Article

Tasca Increases Profits And Reduces Turnover

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Sean Wolfington - Also by this author

Tasca Automotive Group is well known for their accomplishments in the industry, and there have been many dealers who have visited their stores to try to figure out how they achieved their success. We had the opportunity to interview Bob Tasca and ask him about their secrets. This article summarizes what he had to say.
“The key to our success is how we measure our Top Line—the customer. If we manage our top line right, the bottom line always falls into place,” said Bob Tasca. Mr. Tasca's focus on serving and helping the customer is the heart of their success and everyone in the Tasca family is passionately committed to serving their customers by giving them the best ownership experience possible. However, as the group has grown from one small dealership to a family auto group, it has not been easy maintaining their mission and ways of doing business. “When you grow as much as we have, you need to add more people, and when you add more people it can be difficult to make sure that each person understands the Tasca Way of doing business. As a matter of fact, at some stages of our growth, our culture and way of doing business was being watered down by new team members. This is when we decided that we needed to adjust our strategy for recruiting, hiring and training our people.”
“The most important asset we have is our people and the fact was that we had not been investing enough in their development. We had just finished building a brand new auto mall and we decided that it was time to invest in our people. We know that if we have a great building with average people, we will probably get average results. Yet, if we have a great facility with great people running it, we know we will get great results. That is when we hired an outside consulting and training company who had a recruiting and training system that was designed for dealer groups. Our goal was to create a positive and consistent Tasca Experience at all of our dealerships and we wanted to use this training system to make sure that we prepared our people to deliver that experience.” Below is an overview of how Tasca improved their results by improving their recruiting and training strategy.
How did you get started?

“We began by having a one-day strategy boot camp where we gathered all of our leadership into an off-site location to define our goals and our plan of action to achieve those goals. Our primary focus was to create a detailed plan for improving how we recruit, hire, train, develop and keep good people. This was the most productive meeting we ever had, because we had our whole team off-site for an entire day, talking about how we can develop a world class team of employees who are passionately committed to serving our customers. By the end of the day we customized our recruiting and training plan for the year. Everyone left with a detailed blueprint and action plan that outlined what we were going to do and by when.”

What has made your recruiting process so successful?

“We outlined a recruiting strategy and process to make sure we hired the right people. We agreed early on that it is much harder to train and develop the wrong people, so we had to begin with how we hire.
 
Here are a few of the things we came up with that are working well today:
  • Through the Internet and ongoing sales ads we prospect for new sales people everyday.
  • We have a designated person who takes all phone calls and applications.
  • We use our Web site as an educational tool and a method for getting applications.
- Our designated hiring coordinator gives every prospective employee an interview package that includes a personality test, a “common questions” sheet and a detailed questionnaire they need to complete before the interviews take place. Applicants are filtered based on their tests and questionnaires.
 
- The remaining applicants are scheduled for interviews on the same day so all of the right people in the dealership are present.
 
- After the interviews, the team gets together to compare their notes from their meetings to determine who will move on to interview with a Tasca.
 
- Prior to any new sales consultant starting they must interview with a Tasca.
 
- The applicants who are selected receive a package welcoming them to the family and it gives them all of the information they need to get off to a great start.
 
When people go through our process, they are excited to come to work with us. They are proud when they complete our thorough recruiting and hiring process and they feel honored to have passed our selective testing and screening process. In the end, they know that they were chosen to join a world-class team because they are among the “best of the best” and they take their job more seriously than they would without the professional process we have now.”
 
How do you ensure that a new employee is productive from the start?
 
“Our goal is to make sure that our new hires get off to a strong start to prepare them for success. We also want to make sure that we baptize our new hires in the Tasca way of doing business so they can deliver the positive Tasca experience to every customer they talk to. Here is a quick overview of our orientation:
 
Part 1: Welcome to the Family—overview of the dealership's history, vision, mission, and principles.
 
Part 2: Welcome to the Dealership—overview of each department and their role within the entire ownership experience.
 
Part 3: Dealership Tour—tour of the dealership and every department.
 
Part 4: Department Internship—Each new hire spends a small amount of time in each department so they understand what customers experience in every department.
 
Part 5: Job Training—detailed training on their particular job activities, processes and procedures. This training is highly interactive and is designed to ensure they leave with the knowledge, skill and confidence to execute their job responsibilities and to be successful.
 
