Category Archives: Sales Management

Sales Management

Meeting The New Retail Head On

paradigm shift // an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way*

Part 2

In the last segment we determined that whether we like it or not, in person retail sales is going to look different after the economy opens back up for business. Consumers have been introduced and trained to use online ordering and delivery services for everything from groceries to fast food, this habit is not going to disappear just because retailers have opened the front doors.

I think that most companies realize the trends and may publicly say they are adjusting their businesses to allow customers to continue to use these services, however deep down they secretly are hoping that things just go back to the way they were pre-Covid.

Hope is not a plan. If a company is just hoping things will go back to normal, they are missing a huge opportunity.

Even if most consumers do go back to pre-Covid patterns why wouldn’t a company want to keep the “normal” part of their business and add to newly found consumer patterns to that? That is the key to meeting the New Retail market head on.

For a few there may be a fundamental change in the entire sales process while for most other organizations there may be two processes, perhaps even two teams that approach the sales process differently. That means while there are certain truths that businesses have felt to be self-evident in their operations that may prove to be incorrect moving forward or may need to be compartmentalized in the old normal process.

In the automotive business one of those old truisms and sales manager sayings that may still get quoted during a Saturday sales is “the feel of the wheel seals the deal” meaning that if a customer is unsure about buying a vehicle the test drive is important to convincing a customer that they should move ahead with the purchase. Is that always the case in the new normal?

Some customers absolutely need to drive a vehicle to ensure it fits their needs, but a surprising number of customers do not want or need a test drive. Online customers over the past 45 days have not been concerned about the test drive and this customer, perhaps conditioned to buying shoes on Zappos and clothes through Amazon Closet, simply want the opportunity to try it on and perhaps exchange it if the size is not quite right.

In this case in order to meet the new retail it may be that during the online car buying process car dealers should consider some sort of limited exchange policy for customers that use the online purchase process. That may be divergent from the old normal process and some dealers may choose to use such an exchange policy for online sales only.

This is what it means to Meet the New Retail Head On, it means that successful businesses that want to move forward from this crisis and improve their market position need to identify what needs to change to attract and retain new customers and then make those changes immediately. Companies that examine their process and do not let the ‘that’s the way we have always done it’ crowd stand in the way of changing the process will thrive.

It is time to get started as we reopen so how could dual processes be used in the same company? Follow me for the next installment to discuss how to position yourself for a successful transition to the new retail.

Turn 1 Star Reviews into 5 Star Customers

“The whole atmosphere was negative, I couldnt wait to get away from there. Stay away” -One Star

“The salesperson didnt even know where the car was I wanted to see, and the manager wouldnt get out of his chair to help, he just said to look at another car, so I left.” – One Star

“We bought a car and it had a flat tire the very next day and when we called the dealership no one would even talk to us, zero customer service.” – One Star

If you own or manage a business, you may have nightmares about online reviews like these. You may wish the whole review and rating “thing” would just go away. Trust me, it is not a “thing” that will be going away, but really that can be a good thing.

First of all, understand that reviews and ratings do matter. People look at them and they do influence buying decisions. Come on, admit it, you use them too. You jump on Amazon and I know you look at the product ratings before you buy, so why would your company’s customers be any different?

Secondly, and most importantly the review and rating system gives businesses a chance to hear from customers that in the past would just not come back, but now they let the business know why they do not plan on returning. These insights can be customer retention gold if handled correctly.

So, how is it possible to Turn 1 Star Reviews into 5 Star Customers?

The first step is to get the customer to engage with you either on the phone or in person. I usually immediately post a reply that simply says “I am sorry to hear we did not meet your expectations and would like to find out more, please call me at (I usually put my office phone since it is forwarded to my mobile phone, but you have to talk to them when they call so DO NOT put an office phone that you never answer as your contact number. If you are serious about turning around your reviews and ratings why not use your own personal mobile number? If you dont believe I put my cell number in responses just check out my responses online, I do it, and it works.)

I feel like around 30-40% of reviewers contact me just off of that first message, it may take 24 to 48 hours before they get back to me but they do respond but I try not to wait for them. Once I post my reply I try to immediately find a way to call the customer which sometimes is easy sometimes it is impossible, if the Google user name is ‘bigpoppa23’ and give no other details in the reivew, kinda hard to track down a number to call them so I have to wait on their call.

