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Welcome to NCM's Up to Speed Blog

Why Dealers Are Talking About Expense Control and Training

Kevin Cunningham
Written By: Kevin Cunningham
Posted on October 31, 2019

One of the great outcomes of facilitating NCM 20 Group meetings is the discussion of innovative members who truly, and consistently, think outside the norm. When a forward-thinking 20 Group member brings a new idea to the table, it’s thrilling to see the interaction between the rest of the group. Other members ask probing questions and raise relevant concerns, causing those innovative members to further defend and explain their rationale for implementing their new process or procedure. I love this aspect of 20 Group membership— I get to witness the passion members have for uncovering the next idea to give their customers a better experience while giving their dealership the competitive advantage. Lately, the conversations have revolved around two time-proven areas:

Training and Expense Control

When the market crashed in 2008, our 20 Group meeting rooms were frenzied. Our Benchmark® data revealed dealerships were making massive employment cuts and discussions had intensified scrutiny over how dollars were spent in fellow member’s operations. As the market settled down, and business began to resume at a normal pace, our data showed us something else: Dealers were showing some of the highest returns on investment, highest gross profit per employee (all in revenue), and high customer satisfaction. How did this happen? Dealers had to make difficult choices on their personnel, and those who were left on staff had the largest impact on their operations success. Our clients invested in their chosen teammates with a more intensified focus on training because they needed every member of their team to be the best they could be.

The outcomes were outstanding:

  • Managers became better at leading their teams
  • Employees were better at setting expectations
  • And it became easier to hold teammates accountable for proper execution.

These members saw their numbers improve and their stores gravitate to the left in their NCM 20 Group composites (where the top performing dealers are ranked). While this was gratifying to watch, the better outcome was a reduction in turnover of dealership associates. Employees were staying because they were more successful in their role and the environment was more consistent. From a dealer standpoint, this reduction in turnover clearly lead to lower employment costs. As any dealer can attest, we all know how expensive it is to replace people in our organization.


The traditional business model in this industry has changed. Today, we see successful dealers who are thinking ahead, making the appropriate plans, and innovating their processes around buyers looking for a different way to purchase vehicles. At the same time, there are many dealers who don’t see the need for change and are struggling to compete. I encourage you to look at your team and professionally assess their value to your customers and your organization’s success. If they are not helping the business succeed, ask yourself:

  • Does the employee show the desire to perform at their best?
  • Are they ensuring the best possible outcomes by their actions?
  • Have you shown your employee the correct way to perform their role in your store?
  • Were they originally taught bad habits?

If your employees are trying their best to be successful, and not meeting expectations, additional training could be your answer. If it is a commitment issue, it’s time to coach and council. This will help you learn if your associate possesses the right characteristics and skillset to stay on board.

More often than not, when training conversations take place in our 20 Group meetings, members will look at collegiate and professional sports for examples. In that specific industry, the intensity and dedication to training programs are unmatched. When we see dealers apply this same approach to their team, we see rapid success. If you want to quickly see an increase in performance, profitability, and employee commitment, give your associates more training, coaching, and attention. Your bottom line will thank you.

For some additional reading from our 20 Group Moderators, please check out some of our other articles:
For some additional information on our NCM Institute's in-depth management and leadership training, please check out the following courses:
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