There is no question that a trained workforce is crucial to the overall success of your dealership. The manufacturer (and your customers) require talented, knowledgeable, and courteous personnel in each department to assist with their needs. We know that all dealership executives understand the difficulties of finding the right person to fill each spot. (If you need to start by dedicating some time outside of your dealership to learn the best ways to fill these spots, check this out.) But when it comes to retaining this talent in the long term, how do we ensure that our staff remains sharp and engaged each day?
The Answer: Training
If you were to ask the department heads in your dealership, I think they would agree that training is crucial to the success of their division. However, few have a regimented training program currently in place for all their employees. If training is so critical, and we all agree on its importance, how is it not a priority? The most common excuse I hear is that "there isn't enough time in the day." However, I would suggest that the time used to implement a training program will not only lead to a more engaged team, but will also save you time on recruitment and retraining efforts down the road.
When you think back to the moment you hired each employee, more than likely, you provided them training for their role. From the employee's perspective, they are eager to learn and highly engaged in the work they will be performing. They want to excel in their new role, and the opportunity to train is an exciting chance to become a valued member of your team. This is the attitude we want to maintain!
Next, think about how your training was executed. How long did you provide the training? Did you instruct your employee to sit in front of a computer and learn on their own, or did you provide a hands-on experience? If they ended up leaving your organization, was it because you failed to commit to your promise of training? Many times, it is the lack of a properly executed training program that disengages an employee and starts them down the track of "what could my career be like outside of this company?"
Start implementing change
To change the way you train, the shift must start at the top. Developing a staff of high performers is the responsibility of every manager in the organization. Yes, this includes the general manager and dealer principal/owner. Leaders must be disciplined in their priorities to have a long-term payoff with minimal turnover. Without this mindset, your organization will continue to fall back into old patterns and low staff retention.
Who are the current managers you have in place in each department? It is very common for individuals who advance in their careers to forget how they got there. As their responsibilities grow in the organization, they can quickly become overwhelmed with pressures that are much less important than training. One of the most critical competencies of leaders is their ability to build talent. If your leaders can assemble a gifted team around them, the pressure they feel daily will be alleviated. Plus, their department will be more productive and profitable. It's a win-win situation for everyone.
Instruct your leaders to do these daily:
- Maintain (or create) a culture of talent and skill building.
- Make time for real training with your current staff.
- Build and follow a solid process that everyone is accountable to follow.
- Measure what you manage, and find areas for improvement.
- Look for new ways to train, coach, and motivate your staff.
It is no secret that an excellent training program is an essential tool for the long-term success of your business. It can allow you to retain your best employees, improve your company culture, and ultimately save time and resources. We have helped many dealerships across the United States and Canada implement effective training programs by working directly with their department heads. If you would like to utilize our decades of experience at your dealership, we offer multiple NCMi courses to transform your managers into leaders.