Rodger Olson, COO of the Victory Auto Group, which has 30 dealers around the country, talked about how his company develops sales staff. Speaking at J.D. Power's International Automotive Roundtable, he pointed out that generally speaking, dealership staff is unhappy. "Seventy-seven percent of staff are open to a new job with 70% willing to work for 5% less money if that company had a better reputation."
He said Victory is focusing on things that are a bit unorthodox. For example, the company, whose headquarters had been in
Tennessee, moved it to Michigan, "because we had ties with the University of Michigan."
He said the company got a lot of benefits from the relationship. "We focused on hiring from the University of Michigan." He said the benefits of offering internships to students are manifold. "They work as hard as anyone in the store, they want to learn, and are malleable."
"One thing we do is make sure every employee is empowered to take care of customer. if it's too big they go to next manager up. Employees are very engaged at personal level when that happens. it's great to have a bunch of five stars but there's a lot more value two stars when they love customer experience."
He said Victory does training for employees at all levels. Also the company changed training culture starting with general manager meetings, which used to be focused on socializing around golf and back slapping. Now it's about training. "Some need very basic skills. Putting them together and share best practices naturally. Great opportunity for them to network. Learning tricks from each other. Customer service advisers. we are focusing them on product knowledge. "Don't talk price. You remain a sales person as customer advocate. if you can get them to fall in love with that car you won't have a problem."
He said there are also customer dealership programs such as in-store cafes, and even lunch to order. "What do we do to help enhance the customer experience." Last year the company launched a program called CarDoc, a retail based service program beyond what the OEM offers. "We offer them at such a discount it's literally our cost."