The 2019 NADA Workforce Study is underway as we speak, but while we wait for it to be published, you can review what is happening inside your own dealership. My colleague, Mohamed Desouky, wrote a post recently on the True Cost of Your Revolving Door that can help you calculate this for your store.
If you are losing a significant volume of salespeople, BDC reps, service writers, technicians, or other personnel, you are going to want to read this.
Over the past 5 years, I have spoken with countless General Managers and witnessed firsthand the importance of establishing the right culture, pay plans, systems, and training to attract new employees to your dealership and retain the talent you have. The stores that have the highest retention rates understand that retention is not about perks; it is about employee experience. Through it all, the #1 thing that I have learned is this:
So, how do you get started? Here are some helpful tips on how to set up your employee experience and keep satisfaction high for years to come.
1. Give employees a sense of empowerment
In the words of Steve Jobs, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people, so they can tell us what to do.” High-performance workers want to do what they feel is right to get the job done. Consider how much of the sales process you allow your salespeople to handle without requiring them to speak to a sales manager. Do they have to leave the customer’s side multiple times to get them through the process?
I recently went to a Honda dealership to buy a car and the salesperson could not provide numbers on a new Honda Clarity without asking his manager. Your customers don’t understand why a person who is being paid to help them can’t actually help them, and your salespeople don’t enjoy doing the uncomfortable dance back and forth between their customer and manager.
2. Reduce the high-pressure sales environment
While there are plenty of grinders out there that live for the negotiation, if you are trying to source employees from other industries or are focused on hiring millennials (and gearing up for Gen Z) at your dealership, you should evaluate the necessity of negotiation in your sales process. Roadster did a Millennial Job Study a few years back that said negotiation is the #1 reason why millennials would not want to work at a dealership.
Most dealerships today are moving toward market-based pricing, with many going a step further to one-price sales on the used car side. Given that there is less wiggle room and more technology to guide customers through pricing options, salespeople have an opportunity to play a more customer service/concierge-oriented role. Reducing high-pressure sales tactics aligns nicely with what today’s consumers value most.
3. Review your pay plans to ensure alignment
Many studies show that today’s employees would prefer a reliable salaried or hourly pay structure and less variable compensation. To attract and retain employees, you will want to address this preference. Additionally, think about other behaviors you would like to incentivize. Customer experience is a significant driver of loyalty and repeat business, so incentivizing the team on providing excellent customer service should be considered as part of any remaining variable compensation.
4. Respect employees’ personal time
Employees today want to work hard and also have time for family and fun. Many job seekers consider careers in automotive retail but are turned off by the long work hours required for success. Some of this is due to compensation structures, but consider adjusting required hours or allowing certain positions to be remote, similar to what we see in other industries. When your employees have time to keep their home life together, they will likely have better command of their work life as well. Omnichannel retail can help here. It gives sales teams the ability to handle multiple transactions at the same time by empowering the customer to do more of the deal themselves. There are many examples of sales professionals who have maintained or increased their sales volume while working fewer hours. Think about the potential efficiency gains of implementing this change.
Suggested Reading: Work Smart, Sell More. A Story Of Omnichannel Efficiency
5. Provide employees with the latest technology
Investing in quality software systems is almost always done to improve business performance. A positive side effect is that a more user-friendly system can also improve employee morale. For example, many of your employees use their mobile devices and tablets at home and are comfortable with that hardware. They are buying things themselves using modern customer experiences, like Amazon. How about allowing them to use iPads to present a modern commerce experience, including welcoming customers, comparing vehicles, penciling deals, and reviewing service & protection plans?
6. Provide robust, ongoing training
The tone and the environment in which you train your employees is as important as the material itself. Make sure you create a welcoming environment where questions are encouraged. You will also want to make sure the training you provide, like Roadster Academy, is reinforced and supported by your leadership team’s own behavior. Having your General Manager or Digital Retail Manager introduce the program and set the appropriate tone will create buy-in from the start. Make sure that you cover all bases, including role-playing to ensure information is retained and actionable. Encourage Sales Managers to use metrics to drive processes and get out from behind the desk to observe behaviors. This will help them to identify coaching opportunities and provide ongoing training as needed. Couple that training with state of the art technology, and you’ll ensure repeatable and efficient processes are in place.
7. Reduce the dealership jargon!
“Welcome to XYZ Dealership, now have a seat while I talk to you in a cryptic language called dealer speak.”
This is how many new employees feel when they start at your dealership, especially if they have little to no automotive experience. Millennials (and your customers) aren’t familiar with acronyms like, PVR, DMS, CRM, SRP and VDP or understand the difference between front end and back end. Can you make your internal language more accessible to everyone? If not, do you have a plan for teaching new employees this industry-specific jargon?
8. Review competitor career pages
You can learn a lot by reviewing the career pages of other dealerships in your area, as well as other local businesses that are attracting top talent. Review their employee benefits to gauge your competitiveness. Then, look inward and focus on what you can control— your culture, employee behavior, and brand— to differentiate yourself in the market.
An excellent way to learn which of these tips to implement first is to ask your former employees for their feedback on their way out the door. They are going to be the most candid about what works and what doesn’t.
Don’t forget that you’re not in the car business; you’re in the people business. In the end, it comes down to reflection and putting as much focus on modernizing your employee experience as you are on modernizing your customer experience. So, don’t give up. There are things you can do today that will keep even your most seasoned employees motivated for years to come!
Please connect with us to learn more about the Roadster platform and reducing employee turnover.