Providing effective and appropriate training to new staff would seem like a no-brainer in a competitive industry setting, but all too often it is something that gets overlooked by car dealerships. Sometimes it is down to time pressures or the availability of a suitable training course, and some dealers adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude.
Either way, it was a situation that Symco Training decided needed addressing.
A well-established company providing traditional training to all front of house staff, Symco has recently launched its innovative Sales Fitness Programme. What’s different is that the training comes directly to the delegate’s desk, delivered online daily in five to 15-minute bursts. A little but often approach compared with days away from the dealership, not to mention the additional costs such as accommodation and travel.
Darren Bedford, Symco’s sales director, explains the thinking behind the somewhat revolutionary programme: ‘Years ago people would go away training for three or four days at a time and that’s just not practical these days.
‘The programme came about from the need to satisfy our clients’ requirements. We wanted to bring our training to the people and it’s all about reaching them in their new roles from day one.
‘Often we hear about people who don’t get any training until their probationary period has ended, a ‘‘let’s train them once we’ve decided they are the right people’’ attitude, or there has not been a training course available for a couple of months.’
Two of the current Symco offerings make the case. Launched three months ago, ‘The First 90 Days’ is aimed squarely at sales executives and delivers 90 modules direct to the ‘delegate’.
Added to the programme last month, ‘Today’s Service Advisor’ focuses on making the VHC process effective, converting red work, selling ancillary products or services, and objection handling.
In each case, the training bulletins include a series of short daily videos, quizzes, tasks and coaching tips.
The brevity of the daily dosage means that they can be easily coped with irrespective of what else is going on in the workplace.
Each course costs just £249 per delegate and, to judge by the early feedback on the programme, is turning out to be money well invested. Symco regularly updates managers on the delegate’s progress within the online programme.
‘The motor trade is quick to say that people are its greatest asset,’ says Bedford, ‘but in reality the industry is doing itself a disservice.
‘There needs to be a change in attitude towards new staff which will deliver better returns down the line. The first three months can make or break a career in car sales so it’s critical that the time and money spent in recruiting a new person is not wasted.
‘New starters are often left to their own devices with the added pressure of competing against colleagues who, understandably, may not wish to pass on their hard-earned skills.
‘Too many dealerships make the mistake of failing to assist sales people from the outset, which ends up costing them more if they leave.’
Bedford acknowledges that staff turnover and retention are a deep-rooted and long-standing issue within the industry and does not make any bold claims that the Symco approach will change things overnight, but he does make the case that better trained and more confident staff are more likely to be engaged and benefit the organisation.
‘The turnover rate is enormous and it’s seldom been any different in all the years I have spent in the industry,’says Bedford.
‘But when you have taken on a sales adviser and paid upwards of £1,500 in recruitment costs, £249 to make sure they are getting the correct training is a tiny investment to make.
‘Furthermore, if it’s an investment that maybe means they won’t be walking away during their probationary period, or better still ensures those who stay are better equipped to perform their role, why wouldn’t you call and get your team enrolled today?’