Last year sales staff turnover at the average auto dealership rose to 66 percent, up 4 percentage points from 2012.
At that rate, for every three showroom sales positions, the typical dealership must hire and train two new people a year. That's a costly and wasteful practice dealers wouldn't tolerate in any other department.
The dismal numbers come from the third annual Dealership Workforce Study commissioned by the National Automobile Dealers Association.
It's a chronic problem. The challenges facing sales consultants are familiar: long and irregular hours, uncertain and variable pay and relatively low income.
Some dealers accept high showroom turnover as an unavoidable cost of business. But others minimize the problem by active and unconventional recruiting, providing a career path for sales professionals and judiciously boosting compensation.
Salesroom stability is not simple or cheap, but those dealers often say it pays off in a happier workplace, reduced sales training costs, more customer satisfaction and, ultimately, greater customer retention.
With younger workers increasingly valuing stable paychecks over commissions and a tightening U.S. labor market, retaining dealership salespeople won't get easier anytime soon.