Ethics is Essential to Successful Automotive Industry Training. Better people equal better customer service. Better customer service equals more sales. There is no marketing strategy more powerful than people and processes. NONE.
In recent years, we have faced numerous unknown and uncontrollable factors. As decision-makers thought leaders, and industry professionals, our focus must be on the things we can control. Seeking help and advice from those around us should be applauded. Yet, there are many who would take advantage of this and claim to have the magic elixir to relieve all your concerns. They don’t.
The only elixir that exists is gained through the hard work of defining your unique offer and then consistently and relentlessly training your sales staff to embody that offer.
How do I know this?
If you were to turn off every piece of your marketing and go one, two, or even three months at zero marketing dollars would you still sell cars?
If you did the inverse and doubled your marketing spend but got rid of your people and processes. Would you last the month?
It is illogical to expect your employees to have a winning mentality if you do not provide them with the resources and training required to succeed.
To illustrate this point, imagine the Lakers attempting to win the championship without putting in hours of practice prior to every game. We cannot expect our salespeople and employees to perform well without training them day in and day out through role-playing, drills, scripting, scenario breakdown, mirroring, shadowing, and continuing education.
Creating a high-turn sales floor is not the same as creating a highly-trained sales floor. The difference is vital. In the Dale Carnegie Course of Communication, we are taught, “Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent.” If we practice subpar processes, we cannot expect great performance. Practicing mediocrity makes mediocrity permanent.
It is imperative to seek out and utilize the best training resources out there, and by finding trainers of the highest caliber, you are guaranteeing an exponential return on your investment.
So, how do we find the highest caliber trainer for our dealership? It’s not as simple as hiring a trainer based solely on their social media presence. Just as the Lakers would never hire a coach based on social media alone, we need to ensure the success of our employees by properly researching and vetting potential trainers.
This includes reviewing their credentials, experience, and reputation within the industry. Once we have invited them into our space, it is our obligation to establish clear expectations and guidelines for the trainer’s behavior and conduct while in our dealership. This ensures they are adhering to our standards and providing a safe and positive learning environment for our employees.
The automotive training market has grown significantly, leading to a rise in trainers claiming impressive results and charging high fees.
However, there have been reports of trainers displaying unprofessional and unethical behavior. This raises the question of how to ensure whether or not these people are the appropriate choice for our industry.
The Dealer Talk team was informed last year of a female dealership employee who was almost fired due to her trainer’s negative assessment of her job performance after she rejected his unwanted advances. Similarly, a few months ago, another dealership employee shared their experience of a former trainer who impeded their career progression, ultimately forcing them to leave their city to find work.
In addition, just two weeks ago, we received an email from a concerned dealership employee who uncovered that their trainer, Andy Elliott, had participated in the Big Red Dealership scandal. Prioritizing our teams and only inviting those with strong ethical foundations should be at the forefront of our minds. If we do not operate under this imperative, we run the risk of becoming the stereotype we so strongly seek to destroy.
In his video, “JURY CONVICTS DEALERSHIP OWNERS AND SENDS THEM TO FEDERAL PRISON!” The Homework Guy describes the automotive industry as:
“[a] culture [that] teaches, promotes, and encourages unethical behavior. No honest person could have ever survived 40 years of dealership culture without doing a lot of crooked stuff… Dealers are always walking with one foot in illegal activity.”
Sadly and shockingly, he continues his video by illustrating this culture through the behavior and past of Andy Elliott*.
“We know they teach it everywhere…Right now, dealers hire this former GM as a car sales trainer.”
The Homework Guy is referring to Andy Elliott’s participation in the fraudulent and criminal behavior that occurred in Norman, Oklahoma through the 2010s. This was a time period in which Andy Elliott was both working for and training the dealerships in which the criminal activity took place.
As the social media fame of Andy Elliott continues to expand, it highlights the danger of hiring trainers based solely on their online popularity. This is particularly concerning given that individuals and organizations such as Brian Benstock, Brad Lea, and Lithia Motors, among others, have still chosen to work with and hire him, despite his involvement in the Big Red Dealership scandal.
Andy Elliott’s reputation is not as illustrious and flashy as the YouTube videos and rousing speeches he is best known for, and the “unique” message he is bringing to our industry should be scrutinized and monitored at the very least.
Our industry requires us to leave it in a better state than we found it. We are not merely selling cars; we are building professionals and providing transportation.
This isn’t a “hotdog’s in the bleachers” sort of scenario. Our clientele relies on us for more than an entertaining afternoon. They trust us, depend on us, and make the second-largest financial decision of their lives with us. Our trainers must be the best of us all! We cannot tolerate individuals who prioritize their own selfish interests over the integrity of our industry. Yet, because of the nature of our industry, it is often the loudest that receive the most acclaim and the least attention.
Unvetted trainers who practice unethical techniques and behave in questionable manners have the potential to propagate and validate stereotypes and misconceptions that could impede the progress of our industry.
Yes, we must train, but we must do so with the integrity our industry so richly deserves. Keep in mind that trainers may not be subject to the same level of oversight and accountability as regular employees, which puts the latter at greater risk. Employees may feel unable to speak up about such incidents for fear of retaliation or jeopardizing their job security. Therefore, it is our responsibility to remain vigilant for them and provide a safe environment.
In the end, better people may equal better customer service, but as leaders, it’s not enough to hope for these qualities in our employees. We must actively choose, train, and develop our teams to deliver the kind of quality that will differentiate us from the competition. When we do so, we create a culture of excellence that can outlast any marketing campaign and shatter any stereotype. So let’s take on this responsibility with dedication and conviction. Let’s weed out those within our midst who lack the standards we are seeking. Let’s build teams that are comfortable in an environment of professionalism. Let’s exceed stereotypical expectations.
*We reached out to Andy Elliot for comment. He declined to comment beyond a denial of participation in any criminal activity.
For more information on the depth of Andy Elliot’s participation in the Big Red Dealership scandal, you can access that information here. If you would like help in seeking out compliant trainers, you can reach us at [email protected].