Every year we’re asked to create the same budget to then change it mid-month until about May and then stop paying attention to it altogether. About the only consistent items we accounted for were the rent factor, management fee if part of a group, the DMS, the CRM and maybe the utilities. You know, the things we can’t change anyway. Everything from cutting spend here, to adding spend there, adding a vendor, to then removing a vendor. This just causes chaos and frustration. Not just for you, the GM, but your entire store. Some of these mid-month changes could’ve been avoided, though, had we not forgone adding training as a budgeted line item. Cutting “something” to make room for “something else” oftentimes doesn’t make sense unless there’s overlap. And there’s rarely overlap. After 30 days the “new vendor” is unfairly judged because they don’t do something that they never said they did and because they’re month to month they’re fired and the old vendor is either brought back or yet another “meeting” is held to ascertain whether or not “we really need” this in the first place. It’s an endless and maddening cycle.
But I digress, back to training: In most cases, it’s usually an afterthought and something most GM’s struggle to find the value in – despite knowing about their dealer’s breakpoint intimately well – when adding it to the annual budget or adding the training mid-year. Given that our dealers have breakpoints, training remains a critical component to ensure your store’s success. As we find ourselves in Q4, and are planning for 2021, it’s best to add a training line to the budget versus adding it mid-year. Or, cutting something you find you “need” after it’s gone and then 30 days later cutting training and then the madness just continues.
The First Question to Ask Yourself is Why Don’t You Have Training in Your Annual Budget?
We know how valuable training is, but as mentioned above, training is often an afterthought. Or one of those “things” that happens when your managers or sales consultants aren’t performing. The infamous “bad month” and then we hire a trainer *it won’t happen overnight. With the idea that “if I hire this trainer, they’ll fix my problems.” Or, it’s my Sales Managers problem to fix training and hold their Sales Consultants accountable to train themselves (if you’ve used this statement, it should make you cringe a little). So, while you’re at least hiring a trainer, that doesn’t mean they’ll fix the root cause of the problem. The problem behind the problem. Whether that’s your Sales Managers not being trained, or that’s to hire the trainer, you’ve decided to cut expenses elsewhere. Whether that’s advertising or removing a vendor. To then have created yet another problem. That could be the top Sales Consultant, “not getting enough appointments” because you cut the ad spend. Who is now threatening to quit. (why’s your “top sales guy” need advertising anyway? – sorry, I digress) Not to mention, they’re not remotely interested in taking the time to face their own breakpoints.
What if instead of approaching the “training” topic as an afterthought, you were proactive in adding it in the budget. In doing so, it can change the way you approach training on the dealer level. With the mindset that training isn’t just an “expense,” but a means of increasing your team’s overall performance. At which point, your dealer will see an increase in profitability. That additional profit added to the bottom line more than covers the cost of training. It really is an investment, and a sound one.
Making Training A Priority Can Change Your Dealerships Mindset. Stop Running Your Dealership on Empty Knowing there is Underlying Damage Being Ignored. We Don’t Recommend that Our Customers Ignore Problems with their Cars? So Why Do We Choose to Actively Ignore Our Own Issues?
If we have the mindset that training is nothing more than an afterthought with the idea that it will fix a problem only after it appears on the radar, we’re missing the point. Instead, make training a priority for both the Sales Managers and the Sales Consultants. Making a commitment to train your dealership means that you’re invested in the success of your employees. Allowing your managers to do their jobs while your teams receive much-needed training in an ongoing manner. As mentioned above, if your dealership is continuously running on empty, we’re never able to fix the problem’s root cause. Sure, you might see some results here and there. But “results” here and there are not sustainable, and often short-lived. And let’s not forget, it’s never been and never will be about looking behind us at “what happened? We had a great month last month. Where are the appointments this month?” It’s always about what’s going on tomorrow.
So, while we think that the “tip of the week” in our weekly sales meetings have value – those “tips” aren’t going to fix the root cause of the issue. It’s like giving an untrained tennis player a better racquet expecting them to play better. But unfortunately, because they aren’t fully trained, the racquet (or in our case, the “tip”) is nothing but a “tip.” If you don’t know how to use the “tip” to your advantage, what value does that tip have? The other issue is that you have new sales consultants on the floor – who have the desire to do well – but cannot better their performance because they don’t know how to apply these “tips.” And if we’re really being honest – most of those “tips” being shared in the weekly meetings are “fragments” your Sales Managers have picked up in one of the training sessions they’ve been through. But have we ever asked how they’ve “applied” those tips? And if we do ask, what are their answers? And did they lead to any improvement? Chances are, it didn’t.
Bottom Line: if you make training a part of your budget, your culture and your expectations, you ARE investing in your Sales Managers and Sales Consultants. And instead of offering short-lived tips, cutting ad-spend, or removing vendors that produce results, you’re tackling the root cause of the issue instead of breaking things. So, when your Sales Managers do offer “tips” to their teams, they can apply them as relevant “add-ons” to their foundation. A foundation that will help them sell more cars, all of which means more profitability for the store.