Why car dealership leaders should train their replacements

Staffing and retaining personnel has long been the top concern for participants in NCM’s management courses. And the situation has been exacerbated the last couple of years because of COVID-19 and the so-called “Great Resignation” throughout the work force, according to Wegley.

As a result, there’s even more pressure to make good hiring choices and retain rising stars. But, Wegley and Rawls both say companies shouldn’t focus too much on specific skill sets during the recruitment process. Instead, they agree, attitudes and behaviors tend to be more indicative of future success.

“It’s better to look for character values, a strong work ethic and good personality … someone you connect with and trust” Wegley says. “Find someone who is right for your business and wants to take on managerial responsibilities.”

Rawls also works with managers to improve interview questions to help find candidates who better match a dealer’s culture and management style. With an escalating “war on talent,” she adds, companies need to think outside of traditional automotive sources.

“Soft skills are transferable across all industries,” she says.

Companies also should be more proactive in terms of employee retention, Rawls says. Suggestions range from maintaining a positive, collegial culture to improved training and financial incentives for top performers.

While there is always a chance of losing good employees, Wegley believes that personnel development is worth the risk.

“What’s more costly — if you invest in people and they leave or if you don’t and they decide to stay? You should develop everyone who wants to be developed to the point that they can replace their manager at any given time,” he says.

The proof is in the results, Rawls adds.

“There’s always ebbs and flows in business,” she says. “What happens if there’s another pandemic or recession? Succession planning puts you in a better position to weather downturns and take advantage of opportunities.

“After the last two years, our clients are in a position to grow and acquire businesses that didn’t have good plans in place.”

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