In short once I receive a negative review or rating, I try to get in touch with that customer like they owe me money, you cannot be passive and you have to get involved immediately if you are going to turn that negative review into a 5 Star Customer.

I felt like this would be a quick and easy post, but now that we are into it, I think this needs to be more in depth so I want to end here and pick up next time with more information on how the communication needs to proceed once you reach that negative reviewer. So I will pick this up again with more ideas on how to handle reviews like a true professional.


You Want me on that Wall

Absolutely not serious, and only BDC Alumni will appreciate, but I was watching A Few Good Men this weekend and thought Jack Nicolson’s speech could be used to describe the often felt tension between the Sales Department and the BDC.

You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth! Son we live in a world that has phones, and those phones have to be answered by people with skills. Who’s gonna do it you? You Sales Manager? You Salesperson? You Service Advisor? I have a greater responsibility that you can possibly fathom. You weep for leads and you curse the BDC. You have the luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that the BDC sells cars and my existence while grotesque, and incomprehensible, to you, sells cars. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that phone, you need me on that phone! We use words like appointment, followup, show rate. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something, you use them as a punchline. I have neither the time, nor the inclination to explain myself, to a man who rises and sleeps, under the blanket of the very appointments that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide them! I’d rather you just said ‘thank you’, and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a phone and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!


Turn It Around by the Numbers

My goal was to write a very specific guide on gathering information that would help track a dealership’s progress by the use of metrics. This is the sixth draft and it is garbage.

Metrics or KPI are great tools, but metrics are not going to turn anything around, if your dealership is dying, tracking the fading pulse is not going to help you.

I am going to publish this but understand: If your dealership is in decline, or if you are brought into a dealership to turn it around, the only thing that will save it is your culture. If you want the magic bullet, it is not tracking your hours per repair order, sorry, I wish it was that easy, the magic bullet is to realistically assess the culture in each of your departments and if the culture is broken, fix it. KPI and metrics are important but not more important, in fact not even close, than a no excuses no exceptions, leader led leader enforced culture revolution.


So what is the right culture? Along with culture what part does process and KPI play? It is a tease, I am working on that post now.

All of that being said, here is the pile of garbage I had been working on.

Having witnessed the death of various car dealerships from both the outside and inside, I understand. If you are present during the decline or are tasked with turning around a failing dealership it may seem like an impossible task – but there is a clear path to follow to stop the decline. It all starts with the hardest and simplest rule.

Rule #0
First and foremost, DO SOMETHING NOW.

This is especially difficult if you have been there during the good times and have watched the ship start sinking. Having been in that position a couple of times there is an inclination to blame external factors, and sometimes there are external factors, but if you are really honest usually it boils down to something you, your managers or your dealership could have done better.

The NOW part of the DO SOMETHING NOW statement is very important. It means today, right now, get started.

Think about this: Does one month of decline equal a downward trend? If you are only paying attention to your metrics once a month, one month is not a trend – of course until the second month ends. If you only look at your numbers once a month it takes at least a month for you to notice that things are changing and sometimes it is well into month 3 before a trend is recognized.

Which brings us to Rule #1.
Pay attention to your metrics (benchmarks, KPI, whatever you want to call them) daily.

You are deep in the weeds most days with customers, employees, recalls, manufacturer webinars, and the list goes on; and you don’t have time to look at numbers every day. Understand that everyone in the business has the same pressures and time in a day but if you really care about your dealership and your employees you will make your Metric Report the first thing you do in the morning or the last thing you do before you go home every day. This is the difference between being average and being a star.

That brings us to Rule #1A.

Define your metrics and how to quickly build a Metric Report.

Start by defining what is important to measure and track. Of course all dealerships have unique circumstances however there are certain benchmarks that always need to be tracked. The biggest yardstick that we are all measured by is profit and you know how to measure that. Obviously everything else becomes slightly less important if it is one record net profit month after another, and if that is the case I would not finish reading this I would be out spending that money. Still reading? Join the 98% of us that are not riding back to back to back to back record net profit months.

