To date, the last two years have been some of the most exciting years in my life. The world has undergone a significant transformation and shifted the perspective of not only me but billions of others across the globe. From an automotive industry perspective, these years have been some of the best years in our history. As we look at the significant changes we have experienced, it cannot be disregarded that we are at a pivotal moment and, if done correctly, we are poised to thrive.
The most significant impact the Covid-borne transformations have created in our industry is that decision-makers are now more than ever willing to look at the business from a different point of view. A point of view that promotes new technologies, thought processes, and professional development. It is an unquestionably exciting time. However, there are still a lot of behavioral changes that we need to take the time to address. The customer, for example, has been forever altered. Not only do they now expect a more substantial digital experience, but a stronger in-person experience as well. From touchless maintenance to sanitized cars, the post-pandemic customer is more likely to opt-in to concierge level services such as car pick up and drop off sanitized vehicles and remote pay options. Those expectations aren’t reserved solely for the service side either. As we have seen, alternative-based consumerism is becoming the norm—remote transactions and vehicle ordering are just two of the changes we are already beginning to see.
As buying cycles lengthen and used inventory becomes increasingly the focal point of any dealer. Something interesting is happening internally in our buildings—because of the significant growth curve of the pandemic, our hiring strategies also changed. Selling a vehicle became easy. We lost the need for salesmanship. We became order takers.
We often forget that this transformation hasn’t been occurring for a few weeks. It has been years. The skills requisite for a lucrative career in automotive have become the exception, not the norm. Our sales teams have gotten full-belly syndrome. They are unprepared for the work needed to create the thriving future we see on the horizon.
As the world begins to re-right itself, as things begin to shift again, we must face the daunting reality that our teams may, very well, not be ready.
I am reminded of the example of a lottery winner.
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, a STAGGERING 70% of lottery winners file for bankruptcy within a few years.*
In my journey of personal achievement and excellence, I tend to expend a significant amount of energy on the daily experiences that enhance and develop the skills and knowledge required to attain the outcomes I am aiming to achieve. Each day, as I grow and develop, I learn more skills, gain more knowledge, and become more capable. This, in my opinion, is the basic framework for success on any level. We rise, we work, we learn, and incrementally we grow.
Windfalls fail to achieve the most crucial aspect of this existential endeavor—the work necessary for the knowledge. Without the skillsets necessary to handle those situations, windfall recipients are more likely to be taken advantage of and more likely to make bad decisions without ever knowing any better.
Over the last two years, the automotive space snagged the jackpot, and our sales agents are the winners. This begs the question; are these winners ready for the customer of this new era? Have they had the opportunity to grow and advance in the ways needed for the unknown expectations ahead of us?
The question is, will we step up and train these teams in the skills necessary for true success, or will we watch them stand outside the building waiting for the next windfall to come their way?
Look, it’s not an easy answer. Training is arduous, tedious, and time-consuming, and we are an industry of immediacy—a dichotomous conundrum, to be sure. Yet, the reality remains that without proper training, we are walking our teams into a 70% scenario. They do not have the skills that got them the financial freedom they are currently enjoying. If we do not take proactive steps to teach them, it is my prediction that we are about to see an exodus from the industry, the likes of which we may never have experienced before.
So, again, I say, as we look at the significant changes we have experienced, it cannot be disregarded that we are at a pivotal moment and, if done correctly, we are poised to thrive.
Herb Anderson/Charity Ann