DONNA HARRIS

Be all that you can be: Join the car business

Donna Harris covers retail issues for Automotive News
I recently received a good-news/bad-news e-mail from Steve Emery, a consultant with the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Here's the good news: Emery says that during the economic downturn, workers laid off in other industries are applying for sales positions at car dealerships. So dealers can easily recruit new talent.

The bad news is that all too often, dealers are doing little to accommodate and retain these newcomers, he says.

Perhaps more dealers could add a training wage for those not used to a straight commission, for example. Or they could adopt a mentoring program in which experienced salespeople take novices under their wing.

More dealers also could attempt to identify new employees with management potential and counsel them on opportunities for advancement in the car business.

Traditionally, a car sales position is widely seen as a temporary job rather than a career. The downturn is providing dealers with the opportunity to change that view --but will they take advantage of it?

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