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Why Professional Training Remains Essential for Car Dealers Car Dealerships are drying out - here's what's essential to save them

By Max Zanan

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As the car shopping landscape continues to change and compliance issues continue to dodge dealers, investing in training and professional development remains essential. Offering employees career development opportunities creates loyalty, and fosters a real team environment as the dealership grows.As the saying goes, "You are the company you keep" and thus, it's imperative to hire great people and retain them to create a solid company culture and manage a car dealer's positive reputation.

Currently those who work inside auto dealerships function primarily as sales staff, with their main focus on moving cars, parts and labor to the consumer. And with good reason. Auto dealers are under tremendous pressure due to sales cycles and quotas set by car manufacturers. Consequently, training is not always treated as a priority and often set aside to spend more time focused on hitting aggressive monthly sales targets.

With increased government regulators looking to car dealerships to strictly adhere to federal regulations connected to departments across the dealership including Sales, BDC, F&I, Fixed Ops, HR and IT, it is imperative that auto dealers focus on their employees lack of job training and create educational opportunities to retain quality talent.

As one would expect, auto dealers and owners themselves typically receive even less training in compliance when they are laser focused on increasing profit margins. Auto dealers find themselves with a sales staff that has risen through the ranks with increased salaries but have received very little professional education.

Such strategies for professional development and compliance training include:

  • Hire a third party compliance consultant to conduct an audit to either offer suggestions for the current training department or assist in buildinga compliance program/training with online courses.
  • Invest in pre-employment screening to be sure dealers are adding the right people to the team and avoiding any headaches associated with criminal or past fraudulent activity in the workplace. Screening is a great proactive and preventive tool in finding great people at the onset.
  • Schedule regular employee performance reviews, benchmarks for promotions and salary increases.
  • Coordinate internal quarterly audits to ensure that the employees are working well together, identify issues and optimize online courses development and implementation.
  • Require online classes – which are a great tool for existing staff and new employees who don't have time to attend classes in a traditional academic environment. Dealers should ensure that the online education program provides certification upon successful completion of the program.
  • Make compliance training a dealership requirement. A recent survey indicated that 73% of consumers are more comfortable dealing with a car dealership staff that has completed compliance training and has certificates of completion on display.

Hiring and retaining talentultimately affects a dealership's bottom line.Owners and dealers need to focus on ridding the "everyone can be replaced' culture to shift to positive development of each employee, celebrating success and longevity. Retaining solid talent will also help to increase repeat business. Customers appreciate having a relationship with their dealer and working with a familiar sales staff helps to create a pleasant car buying experience.

To conclude, professional development is essential for the future of car dealerships and their employees as they face increased competition and federal regulations. Offering employees career training and development opportunities will attract and retain talent to ensure that dealerships maintain their positive reputation.

Max Zanan

Contributory Author

Max Zanan is a seasoned automotive industry expert with nearly 15 years of experience in sales, F&I and dealership consulting. After graduating John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Zanan went on to get his Master’s Degree before starting his career in automotive retail as a salesman at a local, New York City Volkswagen dealership. After working his way up the ranks, Zanan then became the General Manager of a New York City Mitsubishi dealership, which subsequently placed #1 in sales for Mitsubishis in the United States. Following his stint at Mitsubishi, Zanan went on to become the Platform President at Elite Auto Group, where he oversaw three dealerships, with 150 total personnel.

Zanan then transitioned from automotive retail into F&I Products and Training, when he accepted the position of Executive Director with Vehicle Manufacturer’s Services.  As Executive Director, he managed the company’s two largest accounts; Atlantic Auto Group and Plaza Automall. In 2011 Zanan founded IDDS Consulting to enhance sales and promote best practices with automotive dealers across the United States. As Co-Founder and CEO of IDDS Consulting, Zanan utilizes all of the skills he has picked up over the years in order to cohesively mentor dealerships on how to increase revenue and profitability in all departments.  Zanan’s latest venture is Total Dealer Compliance, a company he started to help car dealers mitigate the risks and exposure through compliant practices.  Total Dealer Compliance conducts Compliance Audits and provides an E-Learning platform for dealer personnel to take courses in order to instill the culture of compliance.

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