The first place to start building benchmarks is in the Service Department. The reason to start in Service is twofold, first, as a generalization, most General Managers and Owners came from the Sales Department and although most have gained an understanding of the fixed side of the building many do not understand the importance of both Service, Parts, and Body Shop (if equipped). Starting with these metrics in service puts the gears in motion to tracking and rebuilding:

RO/Advisor (Repair Order per Advisor) Pretty simple formula here although there are two parts to watch, the overall formula is the total count of RO’s divided by the total number of advisors. You also need to watch what the actual count is for each advisor.


Sales/Advisor (Sales per Advisor) Again pretty simple formula Gross Sales divided by total number of advisors. Again watch that each advisor is actually selling their share.

ELR (Effective Labor Rate) Total Sales Dollars divided by Total Flagged Hours.


HRS/CP RO (Hours per Customer Pay Repair Order) Total Customer Pay Hours divided by Customer Pay RO count.


Technician Productivity – Actual time worked by a technician versus the number of hours available in other words Hours Worked/Hours Available


WIP (Work in Process) There are variations to WIP but the first concern should be How many Open RO’s does each advisor have and why are they still open at the end of the day?


Sales/Parts Person
Parts/CP RO
Parts Turn
Parts Gross / Parts Profit on Wholesale, Internal, Retail

#Automotive #CulturalRevolution #Culture #KPI #ManagebyMetrics #dtcarguy #advertisingboss #carCultureRevolution

February Strategy

Welcome to February, what is your play this month? It is a short month for sure but typically if you work in any kind of production based job you have the same goals as any other month so how you handle the first few days really is the difference.

Auto dealerships and anyone in the automotive business should have already been working in January getting ready for tax time, but if not it is not too late. You may not have control of the inventory at your dealership so getting the right mix of cash cars and lower priced vehicles for financing is not something you can fix. How you respond to what inventory your dealership has is totally something you control however, so make sure that you do what you need to do to sell the inventory you have.

Many salespeople will spend the first half of February complaining about inventory and how management does not provide the right inventory and how the competition is so much better at having the right inventory. Many salespeople will waste time complaining instead of just making it work.

The first February tip is that the month is short, hit the ground today with gears engaged and every day in February remind yourself that this month is short and you have no time to be negative you only have time for selling this month.

It is All About the Content

Every post from social media experts seems to boil down to those six words so apparently Content is King. This lesson needs to be learned by salespeople as well as social marketers.

Marketing studies indicate that 71% of customers that purchased automobiles said they bought because they liked their salesperson (Kershner, 2008). I believe that statistic to a point (my debate teacher always used the phrase, there are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies, and statistics). I think the failure in that logic is the reason why the customer said they liked their salesperson.

Old guard sales trainers spent (and spend) hours and hours with new salespeople explaining how to find common ground with customers by asking questions about family, kids, work, etc… which is all good information and can be extremely useful during the sales process, but here comes the but. The fact that you found out what elementary school your customer attended is probably not the reason that they say they like you.

Customers like efficient, knowledgeable, competent salespeople, regardless of where they went to school or their background. We have now circled back to our point, Content is King. The question whether a customer liked their salesperson does not dive deep enough, the question could be turned around to say, did you tolerate your salesperson because they were knowledgeable and respected your time even though you were from different background?

All of those soft questions about background and family are great when worked in throughout the process but only after you have demonstrated to your customer that you are a professional salesperson that understands their needs and knows how your products will satisfy those needs.

My point, finally, is that salespeople need to concentrate more on having specific content in their presentation that will appeal to their customers. Spending time learning screen resolution or mounting options of televisions, horsepower or safety features of new cars, or features of whatever it is you sell is time well spent.

You want to make money, right? You want to consistently produce for your company and family, right? You will only be successful if you understand that content is king and spend the time to create specific and pertinent content for your customers.

Kershner, Jeff, 2008,

Are you Ready to Sell?

Salespeople are typically an easy group to distract is a statement I debated about writing at all. The point of the post started out being that small things that you, as an owner or manager, never questioned were working with processes in place may be the reason you aren’t as successful as you want to be. 

That seems like a great place to start a post, especially after discovering that in our organization people that should be able to process credit cards can’t always because they don’t always have access to the terminal. Crazy, right? Wait, this is the crazy part and why I say salespeople are easily distracted. The way I discovered our logistical issue was by walking in and discovering a salesperson with a string tied to a broom handle trying to open the door to reach the credit card terminal. He had a sale and was not going to let a locked door stop him.

