Education is vital to dealership success, not only in keeping up with new technology, trends and product information, but also in how to effectively sell and interact with customers. 

Bringing in outside trainers can increase employee productivity. But too often, that ebbs when the trainer leaves. This begs the question: Who are the best people to educate the sales staff on a regular basis? It’s simple. Managers.

These are individuals who have succeeded in business. They know the processes, the people, the clientele, the vehicles, the challenges and the best ways to overcome obstacles. Who better to pass on knowledge and be involved in every sale?

If managers are not able to educate the salespeople, then perhaps they are not right for the job. Managers must know their business inside and out. Only then can they effectively train, educate and hold people accountable for reaching their goals.

Observation is the first step. Managers must walk the dealership, listen, watch and learn. They must get out from behind piles of paper work and get buried instead in “people work.” 

By observing, they will be able to provide crucial feedback and identify areas that need improvement. This should be ongoing, not once in awhile. I call it Y.C.N.D.B.S.A.Y.D. That stands for: You cannot do business sitting at your desk.

Second, managers should become maitre d’ of the dealership. That means asking customers, “How is everything and can I help make your experience better?” If there is a problem, then it should be taken care of immediately.

Think about what brings you back to your favorite restaurant. The maitre d’ greets you, shows you to your seat, interacts with you during your meal, thanks you and invites you back. In a good restaurant, if the customer is unhappy, the maitre d’ takes care of it. 

In such a role, dealership management can identify staff performance inconsistencies and focus on training to fix them.

Every action or inaction in a dealership can affect the bottom line. If salespeople are not continuously educated and trained by a manager who has a finger on the store’s pulse, untrained staffers lose opportunities to close sales. 

As this happens, the dealership loses salespeople who don’t see an opportunity to make money.

Finally, managers must lead, educate and train by example. Every interaction with clients can serve as a lesson for their salespeople. 

When managers leave their offices and start managing and interacting with clients, the entire atmosphere of the dealership changes.

When a manager interacts with a customer, even if it’s simply to welcome them, it creates a friendly perception for the dealership. It reassures clients, as they later know where a salesperson is going and to whom they are speaking if they step out to ask a question.

This behavior, once modeled for salespeople should then be emulated by them. No one in the dealership should ever walk by any client without saying hello. Bed Bath and Beyond, a retail chain with a motto of “Beyond Service,” has this behavior perfected.

As customers walk through a Bath and Beyond store, every employee says hello and asks if they can be of service. They offer to get shopping carts or help locate a specific item. Then they quietly go on about their business.

Without being pushy or intrusive, they create a perception that every employee in the store is there to help the customer. Dealerships should be no different.

Richard F. Libin is the author of “Who Stopped the Sale” and president of Automotive Profit Builders. He is at rlibin@apb.cc or 508-626-9200.