Article

Make Training A Daily Business: Practice It For Sustained Results

January 2009, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Michael Rees - Also by this author

Recruiting new people is a tough task, but it is worth investing the time (and money) to do the job right. Many dealers and managers think once they have recruited successfully, they can get back to business as usual. They think, “No need to worry about the staff problem now; we have that problem handled.”

Some dealers don’t consider training to be a part of normal business. They think of it as something to do when business is slow or when they aren’t closing enough deals. I want you to consider having a formal training program as part of your normal business. You have invested wisely in getting the right people on your bus; similarly, make sure you invest in keeping them on your bus.

New employees need to know what you expect from them today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year. For example, when you last hired someone, did you sit them down that first morning and let them know what you wanted them to do that day and what results were expected of them? If you don’t do this, it will be impossible for your employees to live up to your expectations. They have to know what those expectations are.

Your employees need complete job descriptions that include your expectations and how those expectations will be measured in as much detail as possible. Writing a job description like this is not an easy task. Once they have job descriptions, you have to make sure they have everything they need to do their job – both physically and mentally. Do they have the necessary tools so they can perform to your expectations? Physical tools are relatively easy to acquire. If you don’t have them already, make a list and send someone to buy them.

Mental tools are harder to acquire, but just as important. Do the employees know how to do the job? If they are raw recruits, they probably don’t, so make a plan to get them trained. How long will it take them to acquire this knowledge? My answer to this: forever. They will never stop acquiring new knowledge to do their job better.

Training is something that you do, not something that you have done. That means we should never stop training, our employees or ourselves. Back to what I said earlier – consider training as a normal part of your business. It needs to be as much a daily routine as meeting with your managers to discuss business.

In sales, there are two main training topics – product knowledge and sales training.
Product knowledge can be acquired through various channels – brochures, videos, manufacturers and mystery shopping, to name a few. Some dealerships put their new recruits in a room all day long and tell them to watch videos until they know enough to sell their cars. It’s as if they don’t know what to do with these newbies on their first day, and by doing this, it gets them out of the way so they don’t take up anyone’s time while they are “learning”.

While this is better than doing nothing, this is hardly a good way to train them. Training requires teaching, practicing and critiquing. Your new recruits need a coach—someone to help them learn and practice and someone to critique them, so they can improve and continually hone their skills. This coach needs to test them on their product knowledge and give them tips as to what customers will want to know about the product.

Sales training is essential if you want results. Train your people on how to meet and greet your customers properly and how to take control and ask questions properly. Your coach needs to take your team through all the steps to the sale; each dealership is different and may have six, eight, 10, 13 or 15 steps they need to learn. Most likely, even though there are different numbers of steps to the process, these processes are all similar to each other. It doesn’t matter how many steps you have, as long as you have a sales process clearly defined for them to follow.

Once you have a defined sales process, let your coach take the time and effort to train everyone on the ins and outs of each step. Be sure to explain the order in which each step takes place and why, what obstacles they are likely to run in to, and how they should overcome them.

The first week on the job, this training will need to be full-time. Don’t have your recruits practice on your customers; they should practice on each other before you allow them to care for a customer. Once you are comfortable with how your recruits handle themselves in a role-play situation, allow them to take overflow customers, but under the watchful eye of their coach.

Later, you can start to ease off training as a full-time deal, but make sure it still happens every day. You should have training sessions for all your salespeople on a daily basis if they are to stay sharp and focused. Just consider the best sportspeople. They train every day if they want to stay at the top; we should do the same. If someone is training to lift weights and his goal is to bench-press 300 pounds, once he lifts the 300 pounds he won’t stop training and expect to still lift that 300 pounds in two to three weeks when he tries again. Just as we train everyday to stay physically fit, we need to train everyday to stay mentally fit and alert.

Once you have the right people, invest in their continual training, so they can grow with you. The more you train them, the more likely you will be to keep them, and your recruiting expense will drop dramatically. Make sure you include training as part of your normal business routine. It will more than pay for itself.

Vol 4, Issue 12

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