So when I say salespeople are easily distracted I say it to emphasize the importance of removing every obstacle between your people and the sale otherwise your sales team may spend there day with broom handles and strings. 

We Make It Harder: Your Company’s New Motto

Everyone says it, regardless of the industry, “we make things harder then they have to be.” In the automotive industry we feel like the process should be simple: buy cars, get customers, sell cars. In the restaurant business we map out the process: buy food, prepare food, get customers, sell food. Every industry has basic goals that can be boiled down to simple statements. So why do we produce so many documents and flowcharts, why do we write so many mission statements and revised organizational plans? The answer is as simple as business should be: people are involved.

I visited a restaurant last weekend, the name of which includes the word wings, as in chicken wings. I was there for that reason, it was time to enjoy wings. Guess what the wing restaurant had run out of? Yep, no wings to be had. I am quite sure that when the founder of this restaurant started out his plan was simple: buy wings, cook wings, get customers, sell wings. Do you think that he ever thought that anyone that bought one of his franchises would need to be told not to run out of wings? No, and in reality the franchisee probably understood the concept but the store manager or assistant manager did not. That may not be accurate, they may have understood the concept but because they were dealing with the minute by minute problems that come up when managing anything they just forgot or miscalculated; hard to know why but the lesson is there for us all.

Never make the process harder than it has to be. When the business begins to add employees and grows there have to be processes created to ensure the necessary functions are done. A process is a clearly defined, measurable, repeatable and written guide on how to do something. Once a process is in place it has to become ingrained into the culture of the organization and every employee involved must know, understand and follow the process.

When an owner or manager of a company says in exasperation, “Why do we make this so hard?” the answer is usually because someone does not know or is not following the process (assuming there is a process). What happens next may determine the fate of the business because if the exasperated owner or manager simply makes the statement and does not take the necessary steps to teach and enforce the process that manager or owner has failed. Every failure creates complications and soon creates a culture that may never be fixed.

Business may not be quite as simple as buy wings, cook wings, get customers, sell wings but with simple processes strictly enforced it is possible to have a business that feels as simple as it should.

Subcontractor or Employee?

Employment of a commissioned salesperson is often viewed as a subcontractor relationship because many employers only pay if sales are made, however based on the laws that cover labor relations in most cases salespeople are employees.  There are many reasons that a company might prefer to use subcontractors instead of hiring full time employees.  There are many laws that define how workers are classified.  It is important for a company to properly define its sales staff for several reasons.

Salespeople are typically employees rather than sub-contractors.  Is it better for a company that needs sales representatives to hire employees or to contract with subcontractors?  What are the benefits of using subcontractors?  Why could using employees be a good idea for a company?

Examples of Subcontractor Salespeople

There are several examples of salespeople that are usually legitimately classified as subcontractors.  Supplemental health insurance is an industry that is known for having salespeople that are classified as independent contractors or independent subcontractors.  The best known of the providers of supplemental insurance is the American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, Ohio, popularly known as AFLAC.  AFLAC is a company that hires salespeople to represent it but only as independent agents.  The website is clear about how agents are hired, using the freedom of being an independent agent as a draw for working for AFLAC by asking, “Work or family? You don’t have to choose with Aflac. As an Aflac independent insurance agent, you’re the boss, so balancing work and play is easier than ever before since you make your own work schedule. As an independent insurance agent representing Aflac, you get the support of a Fortune 500 company and industry leader, along with the ability to own your own business and enjoy a flexible work schedule” (American Family Life Assurance Company, 2012).

Although the independent agent is a subcontractor there is still some control the company exercises over its agents.  AFLAC requires a new agent undergo training and be familiar with the products offered by the company.  The company requires agents to attend sales meetings and although the schedule can be flexible there are certain requirements about the number of calls an agent should make each week.

Examples of Employee Salespeople

Most salespeople are actually classified as employees.  Automotive dealerships usually classify their salespeople as employees.  The reason that automotive dealerships typically use employees as salespeople is because most dealerships have salespeople report to the same location on a set schedule every week.

