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Cross-Training

Your Best Defense Against the Unknown

Having proper coverage for every critical role in the dealership proved critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether due to showroom restrictions as part of shelter-in-place orders, parents who needed to be home with their children or furloughs. And who knows what 2021 will bring?

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As a result, dealership employees are taking on multiple roles and responsibilities. This situation is both good and bad; good because it helps employees build their skill sets, but bad if employees aren’t properly trained for the additional work they’re doing. 

One strategy to keep your dealership prepared for the unknown is cross-training employees. The downside is the time investment involved. However, as many dealerships experienced through the pandemic, there are numerous upsides that will pay off in the end.

PTO/Sick Leave Coverage

Have you ever been in a situation when a valuable employee takes time off or sick leave, and all their tasks pile up while they’re gone? Not only does this disrupt workflow, it discourages employees from taking much-needed vacations because they’re faced with a mountain of work when they return. 

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Cross-training allows you to appoint one or more employees to get some, if not most, of the absent employee’s work done while they’re out.

Job Sharing

With work-life balance becoming a critical factor among job seekers, cross-training allows dealers to offer some flexibility in schedules to attract more qualified candidates. At the same time, certain positions do require constant coverage. Getting creative with job-sharing options is one way to have your cake and eat it too.

Many parents are struggling to juggle work responsibilities with home-schooling and childcare. It falls on senior management to work with these employees to provide the options and flexibility they need. Cross-training ensures that critical tasks get done at the dealership when an employee needs to work from home.  

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Workflow Coverage

Service lanes are busiest in the morning and just before closing. For accounting, the last three days of the month are hectic. Cross-training employees allows you to allocate extra resources to provide help when it’s needed most.  

Prioritize Training

When I bring up training at dealerships, a typical response is, “We don’t have time.” While that’s understandable, making training a priority improves both employee productivity and morale. Besides, time is never an excuse when working with a customer who just walked onto the lot. So, if you want to provide an optimal customer experience, employees trained to the point of mastery will take much better care of customers than employees who do the bare minimum.  

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For training to become a priority for every manager, the mandate must come from the top down. Dealer principals need to buy in and educate managers.

One recommendation is to require that every manager develop a training playbook that lists every role, responsibility and process involved in the roles they oversee. The guide should provide detailed guidance on what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, how to do it, who is responsible and when it needs to be done. 

Playbooks are incredibly effective training tools for employees. Once you have playbooks for every department, you can easily start a cross-training initiative that ensures your dealership has proper coverage during times like today, while providing employees with expanded skill sets and new career opportunities.

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