Major UK Car Dealer Group Achieves Record Low Staff Turnover Thanks to Innovative Training

One of the UK’s largest retail automotive groups has tackled the issue of high turnover of sales staff with an innovative induction programme for new recruits.

“If staff don’t develop in the first three months, they never will and we don’t want them” says John Clark Motor Group

Whilst some franchised car dealers grapple with staff turnover in sales and aftersales of as much as 100% every year and the industry is stymied by an average churn rate of at least 40%, one of the UK’s largest retail automotive groups has bucked this trend thanks to innovative “on-boarding” of new recruits.

Working in partnership with specialist consultants, Symco Training, Scotland based John Clark Motor Group, which employs over 1200 colleagues across 30 dealerships, has reduced its annual sales staff turnover to just 7% through a video-based, ‘at desk’ coaching programme. Overall staff turnover for the business is 19%, an all-time low.

“The first three months are critical in building the foundations for a rewarding and mutually profitable relationship. We’ve been able to identify any poor habits and support any shortcomings, as well as root out a few bad apples. We want our staff to develop from the moment they walk in, so if they don’t progress in that time, then ultimately they aren’t a good fit for our business.”


“The need to deliver for our customers to a consistently high level across the whole company means employees need to embrace our learning culture from day one,” said Colin McAllister, Group Training and Development Manager for John Clark Motor Group.

“We found traditional induction methods, including shadowing work colleagues, who are already under pressure in the sales and aftersales environment, to be counter-productive,” continued McAllister. “At one of our dealerships, we experienced turnover of service advisors every five weeks but since we’ve been working with Symco on this unique approach, our latest recruit has been with us for almost a year now.”

Explaining his own experience, Sales Executive for John Clark Motor Group, Brodie Paterson, said:

“In my previous dealership role, I had minimal training, which often involved looking at how not to do things or shadowing poor performing sales people. Since starting at John Clark Motor Group I’ve taken things back to basics and applied new techniques, thanks to the programme, which has yielded results. It’s a constant learning process that works around my schedule.”

Darren Bedford, Symco’s Business Development Manager, said many dealers are reluctant to invest in training new staff until they’ve passed the legal probationary period:

“For those businesses that do, which are in the minority, many send them away on courses just after they’ve arrived, that can be just as damaging. We advocate giving people the tools to learn skills in situ, which they can apply immediately. By helping new starters to grow in confidence and competence, it’s much more likely that the business will benefit sooner from retained, profitable staff.”

A survey by the Institute of Customer Service in 2015 highlighted that poor staff was one of the main reasons for the continuing drop in customer satisfaction within the automotive sector.


Developed as a suite of short videos, Symco’s “The First 90 Days” demonstrates a range of techniques and processes with the aim of sharpening skills, building confidence and creating a culture of learning within the dealership. Dealers can request a free, no obligation demo by contacting Darren Bedford at Symco Training.

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