Stop Punishing Your Staff!

Sentencing your sales staff to an afternoon in front of the TV or computer is no way to motivate them.

September 2014, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by Harlene Doane

Videos are most effective as part of a training curriculum that adds context to the lessons presented.
Videos are most effective as part of a training curriculum that adds context to the lessons presented.

Meeting with dealers all over the country has given me a collection of enough real-life examples to illustrate just about any lesson. Here’s one that still makes me cringe.

One minute, a salesman and a customer were out on the lot, looking at vehicles. The next thing we knew, the salesman was back in the store and his customer was gone. “What the heck just happened?” the sales manager asked. “He was looking for a four-wheel-drive truck, and he didn’t have time to shop today,” the salesman replied.

After the sales manager gave the salesman a piece of his mind — and allowed his blood pressure to drop to a safe level — he ordered the salesman to go to the conference room and watch a video on how to conduct a proper turnover. The salesman walked off and the sales manager turned around, shaking his head in disgust. “Maybe when he learns that, he can handle another up today.”

Believe it or not, there are still countless dealers and managers who operate their training programs like this. If you send your staff to watch videos (online or otherwise) in a conference room — and only when you feel they aren’t doing their job — you are punishing them, not teaching them.

Worse yet, you are failing them. Newly hired and underperforming sales pros don’t need “time outs” and they don’t deserve your scorn. They deserve training. Videos are a big part of most training curricula, and rightly so. They can be a fantastic training aid for the following reasons:

  • They are cost-effective. There is an abundance of free videos on YouTube, including many produced by some of the industry’s top trainers. You may also find videos intended for other industries that can apply to your processes and goals. 
  • They are time-effective. Properly preparing for internal training or shooting your own videos requires a huge investment of time and energy. 
  • They can be inspiring. Trainers may have created videos for topics you have never considered. 

But DVD players and YouTube are not teachers, and they are often a very poor substitute when used alone. After all:

  • Videos created by a third party aren’t likely to align perfectly with your dealership’s culture, mission or policies. They may teach some things you simply don’t want put into practice at your dealership.
  • Playing a video without a trainer or manager present doesn’t allow for questions and clarifications.
  • Few staffers can watch a video and retain all the information it contains. Read/write learners and kinesthetic learners may struggle in a video-only environment.
  • Some employees will simply tune out, space out or take a mental break. Others will spend the time brooding about being punished. 

So stop punishing your staff! You can use videos to improve performance, but you must elect a trainer and ask them to follow this four-step process:

  1. Select a video or videos, watch each in its entirety and note any lessons that may conflict with your sales process or your store’s culture. 
  2. Create a handout that includes a brief outline of each video’s content. 
  3. Watch each video with the staff. Encourage note-taking. Pause the video to share clarifications and answer any questions your trainees may have written down.
  4. At the end, answer any remaining questions and encourage the staff to discuss and debate — and practice, if applicable — the lessons presented in the video. 

Training is not a punishment. In fact, it’s a reward for the hardworking people who have joined your company and dedicated themselves to the realization of your goals. Properly presented, videos can go a long way toward making those goals a reality.

Harlene Doane is COO of DealerStrong and co-organizer of the annual Industry Summit. She is the former editor of Auto Dealer Monthly and has expertise in dealership accounting and operations.

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