One Reason Automakers are Failing Dealers

An age-old question many colleagues, peers and dealer personnel have frustratingly asked. Automakers hire fresh college graduates or recruit to fill positions that interact with dealership management that have no experience in retail. Not all automakers do this, but a large majority do.

Working inside the automotive retail dealership environment is a career not for the faint hearted. True success comes from tenacity, drive and passion. Having great customer service skills, a firm business acumen and experience is what makes one successful. These are not taught in any school and are not obtained from less than a decade in the industry.

It’s like a soldier, until you have been battle tested or involved in an engagement, you cannot consultant with other soldiers on being battle ready and what it takes to succeed in such.

Speaking from personal experience, nothing irritated me more than some factory representative coming around that knew nothing about being in a dealership. They want to sell programs, accessories and recommend solutions to issues you are having. This is where things get heated. You are presenting a representative with an issue you are having and need assistance from the factory with. They are clueless. They make phone calls to attempt to reach out for help themselves and end up getting some diluted resolution to your issue.

Again, the issue now, is the person representing the manufacturer is clueless to even offering a triage to assist in resolving the issue. Furthermore, the lack of hands on knowledge of the operations of a dealership makes dealing with these representatives very difficult and frustrating.

I can honestly state that not all manufacturers hire this way, but a large majority do. The automotive retail industry is one that is staffed with employees who usually started as teenagers and have worked up through the ranks to obtain management positions. Literally blood, sweat and tears have been put in to climbing that ladder. When someone from the factory comes in with “assistance”, they better know what they are doing. There is no training that takes place of hands on experience. We learn from mistakes and time. No degree can trump that.

I ask automakers to start leaning more towards a very talented pool of individuals who are professionals that have been in the trenches. Still able to mold to your business model, as well as knowing what works and what doesn’t. That factory rep who walks in to push a large truck accessory order to a dealer in who sell more cars than trucks, just looks like a fool from the dealer down to the management. That’s just one example. I am pretty sure as a retail employee or veteran, you have your own experiences with factory reps that you laugh at. Please share as desired in the comments.

David Allen Wood


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