Professional Development Is More Important Than Ever for Dealership Staff

By offering employees career development opportunities, you create loyalty and foster a strong team environment

As the saying goes, “you are the company you keep,” so it’s imperative to hire great people and retain them to create a solid company culture and manage your dealership’s positive reputation. Investing in professional development and training remains essential, especially as the car-shopping landscape changes and compliance issues continue to plague dealers.

In addition, by offering employees career development opportunities, you create loyalty and foster a strong team environment as your dealership grows.

It’s no secret that most people working at dealerships function primarily as sales staff, focused mostly on moving cars, parts, and labor to the consumer. And with good reason: Auto dealers are under tremendous pressure because of sales cycles and quotas set by manufacturers.

Consequently, training is not always treated as a priority. Too often, it’s set aside to focus more of everyone’s time on hitting aggressive monthly sales targets.

As a result, auto dealers often find themselves with sales staff members that have risen through the ranks with increased salaries, but have received very little professional education. In addition, dealers themselves typically receive even less training in compliance when they are laser-focused on increasing profit margins.

With increased government regulations requiring dealerships to strictly adhere to federal regulations connected to the sales, BDC, F&I, fixed ops, HR, and IT departments, it is imperative for auto dealers to address their employees’ lack of job training and create educational opportunities to retain quality talent.

Effective strategies for professional development and compliance training include:

  • Hire a third-party compliance consultant to conduct an audit to offer suggestions for the current training department, or to assist in building a compliance program/training with online courses.
  • Invest in preemployment screening to ensure managers are adding the right people to the team, thus avoiding headaches associated with criminal or fraudulent activity in the workplace. Screening is also a great proactive, preventive way to find top employees.
  • Schedule regular employee performance reviews, benchmarks for promotions, and salary increases.
  • Coordinate internal quarterly audits to ensure that the employees are working well together, identify issues, and optimize the development and implementation of online courses.
  • Require online classes, which are a great tool for existing staff and new employees who don’t have time to attend classes in a traditional academic environment. Dealers should ensure that the online education program provides certification upon successful completion.
  • Make compliance training a dealership requirement. A recent survey indicated that 73% of consumers are more comfortable dealing with a car dealership staff that has completed compliance training, with certificates of completion on display.

Hiring and retaining talent ultimately affects a dealership’s bottom line. Dealers need to focus on eliminating the“everyone can be replaced” culture, and shift instead to the positive development of each employee by celebrating their success and longevity in the workplace.

Retaining solid talent also helps increase repeat business. Customers appreciate having a relationship with their dealer, and working with a familiar sales staff helps to create a pleasant car-buying experience.

Professional development is essential for the future of dealerships and their employees as they face increased competition and federal regulations. Offering your employees career training and development opportunities will attract and retain top talent, ensuring that your dealership maintains its positive reputation.

Max Zanan is a seasoned automotive industry expert with nearly 15 years of experience in sales, F&I, and dealership consulting. Max started Total Dealer Compliance (TDC) to help car dealers mitigate the risks and exposure through compliant practices. TDC conducts Compliance Audits and provides an E-Learning platform for dealer personnel to take courses in order to instill the culture of compliance. As the company’s president and CEO, Zanan utilizes all of the skills he has picked up over the years in order to cohesively mentor dealerships on how to increase revenue and profitability in all departments.

Max Zanan


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