A dealership’s success can be likened to railroad tracks, with two critical paths that determine its prosperity – technical expertise and interpersonal skills. Of these, the performance of the dealership’s employees plays a pivotal role in ensuring both technical competence and financial success.
Recognizing the significance of training, the Dealer Institute conducted a needs assessment within NAEDA’s 2022 workforce study to understand the essential training requirements for these tracks. Here, we provide a summary of key findings, focusing on data analyzed from AGCO, Case IH, John Deere, Kubota, and New Holland dealerships. These five were determined by their frequency of participation.
Immediate Training Needs
Leadership development for improving people skills and understanding financials emerged as the top two immediate training needs for dealerships. Following closely were leadership development for technical skills and implementing operational best practices.
According to the surveyed dealerships, three preferred independent firms for people skills training, while one chose the OEM and two opted for internal trainers. Interestingly, despite their preferences, all five dealerships commonly utilized internal trainers for various training requirements.
Technical Skills Training
The survey explored training needs in seven technical skills areas: departmental management, financials, managing production metrics, parts department, service department, wholegoods, and inter-departmental relations. While there was considerable variability among dealerships by brand, departmental management was identified as a critical training area by the dealerships of one dealer brand, while another set of dealerships emphasized understanding financials and parts department training. The remaining three dealership brands highlighted the importance of fostering better inter-departmental working relationships.
Secondarily, training for the parts department, e.g., parts fill rate, absorption rate, and up-selling, showed consistent demand across dealership brands.
Dealerships generally preferred using internal trainers to understand financial information, although one dealership expressed a preference for an independent consulting firm.
The survey investigated fourteen essential people skills, ranging from integrating vision and mission within the dealership’s culture to the people skills required to manage the dealership’s departments. Notably, there was considerable variability among the dealerships by brand. For example, supervisor training to create high-performing work teams was favored by dealerships from three dealership brands, while managing inter-departmental working relationships and retaining employees were identified as key priorities by dealerships representing two OEMs. Note these skills revolve around enhancing the working relationship between supervisors and their direct reports.
Next Steps for the Dealer Institute
The Dealer Institute thanks all the participating dealerships for their invaluable input.
As this article is being published, the DI is actively changing course content per the suggestions offered from this survey. These updates will be offered later in 2023 and early 2024. Additionally, the Dealer Institute is considering offering specific virtual content training to meet dealerships’ needs. For instance, a virtual training program focused on creating high-performance work teams is currently in development with the expectation the class will be fewer than four hours.
Stay tuned to forthcoming changes tailored to meet dealerships’ requirements. If you have any suggestions for course topics, feel free to reach out to Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article Written by Larry Cole, PhD and Michael Piercy, VP of Dealer Development