A typical advertisement for a employee salesperson reads, “Previous auto sales experience is NOT REQUIRED for this position. Those with experience in customer service, account executive, financial services, mortgage and restaurant industries have proven to be very successful when switching careers to Auto Sales. Qualified applicants should have a professional appearance, a high school degree (or equivalent) and a valid driver’s license with an acceptable driving record. Drug screening and background checks will be performed. High-energy, positive, out-going individuals with strong verbal communication skills WILL succeed at Nissan Infiniti Mazda of Elk Grove” (Automotive Retail Sales Careers , 2013).

Benefits of Classifying Salespeople as Subcontractors

There are numerous benefits to classifying salespeople as subcontractors for a company.  The first advantage comes when a company needs salespeople on a temporary or seasonal basis since hiring subcontractors allows a company to avoid paying an employee when they are not needed.  Subcontractors only expect to be paid for the time they actually work instead of an employee that expects to be paid “for hours that they are not necessarily needed and this can increase your costs if not managed well (Newman, 2011, p. 48).

Subcontractors do not typically qualify for benefits so a second benefit to hiring subcontractor salespeople is the reduced cost of benefits.  Benefits such as health care, unemployment insurance, tuition assistance, and others can cost an employer tens of thousands of dollars per year for each employee that can be avoided by the use of subcontractors.

Benefits of Classifying Salespeople as Employees

There are several major benefits to hiring employees to make up a company’s sales staff.  One major benefit is that employees are totally under the control of the company which mean that the company can choose to do background checks and determine who is hired as well as when and where they work (Atkinson, 2012, p. 24).

A large benefit to hiring employees as salespeople is that it is often the most compliant legal solution.  In many cases because of the nature of the business involved in a company can only have employees as salespeople because of the strict definition of a subcontractor.

Laws Concerning Classification of Salespeople

The laws surrounding employee classification are diverse because each industry and job has unique requirements.  Most laws concerning classification of employees are centered around the tax implications of such classifications. A recent decision in the classification of subcontractor versus employee admits that “although there is no “bright line” test for worker classification, there are certain recurring themes. The most prevalent factor emphasized by various regulatory agencies and the courts is one’s “right to control” the detail of the individual’s work performance. (Franklin, Kota, & Milane, 2012, p. 64).

The Internal Revenue Service takes the classification of employees very seriously because the classification changes the way taxes are paid.  The position of the IRS is very clear but the line continues to be blurred by employers.  According to the rules the IRS takes the “position as outlined in IRS Publication 15A is that: Anyone who performs a service for you is your employee “if you can control what will be done and how it will be done.” The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if you, the person for whom special the services are performed, have the right to control direct only the result of the work and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result. Areas that government will determine the appropriate classification of employee or subcontractor is based upon are financial control, behavioral control, and the type of relationship of the parties. Remember, the government wants to know if you are calling them a subcontractor instead of an employee for the sole purpose of avoiding paying employee-related taxes” (Atkinson, 2012, p. 25).

Discussion Based on Article

A dealership that was involved in selling used cars classified its salespeople as independent contractors and then was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and eventually went to court regarding how their salespeople were classified.

The dealership lost the case in District Court and was instructed to classify salespeople as employees but on appeal The Court of Appeals overturned the decision and upheld the dealership’s right to classify salespeople as independent contractors.

The case was based on Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978.

Fiore, N. J. (1996). Independent dealership’s used car salesmen were independent contractors under “significant segment” industry practice. The Tax Adviser, 27(10), 650-650. Retrieved from


There are benefits to having employees as salespeople for a company and there are benefits to using subcontractors as well.  Employee salespeople are under the direct control of the company so that the schedule and method they use to sell the company’s product are approved and directed by the company.  Having employees allows a company to completely control the sales process.

Having subcontractors serve as the sales staff of a company can have great benefits for the company.  Since subcontractors are usually only paid when they produce the company is not required to pay for downtime as they would have to for employees.  Because subcontractors do not qualify for benefits from the company there is no impact on group health insurance or other benefits that usually cost the company thousands of dollars.

It is apparent that each type of salesperson, employee or subcontractor, has benefits that will appeal to companies in unique situations.  It is important that each company analyze the benefits of each type of salesperson and decide which is best for them.



American Family Life Assurance Company. (2012). Become an agent. Retrieved April 19, 2013, from AFLAC Web site:

Atkinson, W. (2012). Employees VS Subs. Qualified Remodeler , pp. 24-26.

