By Jeremiah Shelton is VP of Training and Development at APCO Holdings, home of the EasyCare and GWC Warranty brands.
Dealership staffing is still a top concern for auto dealers. According to the 2021 Cox Automotive “The State of Dealership Staffing” study, 72% of franchise dealers say that finding and hiring the right employees is their top staffing challenge, and 64% say that motivating and retaining quality employees is a challenge. The study also finds that the number one driver of employee engagement is a supportive work environment, which encompasses career development.
Most dealerships today are heavily focused on process training, but entirely void in development training. If you are serious about recruiting top talent and improving employee retention, create a career development program. Development programs are highly attractive to ambitious job seekers who want a defined career path.
Many dealers have told me that they don’t have the time or resources for extra training. I always ask them, how much time do you spend recruiting? How much time do you spend interviewing candidates and training new hires? If you could reduce your employee turnover 30-40%, would it be worth the time investment?
Career development training covers emotional intelligence, leadership training and team-building. Below is a summary of these three types of training. Ideally, offer all three.
Emotional intelligence training teaches people how to understand the human psyche, why people act, why people say what they say and how to appropriately respond. This training is important for sales and service employees because sales is a psychological equation. Whenever you are being sold something, or you are selling something, it is helpful to understand the other party’s mental mindset.
Emotional intelligence training also helps internal employee dynamics. Salespeople will better understand why management approaches a scenario in a particular way. Service department employees will better understand each other.
Emotional intelligence is also known as EQ, for emotional quotient.
In sports the most successful teams have bench strength. In business it is also good to have bench strength. If a critical team player or manager suddenly leaves or gets promoted, who can step up and take their place?
Ideally, you have a pool of current employees who are able to step up to the challenge, understand your processes and adhere to your culture. If you don’t have bench strength, you will be forced to bring in people from outside the organization. Even if they have the right skill sets, it will take them a while to understand your culture and processes.
Leadership training is highly attractive to job seekers who want to advance their careers. Define career paths in your dealership and offer leadership training to candidates who have been with you for a period of time.
At some point in life, everyone will have to work closely with people who have different backgrounds, viewpoints, beliefs and goals. This type of training teaches people who work in a team to understand and respect each other’s differences.
Team training helps employees better understand their roles within the organization, and how their actions contribute towards a common organizational goal.
This type of training also teaches employees how to identify dysfunctional behaviors and overcome them. This is critical if you want to develop a culture with all employees moving in the same direction at the same pace. Building stronger teams encourages your employees to work towards a common good, build a stronger organization and provide a better customer experience.
Process training teaches employees the very basics of how to do their jobs. Career development training shows employees that they are valued and how they fit into the organization. Offering development training will not only help you recruit employees, but it will help to keep them engaged, motivated and working towards a common purpose.
Jeremiah Shelton is VP of Training and Development at APCO Holdings, home of the EasyCare and GWC Warranty brands. Shelton oversees the creation and implementation of the company’s dealership training programs.