless of its effectiveness. So many want the magic pixie dust that will make millennials exactly what they want them to be: old school car guys.
That is just not going to happen.
There are some who are willing to work and work hard for commission, but the overwhelming numbers are stating that excess of money is not everything: job satisfaction and time with friends/family are equally important to this generation.
How do you keep millennials happy, focused, and working at your dealership selling cars, making money, and not quitting after two days?
It is all about culture.
So what kind of culture has your dealership built?
If you don’t know, that does not mean you don’t have a culture, it just means you have not developed it. Someone or something else has defined it for you. And that is not what you want.
This is something you and all employees should know, feel, and then extend to customers. Your dealership culture is what will keep your employees happy in their job and customers coming back to your dealership.
There are three cultural indicators that will help diagnose if you have a culture millennials will thrive in, or a culture they will run from.
When you hire, do you know the skill set you are looking for or are you just blindly hiring to fill a position? First, know what you want out of the person filling the position. Then articulate that information so that they can see concrete aspects of the job that must be completed, or numbers that must be met as a benchmark for success. It is safe to say that the majority of people want to be successful in their career, but it is hard to be successful if you don’t know what is expected of you.
The more specific you are in hiring, the better you can measure success. And the better you can measure success, the better you can remediate, train, and assist your team to be the best they can be.
Now that you know what you want, know WHO you want. You cannot hire someone for a new position when they have been fired two times before.
Three strikes and you're out.
And just because Thom is young and constantly on his phone does not mean he is technology savvy. It just means he is dependent and will mostly likely have no clue how to perfect your CRM process. Or your printer.
You may have to hire outside of your current staff when looking at managerial positions, and that is okay, too. Fresh eyes can bring new insight into stagnant departments.
So, to recap: know what skills you want, know exactly what you want out of the position, and then hire for the position, not just because they seem like they would work.
Now that you have hired the right person, how do you help them to be successful? Because, if you are in any type of management position, it is part of your job to give your team the tools to be successful.
You must train them. Train them in the best practices so that there is no confusion and few bad habits formed early. That means you will have to know the best practices and be ready to enforce them.
If you are not overly excited to train, or don’t have the time, there are a few really good trainings out there (both online and face-to-face) who will tailor your trainings for you and provide a great coach to implement the trainings.
Just remember, you cannot expect what you don’t explain. I am the worst mind reader, and I consider myself pretty good at reading social cues. No one should have to mind read their job description.
Provide them with the tools for success. The more successful your team is, the more successful you are!
This may be the most difficult of the three to discuss, because this involves the biggest shift in dealership behavior and management.
No one wants to work from 9-9 every day.
Millennials value their personal time, and dealership hours will wear them out and cause a higher turnover rate than already experienced. Start to think outside of the box in regards to hours and schedules for employees. Between split shifts, to earned time off, to more concrete dealership hours, you can get millennials to not quit if you can adjust this one aspect. Again, more money is always nice, but not at the cost of having a personal life, and that is one major factor with millennials.
Look at more creative scheduling. This will benefit everyone, not just millennials.
Training is not an option, it is a necessity. Make sure you are training your team for success.
Let’s redefine this conversation from fact finding to actionable ideas. Millennials are here, they are working, they are buying, and they are defining the marketplace. We know this and we know who they are.
Now let’s change.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.