Automotive Retail Sales Careers . (2013, Aprril). Automotive Retail Sales Careers. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from

Fiore, N. J. (1996). Independent dealership’s used car salesmen were independent contractors under “significant segment” industry practice. The Tax Adviser, 27(10), 650-650. Retrieved from

Franklin, R. T., Kota, M., & Milane, R. M. (2012, March). Independent contractor or employee. GP Solo , pp. 64-65.

Newman, P. (2011, June). Are You Hiring a Subcontractor or an Employee? Pavement , p. 48.


Business Survival is Based on Progressive Employee Training

All companies have developed some form of employee training.  In some companies training may consist of a formal regimen of prescribed classes that are handled by training specialists with clear objectives.  Training in many companies is informally conducted only when needed by managers, owners or tenured employees without any set curriculum, while in other companies training is completely ignored.  Companies that have training programs that are unorganized, unproductive and that fail to focus on employee growth can be successful; however, companies that sponsor progressive training programs that encourage individual as well as corporate growth have greater immunity to economic downturns.

There are numerous examples of ineffective and unproductive training programs in companies, industries and governments.  Faced with rising costs and unproductive training programs many companies simply reduce or eliminate training completely.  For example a 2010 article in the restaurant industry journal, Nation’s Restaurant News, explained that many restaurants have reduced training:

Our industry collectively trained less in the past year. Unit managers received an average of 12 hours of ongoing job-related training between September 2008 and August 2009, which was down 20 percent from 2007. QSR [quick service restaurant] hourly team members received an average of six hours of post-orientation training, which was down 30 percent. Multiunit managers received an average of 2.5 hours of job-specific training, down more than 40 percent from 2007 numbers (Sullivan, 2010).

Even companies that continue with training programs find it difficult to have meaningful and cost effective results.  The issue is rarely a company not understanding the importance of having a cohesive plan in place to train employees “to boost employee productivity and morale, strengthen customer relationships and hone a competitive edge. But a new survey finds that many training programs underperform for distinctly mundane reasons: time constraints, lack of employee availability and cost” (Citrix, 2010).

The failure of training programs is not limited to a single industry either, in all businesses there are numerous examples of failure.  The industry journal Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News reported “four reasons HVAC industry training often fails and how you may actually play a role: 1. looking at training as a cost, 2. not training for the right reasons, 3. viewing training as an event, not a process, and 4. lack of follow-up or reinforcement of training” (Vannoy, 2010).

In the automotive industry the lack of training for salespeople and sales managers has long been an acknowledged fact.  During the economic recession starting in 2008 the lack of training was a contributing factor in the collapse of hundreds of automotive dealerships across the country.  One dealership that failed during the downturn was a multi franchise dealership in New Mexico.  The dealership was founded in 2001 and followed the standard training program for new sales people: showing new employees their desk, where the break room was located and explaining the basic requirements that were expected.  Continuing education at the dealership consisted of the sales manager conducting the weekly sales meeting with very little planning and no input by anyone with a human resource, adult education, or corporate training background.

The lack of training was explained in part by a former sales manager at the franchise “We were told often to train our employees on the sales process.  The reality of the situation was however that any time spent training took the manager off the sales floor because there was no one else assigned to do the sessions.  We were so busy there was no time to have the training sessions, especially since there was no pressure to train, only perform” (Personal interview, 2010).  He continued to point out that what was really important in the company was not training but as he stated “at the end of the day all that mattered was numbers.”  The automotive industry’s explosive growth created such a torrid pace dealerships could prosper without implementing a formal training program.  When the sales pace slowed to normal levels there were few properly trained sales people and sales managers to deal with the economic change.

During the years that the economy was expanding and demand for vehicles was very high the lack of training was overshadowed by the high demand.  Once demand vanished and sales fell from two hundred units per month to fifty units per month and revenue fell to the point of bankruptcy the lack of training became evident.

