Bad hires cost dealerships billions of dollars a year.
Few dealers are trained in how to hire, but as more face up to the implications of the problem, they are starting to look for help with the task and experiment with new approaches, say dealers and dealership employment experts.
The industry's track record for hiring and retention is "unacceptable," said Asbury Automotive Group Inc. CEO Craig Monaghan.
"It's one of our greatest challenges," Monaghan said. "We've just got to do a better job."
Struggling with hiring is the norm for dealership groups both small and large. Asbury is one of a multitude of retailers exploring ways to improve hiring procedures and rework schedules and pay plans. The aim: to improve retention and lower turnover.
Turnover costs stores money in several ways: wasted search and training expenses; inexperienced sales staff; lack of continuity with customers; and, ultimately, lost vehicle sales. Even small improvements can pay off for dealers in big ways, experts say.
"It's the money. It's the bottom line," said Ted Kraybill, president of ESI Trends, a Largo, Fla., consulting firm that conducts the annual National Automobile Dealers Association Dealership Workforce Study. "How big of a problem is it for the industry? It's half a million a year for the average dealership. It's billions of dollars for the industry.
"And it is not getting better."