Dealerships renew focus on basic sales training with inventory expected to grow

Dealerships renew focus on basic sales training with inventory expected to grow

At five-store Central Valley Automotive Group in Modesto, Calif., leaders are working to increase employee awareness of market pricing, including what neighboring dealerships are selling similar models for, said partner Brent Gardner.

Leaders also are revamping word tracks — the sales scripts followed by dealership employees — in the trade-in appraisal process to navigate situations in which customers might expect to receive a higher amount for their trade-in than current values would suggest, he said.

“Through COVID and the unexpected crazy business that we saw, I think there was a little laziness. And so it got too easy, especially on the new-car side, to sell cars,” Gardner said. “My concern was bad habits forming again, which we always have in this industry.”

To combat that, Gardner said, the group is focusing on its processes and also promoting why consumers should buy from Central Valley Automotive Group rather than another dealership. He said it’s “resetting new expectations for people” and reiterating the importance of not skipping steps.

Dealership leaders should examine the imbalances and gaps in their processes and skill sets, said Fleming Ford, founder and president of Culture Ignited, a coaching and consulting firm that works with dealerships. As part of teaching new skills, she said, managers should consider a focus on agility, empathy, asking questions and emotional intelligence.

Helping employees become emotionally capable to deal with what can be a high-pressure environment is an important step, Ford said.

“Emotionally, people are going to say, ‘I don’t like this job anymore. This isn’t for me,’ and we’re back to competing with people offering $20 per hour up and down in your market,” she said.

If dealership managers can emphasize training and how they’ll help their teams grow, Ford said, “people will see that there’s more than a paycheck to be offered.”

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