“You don’t build a business, you build people—then your people will build your business!” –Zig Ziglar
Wow! That’s powerful, isn’t it? Zig Ziglar was my hero for over 40 years. Even after his passing, his words still inspire me.
Business men and women always say people are their most valuable resource; yet all too often they don’t provide the resources and training necessary to grow their people.
To clarify, I’m talking about consistent, intentional, planned training. Practice, drill, and rehearse. Follow-up and accountability. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of taking care of business that training gets pushed to the back burner.
When training does occur, it is often used as punishment. I’ve actually heard service managers tell their advisors, “Whoever doesn’t hit their numbers this month will have to go to training!” Oh brother! Don’t be the moron that says that.
Service departments can never stop training. The “knowledge retention” curve declines quickly, meaning people only remember 10% of what they learn. Therefore, constant reinforcement is necessary to turn knowledge into action, and to turn action into revenue.
Training is never ‘one and done.’ No one is ever completely trained—rather, it is an ongoing career-long process.
Some managers say building their people is a waste of time—they’ll just quit and move on. I have heard it said that it is far better to train your people and have them leave than it is to not train your people and have them stay!
Max Zanan wrote a wonderful little book called “Perfect Dealership” (perfectdealership.com). It is a quick read that’s packed with nuggets of practical advice on running a dealership.
Zanan wraps up the book with the Ten Commandments of Success. Three of them focus on personnel development:
- Remember, automotive retail is a career, not a temporary gig.
I believe techs get it, and they’ve made a huge investment in their tools to further their careers. I think the biggest challenge dealers have with techs is keeping them at your dealership. Working conditions, work load (read that as not enough work to do), production-based pay plans, and continuing training are all potential deal breakers. Lube techs and service advisors often view their jobs as less of a long-term career path. These folks are way too transient and often bounce from dealership to dealership. I am truly amazed at the turnover of advisors. If a guy is an order-taker at the Toyota store, then he’ll be an order-taker if he gets hired at the Ford dealership across town.
- Focus on employee development that provides a path for career growth.
Remember what Zig says: build your people and they will build your business. Don’t get cynical because of a handful of jerks that don’t want to grow and get better. Most of your people are good people that want to do better; they aspire to more—more money, more responsibility, more productivity, more respect.
- Attract a better workforce by having better pay plans, schedules, and training.
I get the part about pay plans and training, but schedules? I’m motivated by money and I thrive on a production-based pay plan, but not everyone does. There is a growing segment of the workforce that values time off and flexible schedules. They aren’t lazy, they don’t want something for nothing, they just want it on their schedule. A three-day weekend and two Saturdays off per month might be a game-changer for these folks. As a manager, don’t have an attitude that says, “hey, I’m in charge and my people will work when I tell them to work.” At least look into what motivates your people and see if you can accommodate them. Maybe you could tie sales production to flex-time off. Going back to pay plans, I’ve seen dozens of advisors that believe the only way to get a raise is to move to a different dealership. Tragically, all too often, they’re right. Just when they start making good money, the pay plan changes and out the door they go.
You must be intentional with your training. Schedule a service sales meeting with all fixed ops personnel once a month. Make it a big deal where you feed everyone, celebrate victories, and reward production.
Train your service advisors on how to sell. I’d suggest 15-30 minutes per week. Consistently reinforce the message. Spend half the time reviewing last week’s training and the remainder on new material.
If you’re hung up on exactly what to do, then subscribe to a blog, podcast, or video series from Dave Anderson. Show one clip at each weekly training session. Give your team access to Dave’s library of free resources (learntolead.com)
You might also want to check out all the service advisor sales training resources provided by Jeff Cowan (automotiveservicetraining.com). Jeff has an amazing ability to simplify word tracks that advisors can use to close the sale.
Lastly, I work with a team of over 700 fixed ops trainers spread out across North America. Let me know if you’d like to connect with one of them for live in-dealership training.
If you build your people in 2019, if you invest in their development and growth, then they will build your fixed ops department into a vibrant revenue stream for your dealership.
Happy sales to you and Happy New Year!