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An interesting article on the Forbes website shared the results of a recent study by Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends. The study was the result of an extensive survey of over 2,500 companies in 90 countries. Based on the survey results, the author shared the importance of engaging employees in growing a business and how this relates to customer retention. The survey found that over two thirds of employees today feel overwhelmed, which prevents them from engaging with their employer. The survey further found that company executives recognize that their businesses have difficulties in this area; over 75 percent reported challenges in the following areas:


  • They have a significant retention & engagement problem. (79%)
  • They do not have the right HR skills to address the issue. (77%)
  • They are struggling to attract & recruit top people. (75%)


While I do not know if any auto dealerships were included in this study, the data certainly rings true for our industry. Bell-to-bell shifts for salespeople are very common and sales and service employees tend to work long hours. Add to that the stress involved in meeting sales expectations, and the problem is only exacerbated. High turnover is all too common and is something that many dealerships struggle with. This turnover absolutely affects customer experience. In sales it creates an orphan owner with no known point of contact at the dealership. And in both sales and service causes inconsistent individual follow-up with customers.


There is a delicate balance within a dealership when it comes to staffing. On the one hand, management doesn’t want to flood the floor with salespeople, as it can potentially affect their income by distributing sales amongst more people. On the other hand, if employees feel overwhelmed due to an imbalance in their work and personal lives, this can affect performance, engagement and revenue.


Businesses cannot expect to earn a customer’s loyalty when their own employees aren’t engaged with their business. If their customers aren’t loyal, dealerships increasingly have to focus their marketing efforts on customer acquisition to replace those lost customers. This then leads to inadequate retention marketing, which further increases customer defection.


The bottom line is that there is a direct correlation between customer and employee retention.


It’s absolutely necessary to recognize the interconnectedness of employee engagement, employee retention, customer retention and the customer experience. These are not independent of each other and it can help to face these challenges with a holistic plan that is inclusive of all of these areas. 

Views: 429

Tags: automotive, dealerships, deloitte, employee, engagement, forbes, leadership, management, retention, sales, More…stress


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Comment by Anne Fleming on March 27, 2014 at 9:58pm

I completely agree with you especially when it comes to women in the auto industry. With the increased pressures you mention and the different job-related attitudes. It’s absolutely necessary to recognize the interconnectedness of employee engagement, employee and consumer retention, and the customer experience.


Women, in particular, depend greatly on their interaction with the key company representative when it comes to a car deal. Ensuring your employees aren't overwhelmed and are able to take care of your women client’s needs will dramatically increase the opportunity to shift them from browsers to buyers. Remember, women visit just two dealerships before they buy. For some women a trip to the dealership is as dreaded as a trip to the dentist so ensure it's a positive one for you both!

Comment by Rachel Ross on March 24, 2014 at 8:44pm
Great article. I think a huge contributor to the issue is that management is just as overwhelmed-even more so. we've all had a job where additional duties keep getting added to your plate. You know, one of those huge rectangle styrofoam plates you use at a family reunion? It can be difficult to manage & motivate your employees, as we all keep getting the push to sell more cars, get more ROs, sell more on the back end. Processes are great. But even with the best processes in place, your challenge will be getting the employees to follow it. And since this game is always changing, getting your team to do the same [change] is another hurdle. I can have the most wonderful ideas and intentions on what I want for my team. make it so they enjoy their job to the point where they work diligently to do well because it makes them feel good about themselves and their career choice. A balanced & appropriate workload for each level of employee; from the bottom of the hierarchy all the way to the top?.. I've never experienced that in my 9-years doing this.!!So, is it just one of the facts of life in the "biz"? We have the Processes is in place at my store, but the styrofoam plate is so full its starting to crack. So what comes next?

Comment by Richard Holland on March 24, 2014 at 1:55pm

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. In regard to "what is the solution" I offer one word; process.

With a defined process, both management and employees know what is expected of them and a dealership's customers learn what to expect will be done for them. Without process, employees often spend time focused on, as Lee Fogel points out, "other duties as assigned" rather than doing what should be done to best provide a quality experience. Without process, management can't identify those area where there is a breakdown in customer service or where employee efforts are thwarted by insufficient resources; either human or technological. Without process, there is no consistency.

At my company, in addition to striving to define streamlined workflows, we adhere to three overriding philosophies. These are:

·         Think 80/20 – Encourages managers and associates to focus their individuals efforts on the 20 percent that produces 80 percent of the results.

·         Act 30/30 – If you have 30 percent waste then there is room for 30 percent more capacity.  Reduce waste to increase productivity.

·         Live 90/10 – Encourages managers and associates to personally assume 90 percent accountability for team-based projects with a remaining 10 percent of accountability to colleagues.

By defining your processes and making everyone adhere to them will help the business run more efficiently.

Comment by Lee Fogel on March 24, 2014 at 9:10am

That's a terrific point to bring up, Thomas.  Any ideas/recommendations, Richard?  I know that we try to monitor work loads for employees.  Yet we all tend to take on stuff that, as I joke, are 'other duties as assigned'.  I do believe that open and honest communication between managers and staff, other managers and ownership are crucial to keeping your job duties in perspective.  Sometimes management or ownership doesn't have a firm grasp on how the work day breaks down and where you may be over-loaded or losing focus. 

Comment by Aileen Crass on March 24, 2014 at 8:56am

This is a great article!  I think one solution is to slow down.  We are so busy with tasks that we forget the customers.  Get out of the car business and back to the people business!

Comment by Alexander Lau on March 24, 2014 at 6:48am

True Thomas, it's easy to point out failures, but what is the solution. :-)

Comment by Thomas Reidy on March 24, 2014 at 6:46am

Richard, what is a strategy that you would recommend for the dealers' sales organizations?

Comment by Richard Holland on March 24, 2014 at 6:44am

Excellent comments everyone! Thank you!

Comment by Lee Fogel on March 24, 2014 at 6:42am

Outstanding post and very true.  Plus, if you are overwhelmed at work it will eventually come home with you and that makes a bad situation even worse for both employer and employee.

Comment by MJ Salvato on March 24, 2014 at 6:36am
Good topic. The auto dealership environment is chaotic and focuses greatly on month end activities. It needs someone to play the long game. Perhaps the business development centers can help and refocus and realign efforts to include customer engagement.

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