It’s that time of year again. Time to make hay while the sun is shining, so to speak. It’s tax time. And if the competition for those tax dollars hasn’t challenged BHPH dealers enough, the current economic conditions have not made the pursuit any easier.

For these reasons, it’s more important than ever to not only have the right people in the right positions, but to also ensure that effective initial and ongoing training procedures are in place. Just because the sun is shining doesn’t guarantee that hay will grow. It will take the right farmers with the right tools and the knowledge to use them to be able to grow and harvest it.

Tax-time farmers would, of course, be the sales staff, salespeople and sales managers. These are the ones responsible for getting the hay into the barn. Without a good, well-trained staff from top to bottom, all the traffic in the world would be wasted.

Two things are imperative to be prepared for the season, or any time of year for that matter—effective staffing levels and a staff that is properly trained. One without the other will lead to a season of missed opportunities and missed profits.

The old adage when it comes to vehicle sales staffing is one salesperson for every 11 to 13 sales projected or expected. This holds true for BHPH sales as well. So, if 50 sales per month are projected, four salespeople should be sufficient, depending on what the overall job description entails. In these challenging economic times, erring on the conservative side makes more financial sense. Better to have more than enough ups to go around than to have a bunch of lot dogs hanging out on the porch.

Sales management staffing should be based on the number of people to supervise as opposed to sales projections. The best mangers can only effectively manage 10 to 12 people. This should ensure the ability to not only run the store, but to train and develop the staff as well. Get too far outside this ratio, and something or someone will get left out or overlooked.

If preparing for the season means adding sales personnel, keep in mind that BHPH is not about selling cars, it’s about selling financing and/or the plan. Previous vehicle sales experience is not as important as a good personality and a positive attitude. Take an energetic, outgoing go-getter over a seasoned lot hound any day. It’s always easier to mold clay than to teach an old dog new tricks.

When it comes to sales management staffing, experience is definitely a prerequisite, especially if promotion from within is not an option. Hire or promote a “manager” not necessarily a “sales manager.” One of the most common mistakes made is promoting a sales superstar. The best salesperson rarely makes a good manager. The mistake will usually compound itself; not only will there be a reduction in sales, but the overall store effectiveness suffers because a good salesperson is in charge, not a good manager. Due to the intricacies of the business find the best manager available with used vehicle experience

If training is the missing equipment necessary to prepare for the season, it need not be because there is plenty of sales training available. There are more books, tapes, videos and seminars than there are days in a decade. Most of those resources provide good common sense ideologies. All preach a process, the ongoing training of that process and follow-up and accountability, which are all paramount to a successful sales department.

In choosing or developing a process, keep in mind that BHPH is about selling financing and/or the plan and not necessarily about selling cars. Some of the “steps” just aren’t applicable. Pick and choose the steps that fit the program and commit to them.

Sales training, initial and ongoing, should be one and the same—process-driven, year-round, daily at most, weekly at the least. If the process has seven steps, that would be seven weeks of training. Then start the training over again. Initial training should include a mentoring program. Who better to train a green pea than a proven winner? One who knows, works and believes in the process and has had success using it. This can also be an avenue to develop the mentors into future managers.

The best training and most effective processes are worthless without follow-up and the accountability that comes with it. Inspect what you expect. As with the process and the training program, these should be in writing and part of the employee manual. For any process and training program, there must also be clearly defined goals and expectations and the discipline to enforce them. Having just a warm body, instead of being understaffed, can be extremely costly, regardless of the time of year.

‘Tis the season when most BHPH dealers make up to 40 percent of their annual hay. The key is having the right farmers and making sure they have the right tools, equipment and knowledge to harvest it and get it in the barn.

Vol. 6, Issue 1