The automotive industry, in general, has an employee retention problem. A BIG one. And especially big in dealership’s sales departments. Sure, there are exceptions. However, NADA reports that sales turnover in dealerships averages 70 percent. That’s a lot!
I’m sure that dealerships would rather not have this issue — so why is it happening? Well, an article I recently read in Forbes shines a really interesting light on this.
The irony of this article is that it is giving advice to job seekers, not employers. It provides advice about hiring behaviors to beware of when interviewing for positions. As I read this piece, it struck me how familiar some of these behaviors are when it comes to how dealerships hire.
In my many years in the automotive industry, it has not been uncommon for dealerships to be in a perpetual hiring mode. People leave and the dealership needs new people on staff to cover the floor and assist customers. Nobody wants to lose a sale because a customer gets irritated by having to wait due to lack of assistance. So, what does the dealership do? They hire anybody that walks in the door. Don’t get me wrong, many dealerships require drug testing, etc., for potential hires. But should the biggest concern when hiring be availability, rather than the quality of the potential new hire and how well they might fit into the dealership’s culture? Shouldn’t it be important to establish if the person is motivated, ready to learn and willing to work as a team player to create a positive customer experience? If not, your dealership is probably setting itself up for failure.
The automotive industry is a demanding one. Hours are long, financial stability can be stressful (especially for commissioned salespeople) and management can change quickly, adding a new element of inconsistency to processes and expectations.
These working conditions are never really explained to a prospect. Most conversations revolve around earning potential, and a lot of managers only care whether a potential salesperson is aggressive and ambitious… and, most importantly, available… as in; “Can you start tomorrow?”
In essence; continuing to hire warm bodies to cover the showroom, rather than truly identifying people who will fit in and stay awhile, can be a catalyst for employee defection in sales that continues to occur to this day. Remember, the goal here is employee retention.
It doesn’t matter how many interviews you put an applicant through if managers are only concerned with ambition and availability. Because, in the long run, that applicant probably isn’t going to stick around.
Take the time to truly screen applicants and stop simply hiring warm bodies. My guess is that you will start seeing less turnover.