At Faulkner Subaru Harrisburg, a robust training program keeps employee morale high and turnover low.
Employees at the dealership, along with the rest of Faulkner Automotive Group's 27 stores, receive ongoing training, and those poised for promotion are invited to attend training academies at several points during their tenure with the company, said Doug Jones, president of the Pennsylvania store.
In 2008, Jones himself went through Faulkner Academy. He and all eight of his classmates are running Faulkner stores today. And a decade later, a general sales manager Jones hired as a green pea sales rep eight years ago is next in line to attend Faulkner Academy to become a general manager.
"That instance is 40 to 50 times over in our organization," Jones said. "We have many, many success stories."
A defined career path may be the key to successful recruitment and retention in auto retailing, but less than 10 percent of dealerships help employees develop a career plan, auto retail experts estimate. Still, some dealerships and dealership groups such as Faulkner have gone beyond traditional onboarding to help employees map their careers with specialized coaching, cross-training and online programs to keep them on track.
"The cost associated with [hiring], from onboarding to lost revenue, all of that has a huge impact on a dealership's profitability every year," said Andy Church, CEO of ASE Americas, a profitability and training company that works extensively in auto retail.
Turnover costs the industry more than $8 billion a year and the average dealership half a million dollars, Ted Kraybill, president of ESI Trends, a Largo, Fla., consulting firm that conducts the annual National Automobile Dealers Association Dealership Workforce Study, told Automotive News last year.
Many dealers miss out on hiring long-term, highly engaged employees because they are stuck in a dated approach.
Traditionally, according to Hireology CEO Adam Robinson, there hasn't been a deliberate career path between entry-level selling and dealership management. "Typically, that career path is sell cars until you get tapped to be a general sales manager or get pulled into a manager [role] somewhere else," Robinson said. "It exists, but it's not defined. And it's not sold upfront for the candidate to consider when they're being hired."