Training, probably the most important ingredient in the success of your business plan, does not have to be difficult or costly.
Those who know me at all know that I read voraciously. I read every thing that I can get my hands on about the automotive retail and auto finance industry. More specifically, I think that I have read every article pertinent to Special Finance that has ever been published. I have my favorite authors, like Tom Hudson, and many others who willingly share their years of experience with the industry. I also spend an awful lot of time reading the writings of those with whom I disagree. And, believe it or not, there are times I learn something from them, as well.
Recently, an inordinate number of writers have suggested that dealers are not spending enough time and effort training their sales and management staff. This has been an unspoken theme in our industry since Henry decided that the automobile belonged to the masses. But recently I am again hearing the call to train from all quarters. And no matter who issues that call, I am going to line up behind them in support. I have preached the training mantra for more years than I care to calculate. And daily, as I visit dealerships, I try to impart bits of wisdom to help train new and old alike. You can never tell where you are going to pick up that little idea that may add a delivery or two each month.
I guess that I need to tell you about my definition of training. It may be a bit different than you think. As I make my daily rounds and see issues that I feel impact a dealer’s operation, I will make mention of that fact, usually with a suggestion that the person or persons involved could benefit from some ongoing training. The usual response falls somewhere in the category of “we can’t afford it” or “we are too short handed to send someone.” Herein lays the crux of the issue. Training does not necessarily involve formal education sessions. Yes, seminars, workshops, roundtables and the like are great and everyone should take advantage when they can.
But real training is an everyday thing!
Training should be part of the job of every member of your staff, every working day of the month. I am not talking about tapes or CD sets or old videos by the old sales legends. I am talking about the volumes of material that are available in print and online every single day. Why not assign this task to one of your managers or take on the job yourself? Pick a current or archived article that you feel would impact a current issue at your store. Every day, pass out copies to everyone at a short ten minute meeting and discuss the subject matter. Remember, in this situation, there is no right or wrong. At the end of the meeting, pick someone else to provide the content for tomorrow’s meeting. Make it a round robin and you will be amazed at the topics that will be presented. Your staff will start reading articles to pick one for the ongoing discussions. Reading is training! It is as simple as that! Ten minutes of daily training will add up to about 40 hours a year on average. That will put your staff in the top 10%.
A few years ago, I wrote: “Occasionally, someone will put a new spin or twist on an old idea that makes all the sense in the world. My philosophy is that if I take the time to attend a sales training session and pick up just one simple idea to help me and/or my customers and clients make one additional sale a week, then the time was well spent. We can all learn constantly. Some wise sage once said “Learning is like peddling a bicycle with a group of friends. Once you stop, it won’t be long before you are behind the pack.” That is truer today that it has ever been.
Sales training needs to be an ongoing part of your operational business plan.
Incorporate a ten minute, informal, training session into every day and watch as your sales and profits reach and exceed your goals.
Just my two cents worth!
Dick Hassberger, of Lake Orion, Michigan is a veteran of over 50 years in the Automotive Financing and Leasing industry, starting his career with the former Wayne Oakland Bank in September 1960. Dick currently represents VOISYS in Michigan. He has held executive positions with Major Banks, Lending Institutions and Leasing companies and has accumulated a vast store of knowledge in the automotive financing industry, which he regularly shares with his client dealerships as well as readers of this blog. Dick was a regular author for World of Special Finance Magazine.