Article

The Reality of Training

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jeff Smelley - Also by this author

Training is the most overlooked, undervalued investment missing in most dealerships, therefore it is sporadic, unplanned and ultimately lives down to expectations. Consequently, we tend to rely on “On the Job Training” (OJT) which costs the most money and yields the least results. This reality can be cured by understanding WHAT training really is, the benefits of training and committing to an ongoing training plan.

Training is a consistent means of extending an employee’s knowledge and capabilities of their role in your organization (WHAT), the reason for performing that role and its relative importance to the organization (WHY), the method by which they will execute their responsibilities to an acceptable level (HOW) and the intended completion of those same responsibilities (WHEN). Training presents information, both new and old, to the trainee. Information creates understanding, which when applied back at the dealership improves performance. Improved performance increases effectiveness and subsequently profits.

Often members of an organization will lose focus of the bigger picture with managers and staff focusing on the details of their particular job(s) rather than the effect of their performance has on the organization as a whole. Training is an excellent means of refocusing their attention to the team.

Training is an opportunity to introduce new ideas from outside the dealership. Seminars, trade shows and vendor-based training bring a fresh, outside look at your dealership operation which may identify improvements that would otherwise be overlooked. Such ideas and information are in abundance, but be selective in embracing the ideas presented. Not every idea or method learned in seminars will be of a benefit in your dealership. While this may seem like an obvious distinction to make, you can be overzealous in the search for an answer to a problem.

The key to realizing benefits from training is to apply that training in your daily dealership activity. Managers that have attended seminars should return to the dealership eager to use the information they have learned. If each manager disseminates the pertinent information they received to their staff and then integrates the useful information into the daily routine, you will see a significant benefit from your training investment. If, however, your managers return to work, get caught up in the routine and fail to implement any of the techniques learned, then you will have gained nothing. This is where training most often fails. It is entirely controllable but certainly not automatic. Even managers require supervision to assure that they are diligent in communicating the information obtained and then follow up consistently enough to see results. Remember that the absence of effort, not the absence of information, is most often the failing point.

Top management should design a training program consisting of internal education, trade seminars and other outsourced education. Look to your vendors for additional training resources because they have a vested interest in helping you create a smooth running business. Create a cohesive, progressive plan where each step builds upon the last and be sure to communicate the objective of implementing the content of your training. Your training plan should address all levels of your dealership. Management level people will benefit greatly from attending seminars together. This encourages a team attitude and uniformity of information. Successful implementation of changes requires cooperative effort between departments and cooperation is enhanced when there is a common goal with understood benefits.

Plan your training, stick to the plan and commit to the long view. Remember that nothing happens until we take the first step.

Vol 2, Issue 9

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