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The Day After Training

December 2012, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Jason Heard

We’ve all been there. You and your employees are brimming with excitement after completing a fantastic training session. People are exchanging high-fives, communication is better than ever, and everyone is ready to put those great lessons to work. Everything is right with the world — that is, until the next day rolls around. Some of that energy has worn off and everyone is waiting to see what happens next.

Some people immediately jump into action, thinking that everything in the store is broken. They try to implement everything they learned at once, only to be disappointed when things don’t change overnight. Confusion then sets in. Another meeting is convened to figure out why things aren’t better. Does that sound familiar?

Well, the reason most training fails out of the gate is because no one knows where change needs to begin. It’s not that training is a waste of time, it’s that no one developed a plan of action to implement what was learned. So, to help, let’s review five things your store can do the day after training to make sure that it sticks:

1. Start Small: Make a list of three to five things you learned during the training session to implement right away. For now, keep time frames out of the equation. You just need to develop a list and prioritize which items you need to pick off first.

You may want to begin with the action item that’s simplest to begin. It can also be the item that will make the biggest financial impact on the store. And once that first action item is identified, see if it can be broken down further.

For example, if you want to implement a lesson that will help your store hold more gross on a trade, maybe the trick to bringing about that change is to conduct more silent walkarounds. Maybe your team needs to use third-party sites to help back up appraisals, or maybe it needs to use more realistic reconditioning numbers. Whatever the case is, the key is to break down the change so people understand what’s expected. Remember, the key is to make progress in whatever you’re trying to implement.

2. Be Clear: You must clearly define what results you’re after. Who is going to be charged with introducing the change, who is going to follow up with it and who is going to hold whom responsible? You must also decide whether there will be rewards, consequences or both. Clearly mapping everything out will save you time and frustration down the road, because you won’t have people saying they didn’t know what to do or how to do it.

3. Sell it: Hey, we do this every day, right? The same goes with a new plan or process; you need to get buy-in, particularly from your key people. And to do that, you need to answer the following questions: Why are we doing this? What is the benefit? Will it make things easier? Will it make things more profitable? Is there recognition in it?

But the main question you need to answer for your employees is: what’s in it for me? Remember, if people do things because they want to, everyone is better off. When people do things because they have to, sure, the job will get done, but with a lot less profit. Just remember that everyone is motivated for different reasons. Some people may want to be compensated, while others will do what’s needed for the good of the dealership. So, there may be multiple ways of getting employee buy-in.

4. Take Action: You’ve clarified the goal and sold it to your key people, now it’s time to sell it to the rest of your employees with a high-octane kickoff meeting. Bring the snacks, crank up the music and have some fun. This is your chance to get everyone pumped up about the new plan.

ust remember, when introducing a new item or behavior, reinforcement is key. That’s why starting small is so important, why it’s critical that the goal be defined, and why rewarding employees for buying into the new direction is so important. And when employees get it right, tell them and everyone else. When something is done wrong, correct the action in private.

It’s also important that you use the kickoff meeting to make clear who is doing what. This will help when your team’s enthusiasm starts to fade, as you need to know without doubt who is going to get the jumper cables and crank it back up.

5. Expect Challenges: There’s no such thing as a problem when making big changes, only challenges. And challenges should be viewed as your team’s chance to overcome and improve, because they will arise. It could be the tenured 10-car-a-month guy who is not interested in changing. Maybe it’s a new person who did it differently at his or her previous dealership. So don’t be surprised when challenges emerge.

It’s also critical that you keep an open mind, as there might be a better way of doing things. And if you are forced to change things slightly, no worries, just re-clarify, resell, and continue to take action. Just remember that airplanes spend most of the time in the air off course, which is why there’s a pilot in the cockpit to make sure it gets to where it needs to go.

The last step is to keep going, as in pick you next action item and repeat the previous five steps. Remember, training is important and it does work. In most cases, how the training is implemented is what needs to change. 

Jason Heard is an independent sales trainer based in Olathe, Kan. He can be reached at jason.heard@bobit.com.

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