The automotive industry is experiencing massive growth as dealerships are increasing sales. New technology is being designed to help car dealers manage their business better. It seems that car dealers are opening up even more to new ideas and are starting to make positive changes. The problem of turnover in our business still exists, however, and continues to grow.
In the past year I have had five friends, all veterans of more than 20 years in the retail automobile industry, leave the business. These people took their skills and entered a new career for a new opportunity. They all left for the same reasons. The reasons included constantly dealing with changes in the store that prevented them from maximizing opportunities, as well pay-plan changes and other issues. Some of these brilliant high-level automotive executives even got terminated because the dealer wanted to pay someone else less.
Let’s consider recruiting and training fresh auto sales professionals into a “brand-new, financially rewarding career,” as promised in recruiting advertisements and job interviews. There are plenty of recruiting companies running campaigns, interviewing and training candidates, and placing these candidates into jobs.
Everything seems great after the hiring process is finished. But somehow after a few weeks, the same dealership is often once again looking for new people, and it seems like a miracle if one of the previous recruits is still employed at the dealership. This actually happened to a friend of mine a few days ago. Does it sound familiar?
Why does this pattern continue in dealerships all over the country? Is it a fact that all of these new hires are not capable of succeeding in the business of selling cars? Management’s excuse is always that it hired the wrong people. If that’s true, how come they are not changing their ways and hiring more brilliant people? Did they really hire the wrong people or did they drive away some great people with their own “insanity”? It brings to mind the old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
It is time to stop recycling salespeople and start building a quality group of sales rock stars. This means providing proper training, coaching, mentorship, and a positive environment for them to work in. It does not mean throwing them out on the floor to try to figure it out from the other sales professionals. It is a competitive business, and other salespeople see new hires as competition. I know this because I was once a brand-new salesperson at a dealership too. I remember being thrown on the floor to figure it out and given a list of random customers to call without being taught what to say.
A big part of the problem is that aside from not mentoring new hires, management takes it upon itself to use these new hires as punching bags by talking down to them. Going back to the story of my friend who was driven away from selling cars, he left the business with a bad taste in his mouth about our business because the sales manager bullied him five days into starting at the dealership. My friend was the last of the trainees that was still employed at the dealership after training before he was fired. But two weeks later, the same recruiting company was running the same advertisement for the same dealership to recycle salespeople once more. How much money and time does that cost the dealership?
The problem is not that we are always hiring the wrong people. The problem is that there are no boundaries set in place by upper management and ownership of how management needs to behave. The other problems include having poor pay plans. Great salespeople eventually notice and make moves for better opportunities. The fact is that there are some wonderful dealerships that rarely have any turnover. These are situations where everyone makes a great living, the reputation of the store is solid, and the business has a caring environment.
If your dealership is constantly recycling through salespeople, it’s time to take a look at the dealers in your market that barely ever run recruiting advertisements and evaluate what they are doing differently from you. It is also time to evaluate the quality of managers that are on staff, and either train them or replace them with the right people. This is also a great time to evaluate recruiting, training, and hiring procedures.
When using a recruiting and training company to provide this service, consider making the upfront investment in the service instead of bringing in a recruiting company that will charge innocent job seekers for the training. The dealers that make the investment in their business upfront always hire the right people with the right process. This decreases turnover while increasing production and profits.
Stan Sher is the founder and president of Dealer eTraining, an automotive sales training and consulting company focused on internet, BDC, and showroom sales operations. Stan is a millennial himself with over 11 years experience in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at [email protected].