If there is one single problem that should be keeping you up at night, it’s staff retention. Staff turnover costs the average dealership $500,000 per year. It costs the auto industry billions of dollars every year. Between staff recruitment and training, lost customer relationships, and inexperienced salespeople, your dealership really can’t afford to be hiring new employees on such a regular basis.
Most people think the most simple solution is to pay them more.
Unfortunately, though, raising salaries does not get to the heart of the problem, nor is it feasible for many dealerships. Most small to mid-size dealers do not think they have the budget to pay higher salaries. And while the commission-based system is a major reason why people avoid or leave the auto industry, it is only one part of the issue.
Employees need to be seen as your most powerful asset in closing sales and building lasting relationships with your customers. They are the face of the dealership, and much of your success depends upon them.
Your Staff As Leads
If there is one group of people that your dealership works hard to recruit and retain, it’s your leads. These people are prioritized above anyone else, as they could turn into paying customers. You do what you can to generate leads, nurture them, and push them down the funnel. Dealerships value these relationships and utilize processes and tools to keep them engaged.
What if dealerships began relating to their staff as if they were leads? Not in the obsessively-tracking-every-move-they-make sort of way. Instead, in how you relate to them as important assets. If retention is the goal for both groups, similar psychology should be applied to keep them at your dealership.
Here are some ways in which you can start treating your staff like leads, and retain them for longer:
Recognize who is qualified
Your dealership spends thousands of dollars on lead gen tools and platforms, all with the goal of generating good, qualified leads. There is nothing more frustrating than nurturing bad leads, or paying for a lead source that consistently delivers bad leads. Vital to your lead nurture process is identifying which leads should be nurtured from the beginning, and which will simply drain your limited resources.
In much the same way, the staff that you hire should be qualified and well-suited to actually work in your dealership. Investing more time in finding the right candidates for open positions will lower the likelihood that they will leave after just a few months, or that they are ill-suited for the dealership way of life. Staff hiring and training is an investment– much like lead gen– and you should not lose the opportunity to add a skilled, professional employee to your team by hiring an unqualified person. You can add value to your dealership by hiring people who come with knowledge of technology and your products, so that they can provide customers with more information.
It’s important to give leads as many opportunities for engagement as possible. In order to make the car buying process seamless, dealerships utilize the latest technology and tools to engage leads at every stage of the funnel. These include integrating advanced chat options like Facebook messenger and “text us” tools, allowing leads to schedule appointments online, and taking advantage of automated email systems to keep in touch.
Leads appreciate the ease and convenience that these tools provide. When it comes to your staff, giving them access to the latest technology has several benefits as well. First, it makes their lives easier. For example, salespeople who are given iPads to aid them will work more efficiently and effectively, as they can easily track and record all of their interactions with customers, right from the showroom. Being introduced to state-of-the-art tools helps employees feel that the dealership is thinking about them and their needs, and is willing to invest in whatever will aid them in achieving their goals.
Further, a dealership that does utilize technology is much more likely to recruit young people. According to a recent study released by Roadster, 90% of millennials said that access to technology was important to them when thinking about their ideal job. Millennials are the biggest pool of workers right now, and they make for good employees: they are driven, forward-thinking, and passionate. Attracting this type of talent by promoting your dealership’s use of technology will bring in young workers, who can give your dealership many years.
Give personalized attention
For leads, this one is fairly obvious– you need to give them personalized attention at every stage of their buying process. They should feel like they are your dealership’s priority, and that you are there to help them with any issue they may be having. A lead should be given all of the information they need up front, and get the sense that there are knowledgeable staff members who are familiar with their situation and needs should any issues come up.
Your staff should feel that you are invested in their success, just as leads feel that they are your priority. By providing them with good training, being available for regular check-ins and feedback, and making yourself available for any issues that arise, you are essentially telling your staff that you care about each of them, and want them to be successful. Your personal relationships with each of your staff members will make them better and more dedicated workers. One Audi dealership lowered its turnover rate by 35% in just two years by making this shift in workplace culture– salespeople were empowered to take on more responsibility, and made the types of decisions that they’d usually have to ask a manager. They were given the opportunity to grow and learn more in this hybrid desk manager– salesperson role. They found more meaning in their job, and achieved more doing work they enjoy.
In sum: it’s all about loyalty
What does retention really mean? For both leads as well as employees, retention only happens where there is loyalty. You do whatever you can to instill a level of trust in your leads, so that they continue to work with your dealership, in the hopes that the process will end in a sale. You should treat your staff the exact way: by providing them with a healthy work environment that supports and empowers them, with opportunities to grow as well as with the latest tools and technology, they will stick with you through it all. Over time they will become more effective employees, and you will reap the benefits.