The Manus Group and other industry experts cite a need for U.S. dealerships to overhaul automotive recruitment and training programs to encourage Generation Y employees to pursue and develop their careers in the automotive retail industry. Program improvements would include a transparent recruiting process, focusing on quality of life and stability, and innovative dealership sales training solutions spotlighting technology usage.
One of the retail automotive industry’s greatest challenges is attracting educated talent. Most career seeking university graduates overlook the automotive industry unless they are considering employment with a vendor company. Their distaste for the automotive retail industry is typically fuelled by negative thoughts about long work hours and confusing, commission-only based pay plans. Industry experts, like The Manus Group, say that an answer to dealership recruitmentchallenges lies in the need to shift employment efforts to match the practices of companies that are successful at attracting new graduates.
Dealership Consultant, Mark Rikess, in a recent article titled “I Don’t Understand Your Generation”, offers some ideas on how to attract today’s generation of employees. Rikess writes, “One of the biggest generational challenges facing dealers today is how they can more effectively recruit and market to Gen Y. Due to their sheer size, this group in the very near future will dictate dealership profit and loss as the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers ride off into the sunset.”
The educated Generation Y population is looking for a better balance of life and career. Addressing their wishes may have an improved effect on their overall sales performance. Rikess reports that, “Dealers must determine methods for creating a 40-hour work schedule with at least one weekend off each month. Flexibility can be achieved by staffing according to traffic flow. Our research shows that 70% of sales occur in 30% of the overall time the sales department is open. By staffing the showroom and prep center according to customer demand and employing lower cost staff, sales people can sell more cars in fewer hours.”
Rikess indicates that professional transparency is also critical to Generation Y. As a start, he suggests posting information regarding employment directly on dealership websites. Alex Schoeneberger, Product Marketing Manager for CDMdata, a Kelley Blue Book company, further suggests including details on job responsibilities and expectations, compensation and benefit plans, sales training programs, and most importantly, opportunities for career growth and development.
Income security is another appealing point for Generation Y. Rikess explains, “The traditional pay plan based on gross with random spiffs will not attract quality Gen Y sales people who have never sold cars. They would rather be paid $14 per hour to work in sales at a Best Buy or Apple Store than take on the financial risk of a straight commission pay plan. Gen Ys in particular do not have the thick skin required for aggressive selling, having typically grown up in a coddled environment where everyone is a winner (ala youth soccer). A pay plan that provides a good training salary, typically $2,500 or more for two months and then provides a combination of salary and compensation per unit sold (not gross) with bonuses works well.”
A final demand of Generation Y job seekers is the presence of quality training. “When Generations Collide,” a book written by Lancaster and Stillman, reports an ever decreasing retention rate due to lack of training opportunities between three generations. Three percent of employees of the Traditionalist generation (those who survived World Wars and The Great Depression) responded “Yes” when asked if they have ever left a job because of a lack of training opportunities. That percentage jumps considerably when compared to future generations, as fifteen percent Baby Boomers and thirty percent of Generation Xers answered “Yes.” In the book “Motivating the ‘What’s in it for me? Workforce,” author Cam Marston points out that Generation Y employee performance increases when their role and overall view of their career is clearly defined.
Mark Dubis, executive team member of Carfolks.com, contrasts corporate training programs and those typically provided in the automotive dealerships. “Employees of the Container Store, where they sell empty boxes, go through an average of nine interviews before they are hired and receive over 200 hours of training before they are allowed to be on their own speaking to customers in the store. They also get about 160 hours of training on an annual basis after one year. Compare that to the forty hours of training a new car salesperson gets before they can talk to a customer about that $35,000 vehicle. And I forgot to mention that a retail sales person in the Container Store gets a base salary of approx. $44,000 a year, plus benefits and a 401(k).” Mark Rikess adds, “Gen Ys want to be part of a team and your training program should acknowledge that want by teaching about other departments.”
Brian Pasch, CEO of PCG Digital Marketing, advises dealerships to expand their sales training programs to include the use of modern communication technology. Pasch cites, “One aspect to attract Gen Y into the automotive industry [is] for job roles that include digital marketing and social media and not just sales.” Sharon Hill, a senior analyst for AIM Group, recommends focusing on technology by explaining how these tools can be used to generate prospective business. “Talk about your Internet Sales Department, your Live Chat, your digital tools and vendors, etc. Say ‘This is an opportunity to put to good use not only your top-notch sales skills, but also the social networking and digital communication gadgets and processes you already know so much about.’”
U.S. Automotive Dealers who can make a paradigm shift in their employment focus have a tremendous opportunity to attract and build the careers of the Generation Y talent available in today’s employment pool. Bobby Compton, President and CEO of VIP Autos Live confirms, “I have faith that this generation is equally capable of being as great as the best of negotiators of the past, if not better when trained to do so. Technology is definitely on the Gen Y’s side.”
About The Manus Group:
The Manus Group (http://www.themanusgroup.com) made its mark across the nation as a premier provider of dealership sales performance training solutions and service advisor training programs as well as sales and management recruiting services. Backed by more than six decades of industry knowledge, The Manus Group offers proven sales training and recruiting services that produce top-performing employees and bring effective organizational change. The Manus Group focuses on one vital principle: create captivating, world-class experiences that inspire people to achieve benchmark levels of success.