Today’s average car buyers go to 1.6 dealerships before they buy a car. They do not move on from that first dealership because they don’t like the brand. They move on because they don’t like the dealership.
With a turnover rate for dealership salespeople of 72 percent, customers who want to become loyal to a dealership cannot find anyone there long enough to become loyal to. Sales force turnover parallels customer turnover.
How can your dealership attract the kind of talented, career-oriented staff who understand that, in today’s market, you don’t sell someone a car — you help them buy it — and that is what earns a customer’s long-term loyalty?
You offer them hope.
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Not short-term hope — that they can make enough money to put some food on their family’s table for the next couple of weeks — but long-term hope. The hope that they will be trained and groomed for a satisfying and successful career. The hope that they can become part of a true team and that they’ll be given a ladder of success they can use to climb based on their own merit and initiative. The hope that they’ll have a real future to match their own ideals.
To offer that hope, realistically, you’ll have to raise both your standards for who you hire and your standards for how much you invest in those you hire. These are long-term strategies. You’re not looking just to replace the warm blood on your showroom floor for the fifth time this quarter.
It’s all about potential talent. It’s all about trained talent.
You need to be in the business of acquiring talent, not hiring raw meat. In today’s job market, that means offering quality prospects more than just a paycheck. Millennials in particular want to work for a company with a vision they can believe in and that is larger than themselves. They want an environment where they can be respected. They want the potential of a future career that will encourage them to expand and prosper and will offer them a stable ladder of success they can climb. They want hope.
These are the employees you want. These will be your future leaders, your future executives. They will be your hope for the future, too.
In order to attract this kind of talent, you’ll need to invest in raising your standard for effective training and mentoring. You can no longer just stick a new salesperson in a back room with a cardboard box of DVDs to watch about car models, extra options and rudimentary sales techniques.
Training is not only a means of enhancing someone’s performance — and therefore their career. It is also a reward. Out-of-town sales seminars, advanced service tech certification, communication and customer service workshops or team building retreats are all valuable experiences for deserving employees, and well worth the investment in the individual. The return is the increased contribution he or she will be able to make over the years to your dealership.
Investing in your employees shows you’ll respect them, and they’ll respect you for doing that. That will help you attract the most talented applicants — the future leaders you want — to your dealership.
To attract them you may also consider reconfiguring your organization into a series of teams and sub-teams. These help create the kind of culture career-oriented applicants seek today. Smaller sub-teams ensure more accountability and responsibility for each unit and for each person in that unit, and they also help bond your entire staff into more closely knit teams who share a dealership’s overall purpose of putting customers first. These stronger sub-teams become better building blocks for the entire organization and, coupled with continuing training, offer the career satisfaction quality applicants are looking for.
By building in a sub-team and sub-team structure, you’re also providing more rungs of a ladder to success that talented employees can climb. A promising new hire, after training, can be rewarded by being moved into a sub-team leader position and groomed and trained there with the skills he or she will need to move into ever greater managerial positions. Sub-teams provide a tangible next step for any employee with eyes firmly set on career enhancement. They provide hope.
Frankly, hope actually is a commodity you can use to attract talented employees. What else, really, does anyone have in life but hope? Hope for a career. Hope for an expanding and successful dealership.
Raise your standards for who you hire, raise your standards for what you offer them, and that hope will turn into reality.
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