As the car-shopping landscape continues to change and compliance issues continue to dog dealers, investing in training and professional development remains essential.
Offering employees career-development opportunities creates loyalty and fosters a team environment as the dealership grows. As the saying goes, “You are the company you keep,” and it’s imperative to hire great people, retain them to create a solid company culture and manage a car dealer’s positive reputation.
Currently, most of those who work inside an auto dealership function primarily as sales staff, with their main focus on moving cars, parts and labor to the consumer. And with good reason. Car dealers are under tremendous pressure due to sales cycles and quotas set by the manufacturers.
Consequently, training not always is treated as a priority and often is set aside to focus on hitting aggressive monthly sales targets.
With government regulators increasing pressure to adhere strictly to federal regulations across all departments, including Sales, the Business-Development Center, F&I, Fixed Ops, Human Resources and IT, it is imperative auto dealers focus on job training and create educational opportunities to retain quality talent.
Auto dealers themselves typically receive little training in compliance. And they may find themselves with a sales staff that has risen through the ranks with increased salaries but very little professional education.
Strategies for professional development and compliance training include:
- Hire a third-party compliance consultant to conduct an audit to either offer suggestions for the current training department or assist in building a compliance program/training with online courses.
- Invest in pre-employment screening to be sure the dealership is adding the right people to the team and avoiding headaches associated with past criminal or fraudulent activity in the workplace. Screening is a proactive and preventive tool in finding great people at the onset.
- Schedule regular employee-performance reviews and set benchmarks for promotions and pay increases.
- Coordinate internal quarterly audits to ensure employees are working well together. Identify issues and optimize online course development and implementation.
- Require online classes, which are a great tool for existing staff and new employees who don’t have time to attend classes in a traditional academic environment. Dealers should ensure the online education program provides certification upon successful completion.
- Make compliance training a dealership requirement. A recent survey indicated 73% of consumers are more comfortable dealing with dealership staff that has completed compliance training and has certificates of completion on display.
Hiring and retaining talent ultimately affects a dealership’s bottom line. Owners and dealers need to focus on ridding the “everyone-can-be-replaced” culture. Shift to positive development of each employee, celebrating success and longevity.
Retaining solid talent will help foster repeat business. Customers appreciate a relationship with their dealer. Working with familiar sales staff help create a pleasant car-buying experience.
Max Zanan is CEO of Total Dealer Compliance. He can be reached at 917-903-0312 and [email protected].