By most accounts our industry itself is thriving and selling more new vehicles than ever before. There are a ton of great vehicles from nearly every manufacturer, strong brand loyalty, and growing transparency in all aspects of our business (from consumer through dealerships to vendors and manufacturers). One of the upcoming areas of focus may be; how can we attract, hire, grow and retain our best employees – thereby growing our business?
Well, it’s a very simple but difficult to solve answer. It has to do with employee engagement, the desire for fulfilling work and being rewarded (monetarily and non-monetarily) for the work that is being completed. The 3 items just listed are the demand of the millennials; the majority of our workforce in the next 10-15 years. So we have to find a way to get our employees engaged, ensure that this growing group feels that their work is fulfilling /appreciated and that they’re rewarded appropriately.
Many dealerships struggle to get people with the “traditional” automotive mindset, that are hungry, entrepreneur minded, hard-working and willing to do “whatever it takes” to be successful. If we do find these individuals, we often find that they come filled with bad habits that are difficult to overcome and unwire. We need to be prepared to develop our own employees into the “evolving” automotive mindset. This may require us to step outside our comfort zone and actually commit to a DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM.
There are a couple of things, that dealerships as a whole aren’t all that good at that will increase the likelihood of …wait for it… developing DREAM EMPLOYEES.
- New Hire Training – have a designated “trainer” for both service side and sales side for the hands on training, but sit with the necessary management teams to lay out a training path/schedule. This designated trainer will likely be one of your Senior team members or a member of your management staff. Ensure that if you don’t have the tools to create your own materials, you’re investing in alternate sources – i.e. Online Training, training opportunities for your managers, etc. Don’t miss this step!
- Ongoing Training – commit to a program and hold your team members accountable to following through. Training has to be part of your culture, not something you try to do. Watch videos, role play, practice objections/closes, discuss scenarios or “LOST SALES” and always be better for the next opportunity. Invest in improving your people and you’ll be paid off with more engaged employees who produce more results! If they’re average; make them good. If they’re good; make them great. If they’re great, make them superstars! Employees who are TRULY superstars, are successful and are being rewarded as such won’t leave- you’ll be full of talent!
- Clearly Defined Expectations – particularly to the new employee, they’re not quite clear how to do the things we need them to do to be successful. This causes them to become disengaged or develop bad habits. Clearly define your processes – Sales Process, Showroom Visit Follow Up Process, Sold Vehicle Follow Up Process, etc. This gives employees a “path to success” so they can be successful for themselves – and ultimately the dealership! Document what you expect to result in success, communicate it, train it and then move to #4.
- Accountability – once you’ve trained your people, committed to their ongoing development, clearly defined the expectations for them to be successful (and employed) – this last step of Accountability becomes a whole lot easier. I know accountability is tough for the busy Managers of each department, but if the first 3 steps are followed – the accountability part is easy. The tracking mechanisms are easy, the corrective actions are easy, the conversations with employees are easy and your culture will improve. Accountability is hard when our leadership teams aren’t holding themselves accountable to the culture they want, the needs of the team and to making every day better than the last!
- Share the Successes – as your staff demographics continue to change, it is important that we’re sharing with our team members the GREAT accomplishments that they’re part of. Whether it is setting new sales records, new service records, new customer satisfaction records, sharing your dealerships community involvement or finding small opportunities to show them your appreciation. This goes a long way in keeping your employees feeling rewarded for the work their doing in a NON MONETARY way. Find a way to complete 1-4, fully commit with your management team and there will be so much success around, that this becomes the easiest and most fun part!
The 5 things listed above aren’t earth shattering or completely foreign concepts to the management team you have in place. They’re things that we know we should commit to and that we know needs to happen but constantly is being pushed to the back burner in an effort to sell/service as many vehicles as possible! The same things we want our employees to demonstrate, we as a leadership team need to ensure that we’re demonstrating. It is, after all, our example that they’re following. Work together as a team, determine what outcomes you want, what needs to happen to achieve them, teach your staff (management included), train – retrain –practice constantly and then hold EVERYONE accountable. When you do these for yourself, your team and your dealership – there will be plenty of successes for you to share as a team!
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