3 Things Your Dealership Needs to do to Retain Top Talent

By: Felicia Savage

In the automotive industry, managerial positions are often filled by internal salesmen. Many newly promoted managers are unprepared for the challenges that come with managing employees. All they’ve ever known was sales.

Finding top-notch sales talent is no easy task; which is why it’s incredibly important for managers to keep their top talent as happy as possible or else they’re jump ship.

Luckily, keeping sales talent at your dealership doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are 3 ways you can retain your best salesmen:


Work Life Balance

When your guys are interacting with potential customers, they’re basically putting on a little “song and dance” which, at the end of the day, can be physically and mentally draining.


In our industry, hours have a lot to do with “liking the job.” So, why not split the shifts and make teams. Team A works 9-5 and alternates with Team B who works 12-8. Have a competition every week based around what your manufacture is pushing you to move. You know as well as I do that the “Rock stars” will work bell to bell anyway. Splitting up the shifts will help prevent burnout.


Have Fun and Reward your Salesmen

Having fun is absolutely crucial for employee retention. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to fun, do you? Now, there are gonna be days when being on the sales floor can be downright stressful. Your guys are getting pressure from all directions: You, your team and your customers.


For many people, buying a new car is a fun, exciting experience. Why not make it fun for your employees too? First thing’s first, though…. what makes your employees “tick.” What motivates em’?


Try this: During your one-on-one’s, ask each person individually how they’d like their bonus. Would they like an extra cash spiff or a three day weekend spiff for meeting their goals? I’ve seen lots of good salesmen blown out of the dealership simply because his wife wanted to see him more than an hour a day.


I knew this one guy who worked at a Toyota Dealership in Northern Indiana for 20+ years. He was offered $100K in cash to go work for a competitor. The pay was tempting, but he decided to stick around because: a) his schedule was flexible b) his pay plan kept him happy and c) he was consistently recognized for his talents. Conclusion? Make sure your employees don’t feel physically ill when coming into work.


Train Employees to Develop Their Brand

You already know this, but it bears repeating: dealerships are nothing like retail shops. Purchasing a car is a big decision; and customers need the guidance of your salesmen.


Customers won’t necessarily judge the dealership off one individual, but they’ll go out of their way to see their salesman . They’re not gonna buy from Down the Road motors because their salesmen is at ABC Motors. It’s like going to a concert hall that you don’t have much of an opinion about to see Metallica perform.


It’s a known fact in the automotive industry that a salesmen will make or break a potential sale. Providing training not only increases a salesmen’s confidence, but it instills a high level of trust in you because everything you taught him actually worked. If your salesmen trust you, they’re gonna stick around.


One key thing you should be teaching your salesmen is how to brand themselves. Develop scripts, create practice dialogues and then encourage adding their own creative twist so their presentations are unique and they’re instantly recognizable.


Listen, your guys are willing to put in the time and effort. I’ve seen it time and time again. They just wanna make money and feel appreciated in some capacity. If you take even one piece of advice from me today, you’re already moving your business in the right direction.


How have you managed to retain salesmen at your dealership?