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What is the plan at your dealership for training your team members? If it is what I have seen at most dealerships, it’s not enough. As a matter of fact, if you are operating at the industry standard, it’s embarrassing. Dealerships that struggle always have people who are not trained enough or trained properly.


In 2011, NADA stated that the average automobile dealership in the U.S. spent $654 per vehicle on advertising. How much per car was spent for training? I don’t know the exact answer, but know but I know it was not much. In all struggling dealerships, the necessary capital requirements of time, money and effort have not been spent to create a winning team through better training.


Automotive buyers are far more educated than ever before; however, the average dealership is operating at about the same training level that has always existed. Yes, the dealerships have more factory requirements for product training, but it should be considered a given that all salespeople know the product. What I am talking about is what really improves your team and moves the needle: sales skills, people skills, life skills and marketing skills.


The majority of automotive dealers are far more concerned with their advertising and marketing than their people. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. Many dealers say they care about their employees, but do you really care about them if you are not giving them a chance to succeed? It may be that most dealers consider advertising and marketing as having an immediate pay back. Advertise today and see traffic tomorrow. Most dealers spend a ton of money to bring customers in the door, but none on what to with them once they are there.


There seems to be a lot of skepticism around the ROI of training employees because they may spend money and then the employee is gone. This reminds me of the old saying “The only thing worse than investing in people who don’t stay is not investing in people who do.”


The other response I hear from dealers is, “I expect my managers to train my employees.” I would agree that managers should definitely train and train every single day. However, let’s look at that idea a little deeper and ask some questions.


1. What are your managers’ level of education and expertise in the area of training? Does being a manager mean you know how to train?

2. What do you want your managers to train on? Are there many areas in people skills, life skills and marketing skills they wouldn’t know much about?

3. Are your managers getting done all the things you want them to do now? If they are not, how likely are they to take on this additional duty?

4. Is it smart to have all your training and education come from within your organization?


If you want to recruit, hire and retain good employees, then you must offer a road map for their future that includes training and career advancement. Good people are not looking for a job; they are looking for a career, opportunity and a dream. Employees can find a paycheck anywhere, but exciting dreams are hard to come by.


Take Enterprise Rent-A-Car as an example. This is probably the best recruiting, dream-selling company there is. If you visit any Enterprise location, you’ll find a college graduate with proper attire, a big smile and intelligently working a trained process actively pursuing their career goals.


Enterprise recruits on college campuses and offers a strong growth-oriented career path. These college-educated young folks are taking a rental clerk job because of a dream. The real numbers show that a large percentage of the employees leave after two years because they don’t believe the dreams are going to happen, but the rest wind up doing well within the company. Compare what an automotive career has to offer in compensation, career and rewards. An automotive career is light years above Enterprise, so why don’t dealerships get those types of people most of the time?


Most automotive dealerships never even try to get better people. Many are still stuck in the dark ages of running an ad in the newspaper when they need people. Secondly, most qualified job seekers would never have a clue about the career and money potential in the auto industry. The hard truth is the prevailing culture and environment of most dealerships would not allow those dealerships to recruit, hire or retain better people. The whole environment is set up to recruit needy lower-level people and perpetuate turnover.


If you don’t believe training works, then look at McDonalds. McDonalds takes lower-level potential employees and combines massive training and incredible process and gets consistent results in thousands of franchises. If McDonalds can train, can you?


Confidence comes from competence. Competence comes from training, which in action forms education. I have often referred to training as a sunburn that wears off. That is why training done every day becomes lasting education. Training is an everyday thing, not a sometimes thing. You must have full commitment from the leaders of your dealership to education with full accountability and no excuses. When this occurs, you change the dynamic of your dealership into one of a better culture and winning mentality. Without constant education, your dealership will always struggle. Winners educate and take action every day.

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