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To Get More from Dealership Employees, Start with a Champion

By Ryan Leschel | Jul 28, 2021

Last updated on May 19, 2023

Talent development for dealership employees is an investment that has many benefits — reduced turnover, improved performance, stronger morale, and enhanced recruiting, to name a few. 

But it’s easier said than done.

Investing in people is not something that begins and ends on a company retreat or during a one-day training session. It requires ongoing commitment, personalized coaching, and performance tracking. 

While GMs are certainly invested in their teams, they probably have too much on their plates to be full-time talent managers. The same goes for HR managers and administrators — with other items that need their attention, they often don’t have the time or resources to create in-depth development programs. 

So, what’s the right strategy for building your existing pool of talent? Put a talent champion in charge.

Download Now: Building vs. Buying Talent: Which delivers better ROI for auto  dealers? [Free eBook] →

Why do dealers need a talent champion?

Bringing on an expert helps ensure the success of your talent development program. A talent champion will have the experience needed to identify potential and the skills to maximize it. 

A talent champion will be responsible for:

  • Developing a talent strategy
  • Coordinating training and coaching
  • Promoting a culture of teamwork, empathy, and engagement 
  • Tracking and improving performance for each employee

Talent development is a full-time job, one that is equally important to the long term growth of a dealership as sales, F&I, or service. You’d never put a sales director in charge of also managing the service department, so why expect the same for talent development? 

With a dedicated resource for talent development, dealers will see more ROI from investments in their people. Improved performance drives engagement, and engagement drives performance. For GMs who stay up at night wondering how to motivate employees to sell more, it’s a natural fit.

What makes a good talent champion?

The right fit for your company culture will vary, but some indispensable qualities define a good talent champion.

  • Dedicated — Your champion is an independent, full-time resource, not a new responsibility for another manager
  • Senior-level — Like any other leader, they should have a seat at the table with the GM and others in leadership roles
  • Interdisciplinary  — They should work cross-functionally to drive performance improvement through all the department managers to their team members
  • Strategic — Your champion isn’t an admin… they’re looking at the big picture and thinking long-term with creative dealer engagement ideas at the ready

How to find a talent champion

It’s no surprise that finding an expert with this skill set isn’t always easy. At first, you might need help — a service provider like JM&A can help streamline the process by providing a third-party talent champion on a fractional basis. 

Our Dealer Talent Services will help you find the right expert to build your talent development program, no matter what stage your dealership is in. And JM&A’s talent champions have experience cultivating talent at other dealerships, so they can get your plan off the ground quickly.

Eventually, you’ll want to take on a full-time, in-house resource. This may be an internal hire — someone from HR who has shown promise and wants more responsibility — or an outside hire with employee engagement experience. Either way, when it comes time to recruit your own champion, you’ll have the infrastructure and a winning program in place to succeed. 

So where do you go from here?

Turnover is one of the biggest challenges that general managers at auto dealerships face. The first step toward reducing churn and seeing ROI from your training is employing tactics that focus on your team’s individual strengths. Having a talent champion with the chops and experience building winning teams will get you there faster.

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