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Shop Talk: Outside Expert vs. Do It Yourself

Budgeting for an outside training program is a lot more than figuring out if you can pay the bill. Just like purchasing a lift for service or a remodel for the dealership, you have to be able to figure the long-term costs/savings/benefits to the entire transaction.

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When my kids were young, I got some great advice: “If you need your kids to do something, have your neighbor tell them.” And, you know what, it actually worked. Now they are grown and have gone on to their own successes, that hasn’t changed. If you’re honest about your sales team, that same rule applies. This is the biggest benefit to bringing in an outside expert. An outsider’s credibility is always higher. But, so is the cost.

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Budgeting for an outside training program is a lot more than figuring out if you can pay the bill. Just like purchasing a lift for service or a remodel for the dealership, you have to be able to figure the long-term costs/savings/benefits to the entire transaction. Doing this will not only justify the cost, but more importantly, keep you and your team on track to generate the desired return on investment.

Ways to Waste Money on Training

  • Hire the most expensive one. Just because the price is high, doesn’t always make it better. Neither should popularity, celebrity or any other non-productive bullet point. Hire the training company/trainer that solves your needs. Some trainers specialize in prospecting, others on closing deals. Some are experts at F&I, while others can organize a selling system. You may need one or more of these, but if your salespeople aren’t bringing in their own customers or following up 100% of the time; hiring the top closing trainer is a waste of money.
  • Train just the salespeople. Huge waste of money! Did I say HUGE? I have seen dealers send salespeople to top level, high quality training. I’ve been brought into dealerships myself to deliver programs and no matter what I say, they only give me the salespeople. In many cases, the sales team comes back excited and ready to take on the world with their newfound knowledge. Only the sales managers, who work the deals, have no idea what was taught and insist on doing things the way they “know” it should be done.
  • One call does it all. How long did it take to get your business where it is today? A day? A week? Then if you’re developing a long-term strategy for sales success, why would you have a trainer come in one time and dump an entire sales process on your team? In previous articles, I mention going to the gym once a year and working out really hard for a day to stay in shape for the year. As silly as that sounds, training is the same thing.

Biggest Bang for The Training Buck

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  • Plan for results. Bring in a trainer to solve an issue if that’s what’s holding you back. Listen to the expert when discussing possible outcomes to be certain they fit your future plans. Don’t hold back. Tell a prospective trainer your issues, concerns and even if certain members might present a challenge to the program. (For tips on how much you should budget for training based on your staff, email [email protected] with “Training Budget” in the subject line). Other trainers and I have had to remove disruptive people from training for the sake of the rest of the class.
  • Don’t stop when the trainer leaves. Once the training is initially complete, it will be up to your managers to continue to review and repeat as time goes on to keep the team sharp. This means you’ll continue benefiting from training long after the money has been spent. But the real benefit is, the next training issue can be worked on without having to review the previous one.

Budgeting for Training

  • Where can we get the money? The simplest answer is to put it in the budget at the beginning of the year. It should be part of the hiring budget. The industry says it costs a dealer an average of $35,000 every time he has to replace someone on the sales staff. That includes lost deals, lower gross, etc. due to the hiring and training of new people. Training is one of the top retention tools in any industry. When you invest in your people, they tend to stay.
  • Pay as you go. One of the new trends in training is to subscribe. Subscription training is almost like health insurance. Dealerships pay a monthly fee for anywhere from two to four live training programs per year. In between programs, the training company offers webinars, calls and e-training. The dealer budgets training annually and is actually receiving real training and coaching every month

The bottom line is today’s dealers have no reason NOT to train. The timing can be worked out. Budgeting can be handled in multiple ways and if focused on outcomes and measurables, they can assure themselves of getting the right training with the right expectations at the right budget for them. Find a budget that works for you and start investing in your greatest resource — your people! 

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John Fuhrman is the senior trainer for Performance Road Agency. He has trained over 15,000 sales, F&I and management professionals for retail operations and dealerships across the US. Performance Road is one of the only agencies with a 100% sales software reimbursement program which can eliminate all CRM, menu, desking costs. They are the first agency offering subscription training to all dealers. If you’d like to ask him a question, or discuss your dealership situation, email him at [email protected]

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