For someone who has an interest in a motor industry executive search company, you would perhaps not expect me to be extolling the virtues of settled staff . However one of the key imperatives to a successful motor dealership is a settled, engaged, and motivated workforce at all levels.
It is encouraging to see a very recent press release from one of the PLC dealer groups quoting a guaranteed income level for sales staff during their first year of employment. Other dealer groups engage in similar incentives by providing similar commission guarantees. This practice will need to be built upon and developed if we are to attract and retain quality staff in our dealerships, along with additional initiatives similar to that of other industries.
Taking a look at just one motor trade job board as I write this article there are 539 car sales vacancies advertised and we can at the very least double this number, for those advertised on individual company websites. This gives us an indication of the difficulties involved in attracting and retaining staff and tells us why motor retail companies are changing their stance towards this issue and improving their offering.
There is obviously an ongoing requirement for sales staff to be incentivised in some way, however the wrong pay plan can bring out the wrong behavioural characteristics in staff which can be both counter productive and ultimately damage your business. Similarly the involvement of the FCA in the selling of financial products is already having an effect on the selling of point of sale ( POS) finance and the remuneration structure of business managers.
Whilst attractive salary levels are a key imperative for attracting and retaining staff, this is not the only consideration to make when deciding on the overall package. Staff need to feel valued and should be encompassed in decision making processes of their dealership. When working on dealership development and turnarounds, a tactic that I employ is that each sales meeting is chaired by a different member of staff. This encourages staff involvement and gives staff the opportunity to make their points known, resulting in some pleasantly surprising outcomes.
- Money is key but not the be all and end all. If you employ someone who is totally commission driven you have got the wrong person.
- Staff training and mentoring is a key imperative. This demonstrates your commitment to staff that they have careers and not just a job. Specific automotive graduate programmes are to be welcomed and encouraged.
- Consistency and follow up. We have all been to motivational speaker events where attendees are impressed by what they hear, only to have forgotten most of it days later. Follow up sessions are a must to ensure staff have derived value and have improved working habits as a result of these seminars.
- Staff are our internal customers. If they feel engaged and enthused about their job and employer, this will permeate through to the customer.
Due to increasing both new and used car sales in recent years, there has been little appetite for staff to move within our industry due to dealership success. If a slow down or correction in the market occurs , those motor retailers who have been pro active in staff retention will not have the double whammy to deal with of decreasing sales and departing staff.
Ian Allen is senior automotive partner at CNA International Ltd, Ian is a turnaround consultant in automotive retail and also heads up the executive search division of CNA Automotive which focuses on the search and selection of senior managers in motor retail and automotive. For further information please go to email@example.com or call Ian on 07922 466126.