Part 6: Mentorship—Every new team member is given a mentor who is responsible for helping them on the job for the first 120 days. The mentors are chosen based on their results and on their ability to develop people. The mentors also receive unique advantages for being a mentor above and beyond the enjoyment of helping others grow.
 
Part 7: Certification—The new team member is certified in their job after 120 days. By the end of this process they are prepared to succeed and to deliver the Tasca Experience the way we want it to be delivered.
 
We have learned that it is critically important for new people to get off to the right start because if they begin unprepared and uncertain about what they are doing they may begin with a lot of failure which can hurt their confidence and their results. Unfortunately, this can snowball into a series of negative experiences that tarnish their career and lead them to leave our dealership or the business altogether. That is why we make sure that our graduates leave our orientation excited about their career and that they also have the confidence and the skills they need to get the right results. The best part is that success breeds success so they have a quicker positive start which helps set the stage for a positive career and it removes many of the obstacles that could result in lost sales and lost salespeople.”
 
How has training helped improve results in other areas of the business?
 
“The company that helped us set up our system also helped us customize all of our training for the different jobs in the dealership. The most important part about the training modules we created was that they were developed by our leadership team and the department managers. Although they gave us sample processes and best practices, they encouraged us to customize them to fit our dealership. This was critical because our management team took complete ownership of all of the training because they helped create it. One example is our sales and management training. We customized “playbooks” for our salespeople and for our managers or “coaches.” By the end of this exercise, we had our sales and management processes clearly defined in simple and practical playbooks that we train our people on. We also enlarged these playbooks to go in our sales conference room so they could be used for ongoing training and sales meetings. As a result, our sales team has one vision and one process that everyone is dedicated to and today it is just a way of life. This is an example of how our training is shaping our team and our culture to deliver the positive Tasca experience that has gotten us the positive results.
 
Our training system is driven by a desire to always learn, grow and improve, and our people know that if you want to earn more you need to learn more. Some of our training modules include:
  • Sales Process
  • Management and Coaching
  • Phones
  • Internet
  • Unsold follow-up (for salespeople, BDC specialists and managers)
  • Sold follow-up
  • Service Contact and follow-up
  • Service Advisors Process
  • Lease Renewals
  • Retail Renewals and more…
Our strategy is simple….
 
-We know that this is a people business and if you have bad people you will probably get bad results. . . whereas if you have great people you are going to get great results.
 
-We have learned that if we recruit, hire, train, motivate and keep great people we will get great results.
 
-We also realize that all people do not come to us great so we have a plan and a process in place to help the ordinary get extraordinary results.
 
-Although it is critical to have great people, you also need great processes so your success is not only a function of your people, but also a function of the process you have in place.
 
-We know that if we treat our people well they will treat our customers well.”
 
What other ways has your training strategy helped your business focus on the customer?
 
“One of the best things that we did as a result of our new training program was to set up a Customer Relationship Center in our dealership. We started this department to handle inbound Internet leads but after we had a lot of success managing and improving our results in our Internet department, we decided to expand the department to also handle other types of customer opportunities. We learned that if we applied the same focus, people and process to other areas of opportunity, like the phones and follow-up, we would probably have the same success as we did with our Internet leads. We began with our inbound phone leads and we got great results by having the right people and process to sell the appointments.
 
After a short period of time we doubled, tripled and quadrupled our results from our phone leads. We also conduct a lot of positive activities in our CRC for outbound follow- up of unsold prospects, sold customers, service customers and renewals. The best part about our Customer Relationship Center is that it has turned into our best source of marketing because we create more quality traffic that has a higher closing ratio yet the cost per sale is dramatically lower than the sales we get from our traditional advertising. Today, we have more daily appointments for our sales and service departments because we have a pro-active department that has the right people and processes and they are getting the right results because our sales, CSI and loyalty have all increased dramatically.”
 
What is the secret to your success?
 
“In short, we have sold more cars, made more money and satisfied more customers by improving how we sell and service our customers. We have achieved this by having a clearly defined plan for recruiting, hiring, training, motivating and keeping great people. At the same time, we have a clearly defined strategy and process for handling all of our customer contacts from the pre-sale to the sale to the post-sale and the re-sale. It gives us an incredible peace of mind to know that our Tasca experience is being delivered to our customers in each and every one of our stores when we are there and when we are not. As we are discussing this I know we have a process in place to maximize the experience and treatment of every one of our customers. It has become part of our company's DNA. However, success is a journey not a destination so we will continue to strive to grow and improve how we serve our customers and our employees.”

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