Employee Retention: Why Are We Going Backwards?

in Mar 13, 2019

A recent article in Automotive News reports that the three-year employee retention rate at dealerships reached a new low, dropping by 2%. In fact, the study showed that only 1/3 of sales consultants stay at a dealership for 3 years or longer. The article went on to share that the average tenure for sales consultants has steadily dropped since 2011, when it was about 3.8 years. Last year? 2.4 years. According to the article the result is: “…reduced productivity, reduced median and average earnings, and reduced dealership profitability.”

What’s the answer to retaining employees? Perhaps we should start looking outside of our industry, analyzing companies that people love to work for and figuring out which of those attributes we can adopt in dealerships.

Consider starting by simply asking employees if they’re happy or not, what could be changed that would make the dealership a better place to work, etc. However, be sure to do this anonymously, or you probably won’t get honest answers. Then sit back and be prepared because some of the answers you get may sting. You can’t, however, make changes without knowing what’s wrong and unhappy employees generally aren’t going to tell you to your face.

Our workforce is getting younger. These days, many aren’t willing to work under the taxing conditions that we experienced. And it’s usually not because they’re lazy, or have a poor work ethic. It’s because our society and culture has changed. People prioritize things differently. And this trend isn’t going away. It’s only going to keep shifting

If we continue to try and operate dealerships the same way as 10 years ago – mandating “bells” and 70+ hour work weeks – we’re going to keep watching the front door revolving – existing employees leaving and new faces coming in. And if you don’t think your customers notice, you’d be sadly mistaken.

Making employee retention a priority can, by itself, improve customer experience and loyalty. In addition, you will save money that would otherwise have been spent hiring and training new staff. Isn’t the whole point of retention and loyalty to increase revenue? Well those two words apply just as much to your employees as they do to your customers. Never forget that.

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