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5 Tips for Boosting Sales Employee Retention

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Recent years have seen improvements in the U.S. employment picture. In fact, the nation’s unemployment rate has dropped steadily since it hit double digits in the fall of 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With brighter job prospects, some dealership employees are looking to see whether the grass might be greener somewhere else. So this might be an ideal time to focus on efforts to boost employee retention at your dealership. Retaining sales staff is especially critical because salesperson turnover tends to be high in the industry – 72% annually, according to a 2015 workforce study by the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Here are five strategies that can help you hold onto your salespeople:

1. Create a healthy work environment. Your employees should feel comfortable being themselves in your dealership. And all employees should be treated equally and given the same opportunities to succeed.

It’s OK to foster some friendly competition among your salespeople. Just make sure it doesn’t cross the line into unhealthy competition, like salespeople nabbing each other’s customers or trying to undermine each other’s sales. In these scenarios, jealousy and bitterness could arise between salespeople that can taint the work environment for everyone.

2. Strive for a healthy work-life balance. Many employees today (especially young Millennials) consider work-life balance to be the most important aspect of their job – even more so than compensation. So try to create a work schedule that considers your staff members’ lives outside of work as much as possible.

Ask employees their preferred shifts and accommodate their wishes whenever you can. For example, workers with families might prefer a more traditional Monday–Friday, 9-to-5 schedule, while single employees might be more open to working evenings and weekend days.

3. Take a fresh look at your sales compensation plan. Re-examine your comp plan periodically to see whether it has kept pace with the marketplace and your competition. Also make sure that sales goals and incentives are realistic, given current market conditions.

You can obtain competitive compensation data from a dealership “20 Group” or your state or local dealer association. If your competitors are offering more than you are, you may need to bump up your compensation to keep salespeople from jumping ship.

4. Provide training and development opportunities. Determine which skills are the most critical to your salespeople’s success and then create a training program designed to teach them these skills. Training should start on the first day of work for new hires and continue until they’re comfortable with your dealership’s sales process.

But don’t stop there. In addition, provide ongoing training via seminars, workshops and informal “lunch ‘n learns” to help your salespeople keep their selling skills sharp.

5. Offer regular feedback. It’s human nature for employees to want to know how they’re doing, and your salespeople are no different. Many dealerships conduct annual performance reviews, but you should offer informal feedback on your salespeople’s performance more frequently than this if you’re not already doing so.

Regular feedback is especially important for new salespeople who might be a little unsure of themselves. Plan to sit down with new sales personnel after their first 30 and 60 days on the job to share your observations about what they’re doing well and offer coaching to help them improve in areas where they’re weak.


Dealer Insights - March/April 2016

Dawn Rosoff CPA manages audit assignments and consults on accounting, management and tax-related issues. Member AICPA and PA Institute of CPAs.

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