In a recent survey of vehicle sales professionals, 95.4% of respondents indicated that training plays a big part in their career development. No surprise there. But 18.4% of them said that it never happens in their dealership.
Every dealership has meetings, but most of them are strictly housekeeping. Managers want to make sure trade-ins are parked, lost keys are found, and appointments are set. In some rare cases, they will throw a few motivational clichés into the mix.
Hey, everyone needs a little pep talk every now and then, and there is nothing wrong with housekeeping. But sustained success depends upon ongoing skills development. Here are three things you can do today to improve your sales and F&I training:
1. Get It on the Calendar.
Most dealers view training as an event. It’s a process, and it should happen every day, early in the day. That won’t happen without a strict schedule.
Create and share a training calendar. Include time for general sessions and individual skills training. Do not fool yourself by scheduling training for later in the day. It will rarely happen and your people will lose interest. I’ve seen too many well-intentioned dealers fail to get their second shift to participate in training. There are too many distractions.
Schedule general sessions at the start of each shift and make sure everyone participates at least twice a week. Commit to your calendar. Your people will love the consistency.
2. Prepare for It.
Dealership life is busy, but as managers, we have to take time to prepare for the training sessions we schedule. That means establishing your topic a few days in advance and never starting a class without practicing your introduction aloud at least once. Sales managers and F&I directors all seem to think they can “wing it.” Few can.
To write an impactful opening statement, decide what do you want the end result of your session to be. What is one thing you want your people to do differently or better as a result of it? Then work from that point. To end your next session on a strong note, try preparing a closing statement as well.
If you have never designed a curriculum, use someone else’s. In the classroom, utilize handouts and encourage note-taking to improve retention.
3. Keep It Short!
Neuroscientists agree that our brains retain information better if it is delivered to us in short bursts, preferably in 15 to 20 minutes. With all the moving parts in the dealership, you want employees to be actively involved during training. This is why keeping your sessions short will be a huge win. They will like the timeframe and retain information better.
The flow of your 15-minute meeting could be something like this: (1) Introduction: 1 minute, (2) Training content: 8 minutes, (3) Role-playing and Q&A: 5 minutes, (4) Closing statement: 1 minute.
Keep things simple and stick to your intended format. Do not allow chatty staffers to hijack the content or Q&A. Keep it positive, and remember: This is a learning environment. Problems and concerns need to be addressed in a different time and place.
No matter how tenured your staff, they all want to do better. They are always capable of producing so much more than they are now. Our job as managers is to develop and maximize their skills to maintain their career trajectories. Recommit to training and deliver it in an efficient and organized manner. Remember, their success equals yours.
Tony Troussov is the F&I director at Morries Automotive Group, which operates 14 dealerships in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Email him at [email protected].