The decline in sales seen during the close of 2008 was not limited to just a single dealership.  “U.S. auto sales overall dropped 18% in 2008 to 13.24 million vehicles, with Chrysler down 30%, General Motors Corp. down 23%, Ford Motor Co. down 21% and Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. sales down 15%, according to figures compiled by Autodata Corp” (Riedman, 2009).  Automotive dealerships of all kinds succumbed to the economic disaster of 2008 but those that had been focused on a consistent training program survived in much greater numbers.  One example of such a dealership was a Ford franchise in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Starting with the hiring process, which focused on aptitude testing for sales positions, they focused on having all sales people certified by Ford Motor Company as well as having weekly sales meetings conducted by a senior manager.  Although sales dropped dramatically during the economic recession the foundation of training has allowed the dealership to survive.

Progressive and productive training programs are only successful if the entire organization is committed to their success.  This means that management understands that training is not something to be looked at as an expense that can be eliminated as if it were some frivolous employee perk.  Frontline managers and employees must be just as committed to the success of company sponsored training programs.

The second feature that all successful training programs share is that the training is well planned and consistent.   By creating a curriculum that everyone is aware of and then by almost fanatically impressing the need to complete it, companies breed success.  An article in the magazine Executive Excellence listed ten traits of great organizations including training:

Fanatical training and development. The leader is a believer in the capacity of people to grow, change, and adapt. The high-performance culture invests in people. It is bullish on training. This is not the first activity cut in times of financial stress, but rather it is increased to help pull the enterprise out of a slump! Absolutely no one is immune. There is unrelenting practice with key skills and activities. New training technologies and techniques are aggressively sought, analyzed, and applied. (Cebrowski, 1995)

The third key to establishing a successful training program is choosing the proper trainer for the material.  The trainer involved in successful programs keeps the training material fresh by using current examples and material as well as making application to the specific audience of the training.  A great trainer needs to display the same qualities that any great teacher needs to have including “fluency with a range of techniques, including elaboration, evaluation, clarification, amplification, explication, imagination, and collaboration” (Fuss, 2009).  Keeping the class on schedule and topic is another responsibility of the trainer which is one reason that the most effective sessions are often run by trainers not from the same department or even the same company.  Outside companies that run training sessions for other companies are often very successful because they have no personal bonds with the participants.

The final ingredient in a successful training program is emphasizing the higher purpose of the training.  A training program that does not focus on personal growth of the participants misses the mark but a training that does not include the overall growth of the organization involved misses an opportunity.  Great companies do not miss the big picture possibility of training programs as shown by Addus Home Health Corporation.  In a 2010 article in Smart Business Chicago Addus president Mark Heaney was quoted on training programs “Regardless of the topic, there’s always an opportunity to emphasize the bigger picture.  ‘There are two important purposes for the Addus Learning Program,’ he [Heaney] says. ‘One is to develop personnel. But the second – and, frankly, maybe the more important thing – is to create a vehicle for communicating the culture and values of the organization’” (Bates).

As the evidence shows employee training in any form is much preferable to not having training in a company.  Some companies view training as an expense that can be eliminated from the budget when economic times are hard while other companies view training as the key to surviving such difficult times.  Successful training programs have a clear curriculum, dedicated participants and great trainers.  The examples clearly show that companies that are committed to progressive employee training are more likely to have the knowledge and skills to survive economic upheavals.


Bates, Brooke.  (2010, February). Living values. Smart Business Chicago, 7(4), 12.  Retrieved April 16, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Dateline. (Document ID: 1973022401).

Cebrowski, John W.  (1995, May). Ten traits of high performance. Executive Excellence, 12(5), 18.  Retrieved April 18, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 5366693).

Citrix Online; Corporate Training is Impeded by Scarce Time and High Travel Costs, Citrix Online Survey Finds. (2010, March). Technology & Business Journal,92.  Retrieved April 2, 2010, from Career and Technical Education. (Document ID: 1970548301).

Fuss, D.. (2009). Teaching Theory. Minnesota Review,(71/72), 180-188,325.  Retrieved April 18, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1678682511).

McKenna, Terry.  (2002, April). The loyalty quotient. NPN, National Petroleum News, 94(4), 16.  Retrieved April 2, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 116121532).

Riedman, P.. (2009, January). Auto fleet sales run aground. B to B, 94(1), 3,28.  Retrieved April 16, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1635817441).

Sullivan, J.. (2009, October). Tough economy has MUMs working harder, so train smarter. Nation’s Restaurant News, 43(37), 16,69.  Retrieved April 2, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1886587441).