Rachael Holderied was a hairstylist for 10 years before she started selling cars last year at Sheehy Nissan in Annapolis, Md. Although she was comfortable selling on commission, she concedes she knew nothing about vehicle sales.
A mentoring program that the dealership's parent company, Sheehy Auto Stores, has used for five years helped Holderied learn her job quickly. The program assigns new salespeople a mentor — an experienced salesperson — who walks them through each of their sales for four weeks.
“It made the job easier,” Holderied says.
The Sheehy dealership group in suburban Washington introduced the mentor system to help reduce turnover among sales employees. Mentors ease the adjustment of the new hires to their jobs, says company President Vince Sheehy.
During the monthlong training period, the novice salesperson earns $2,500. The mentor gets a regular commission on each transaction completed with the novice.
“Once they get off their training wheels and start selling cars on their own, the mentor gets $10 for each unit their trainee sells in their first full year,” Sheehy says.
That incentive, he says, helps motivate senior staff to continue to work with newer employees.
Holderied says her mentor, Dave Miller, was “awesome.”
“I would not have known how to show people the car, qualify somebody or close somebody” without Miller's help, she says. “I would just have to guess.”