"Investment in knowledge." Truer words have never been spoken, but unfortunately, too many dealerships across the country look at education as an expense, not an investment. They claim they don't have the time, it's too expensive or they just don't know where to go and get it. Dealers get caught up in the day-to-day of operating a business and as a result, continuing education is overlooked. I'm here to provide solutions to those excuses so your staff can acquire the knowledge they need —knowledge to create a better experience for your customers and ultimately lead to increased sales and revenue for the dealership.
Here are the three excuses that most dealer managers use to avoid training or educating their staff:
Excuse No.1: “We're busy and don't have the time.”
This explanation seems valid. The dealership is running wide open each day, and it's hard enough to find a chance to eat lunch, let alone sit down and learn something. Right? Well not so fast. What about a quick 15 minutes each morning while everyone is just getting their day started? Or 15 minutes at the end of the day?
Here is an idea that I think will be effective: Make each staff member present a sales technique or product demonstration. Each morning can feature a different person. At first, let them decide what they want to demonstrate, but as everyone gets more comfortable with the task, assignments can be made featuring relevant products or techniques. Follow these sessions up with a monthly, more in-depth training session. Buy bagels before the shop opens or pizza after it closes, bring a distributor or manufacturer rep in have them teach you about their product.
Excuse No.2: “It's too expensive.”
I’ve seen an interesting article to this point passed around LinkedIn recently. Person No.1 says, “What if we educate our employees and they leave?” Person No.2 replies, “What if we don’t, and they stay?” You can't afford to have an uneducated staff.
Here is the reality of retail today: The education of your customer is greater than ever. They've done their research, and they know about the product they want to buy. Your staff needs to be the expert. They need to understand what they are selling inside and out. If all that your employees are doing is taking orders, why would a customer not just place the order online from the comfort of their own home? A more educated staff adds value to your dealership.
Excuse No.3: “I don't know where to get it.”
This one is by far the easiest to overcome. Education is everywhere. Begin your search within the dealership. Ask your staff to cross-train each other. Look at the catalogs, brochures and sell sheets that the manufacturers provide. Reach out to the distributors and ask them to help. What about the manufacturer's reps? Ask them to give training to your staff.
Look online. Manufacturer's websites are typically full of information about the products and their features and benefits. Use this information to train your employees. YouTube is another great place to search for information. You can use this medium for more than product training. Sales techniques, marketing, social media, etc. You can take courses in just about anything online. You just need to look for it.
Don't forget about industry events and seminars. The AIMExpo is hosting 32 sessions of training this fall in Columbus. Are you or your staff attending? If so, you need to make sure you sit in on these valuable sessions.
So, all of these ideas are great, but how do I implement a training program like this in my dealership? You simply do it. That's right, take the first step and start. It will be difficult at first, and they'll be mistakes along the way, but starting a program is the first step. It can be simple initially and then grow as you find the confidence and see the results.
If you already have an education program for your staff, I’d be curious to hear more about it. What are you teaching? What is your procedure?
Invest in your staff, and treat them right. Your customers will thank you.
Scott Lukaitis is a writer, photographer and powersports industry professional with more than 25 years of experience from the dealership to the manufacturer level. He owns and provides content for his websites njmotocross.com, lukaitisphoto.com, and scottlukaitis.com and is currently the chief operating officer at Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant.
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