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As agency sales forces industry ‘talent drain’, how do car dealerships find the right staff?

Sponsored: Andrew Clark joins Simon Bowkett as they tackle the big challenges facing the automotive industry and talk about how dealerships can grow their own

Time 12:31 pm, October 5, 2023

How dealerships recruit is now changing as selling cars also shifts away from the dealership floor.

On the Selling in the Motor Trade podcast, Symco operations director Andrew Clark talked about the biggest change he has seen is the shift in philosophy at dealerships and the different type of staff they now want.

Symco operations director Andrew Clark joined owner Simon Bowkett as they discussed challenges car dealers are facing across the industry.

Clark said: ‘I think the biggest takeaway I’ve had from a number of talks with industry leaders, some franchise directors and bigger groups, is that when they’re recruiting, they’re changing the whole philosophy from that normal five and a half, six-day working week, and guys want to be in there in the morning to eight o’clock at night, and they’re just smashing through deals. 

‘Since Covid, that just seems to be a complete shift. Now people are saying I don’t work weekends, I don’t want to work five days a week. 

‘Dealerships are really having a big challenge around recruiting the right people with the right mentality.

‘Then on the back of that, they’re struggling with that kind of training and of it because they don’t know where these guys are coming in from.’

Both Bowkett and Clark talked about how agency sales have resulted in a ‘talent drain’ in the industry, with hungry salespeople no longer driven to sell.

You can listen to the podcast in full by clicking here now.

‘I think agency is going to have a huge impact, in my opinion,’ said Clark, ‘and we’ve been in and out of dealerships over the last few months, and we’ve taught people around the industry. 

‘I’ve got a number of friends who’ve been looking at cars recently and they said the journey into the Mercedes Benz world is not what they expected. 

‘They’re very nice, very polite, but just, they wouldn’t even ask for the business. 

‘They just advised them about the car, there’s no kind of desire to try and close them or get them down a process. 

Equally, he added from his own purchasing experience: ‘I had a very brief look at the Ford Mustang Mach-E in a dealership, and that’s following the agency model, but the sales executive wasn’t interested.’

Bowkett added that James Voortman, Australian Automotive Dealer Association CEO had said of Honda when it first introduced an agency model: ‘Looking back at Honda in Australia about three years ago now, he said there was definitely a talent drain because the hungry salesperson, the guy that you could rely on for 30 cars this month, because George is gonna get me those 30 cars. 

‘He said they just left those franchises, and we’re going to other franchises. 

‘But again, if you are an investor, listen to this. You’re going down the agency route, do you need to pay salespeople like they used to pay salespeople? Or can they actually employ people that were at Curry’s or people working in John Lewis?’

Clark went on to say, he believes the industry needs driven salespeople because they create desire in the customers too. 

He said: ‘My personal belief is I still think we need that hungry salesperson’s assurance. 

‘I think we need that person to drive that desire and build the emotion of the customer and build the rapport and get to the point where the customer will say yes to that brand.

‘Your hungry salesperson will push and push and push the customers’ emotions along that line as well.’To hear the interview in full you can listen to the Selling in the Motor Trade podcast here now.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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