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Employee training is about the journey!

By Forrest Flinn

1-15 Forrest Flinn blogFor the past two years I have been given the gift of writing my monthly blog for all of you, the readers of Powersports Business. I have truly enjoyed the last 24 months of sharing with you and learning from you as well. The key word here is learning from each other. It’s a wonderful thing if you allow yourself to be humbled and learn from those that you teach and or manage.

I started in this industry back in 1996 and wow, what a wonderful journey it has been so far.  I came to this industry fresh out of college and went to work for a software company as a software implementation consultant and trainer. For many years I was in a dealership standing right beside you, teaching you and learning from you or in a classroom. I have worked with literally hundreds of dealerships and thousands of people. Again, an amazing journey so far.

That was close to 22 years ago and my career has evolved and changed over the years. I came into this industry through the training function which is a subset in the field of human resources. I learned a long time ago that in all aspects of your dealership that training is the link that makes a bad dealership good and a good dealership great.

I am not plugging my services or the services of others. Whether your thinking of hiring an operations trainer, a sales trainer, a finance or insurance trainer, there are a lot of options out there in our industry. Do your homework before hiring a trainer or consultant. Call and ask for references from other dealers who have been through their training. It is always wise to do your homework when you have such a big investment in your dealership at stake.

The main point that I am trying to make here is that training does not happen in a vacuum and it most certainly should never be considered an event with a definite beginning and end. Many dealers are sometimes negative or cold shouldered when it comes to training their staff. Some dealers have told tell me that that they sent their employees to training or they had so-and-so in their dealership and nothing really happened or improved. The key in most training scenarios is that there needs to be follow up to initial training. Most of the time this means additional investment of your training dollars but these additional dollars are the best money you can spend. The follow up training component in any training engagement is crucial to the success of any change or improvement you are trying to make at your dealership.

Some dealers have said in the past that if I spend money on training my employees they will just leave me. If you decide that not training your employees will keep them in their roles at the dealership then please Mr. or Mrs. Dealer close your doors. The scariest thing to me is having employees that are not trained and stay forever! The investment in training is only a drop in the bucket when you consider how much it really costs your dealership in the long run of not training employees.

There are other direct and indirect benefits of investing in training your employees. Below are just a few things you have never thought about.

  • Training can help you in your dealership recruiting. Today’s employees want more than just a paycheck at the end of the day. For example, Millennials today expect to be learning new skills. Using training as a recruiting tool just gives you a little bit of an edge when looking for new employees.
  • Training helps your dealership be more profitable and to run more efficiently. Dealership employees will be better equipped to handle an ever changing industry that is based in large part on technology. Being able to know powersports products inside and out can only increase your dealerships profitability.
  • Training can help you keep employees longer. Not only does training help you in retaining good employees it helps you install loyalty and commitment in good employees. Employees are generally looking for new and exciting opportunites to learn and grow. An investment in training might just the thing that keeps them from looking elsewhere to fill their career needs.
  • Investments in training can increase employee engagement and job satisfaction. Having fully engaged and satisfied workers will only increase your dealerships bottom line. And this goes the other way as well. If you do not have engaged and satisfied employees, it will show in the quality of their work and the overall profitability of the dealership.
  • Investments in training is required for a healthy dealership. Ever know that one employee that knows everything? You know the one who if they left the dealership would fall right? What if you spread this knowledge around the dealership through training? Sharing knowledge throughout the dealership is healthy for the business. If you had one million dollars would you invest it in one stock? No! You probably would diversify in order to have a healthy portfolio.

Employee development should be a continuous process with a beginning and no end.  Learning and updating the skills and abilities of your staff only makes good business sense. It should start on day one of employment and continue throughout their tenure. The initial cost of formal training can be shocking at times however the cost of not training can be detrimental to the overall health of your dealership. Employee training can have a huge return on investment if done the correct way and for the right reasons. Now that is good advice that you can actually take to the bank!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Forrest Flinn, MBA, PHR, SMS has been in the motorcycle industry for more than 20 years and has been a true student and leader serving in various capacities. He previously worked as an implementation consultant for Lightspeed and as a general manager with P&L responsibility for a large metro multi-line dealership. Currently Forrest is the managing partner and chief visionary for a consulting firm that specializes in outsourced accounting, human resources, social media strategy, dealership operations consulting and Lightspeed/EVO training.

Contact: forrest@powersportsmc.com

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