WASHINGTON - One of the bigger but less publicized problems dealers face is attracting and retaining top-quality employees.
One possible remedy would be for manufacturers to 'outsource' the recruitment and training of new salespeople for dealers, said Steve Parkford, vice president and general manager of Sandy Corp., a consulting firm and subsidiary of ADP Dealer Services Inc.
He proposed that the carmakers contract with outside personnel firms to find and train new salespeople for dealers. The auto companies would offer future corporate jobs to those who proved successful at the dealerships.
Carmakers 'need to create the perception of a career path,' said Parkford after attending a session on employee recruitment and retention at last week's American International Automotive Congress, the convention of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.
Though not on the program himself, he participated in sessions and said in an interview that he wants his firm to be one of those that provide the service he described.
He claimed that millions of dollars are currently wasted in training 'bad wood,' and he predicted that manufacturer outsourcing of dealer personnel will become a big part of manufacturers' attempts to gain more control of the retail space.
The benefit to a dealership would be a stream of committed, professional employees who plan to have careers in the industry, he said.
ASSETS VS. LIABILITIES
Mark Neracher, vice president of Dealer Connection, an automotive personnel placement firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., ran the convention session on employee recruitment and retention.
He said the staff should be a dealer's biggest asset instead of its biggest liability, which 'unfortunately is what it has turned out to be.'
He said the industry must re-evaluate everything it has been doing in the personnel area. He said the outsourcing idea is worth examining.
But Lee Galles, an Albuquerque, N.M., dealer and author of a series of marketing books, was skeptical.
He said a successful salesperson is a different 'animal' with ego, drive and tenacity that make him or her 'not suited for the corporate ranks.'