By Sheryll Poe, NADA Contributor

With the new NADA Foundation Workforce Initiative providing the groundwork for finding and hiring the dealership employees of the future, it’s more important than ever that those employees—as well as the dealership leaders—get the education and training to ensure success. It’s also key that the education and training be as targeted and easily accessible as possible.

That’s why NADA education opportunities range from in-person training and consultation to webinars and other online learning opportunities. Here’s a look at how dealers and their staffs are translating the lessons learned from some of these NADA programs into real-world experience.

The Professional Series

This year, NADA Academy launched a training program exclusively for dealership managers. The NADA Professional Series provides training to new or high-potential department managers working in sales, office, parts and service.

“We want the next generation of automotive retailing professionals to secure their success at the dealership,” says Peter Fong, NADA senior vice president of dealership operations. “NADA is the only organization in the country that offers a full training program to give dealership managers the tools they need to run profitable departments, and very few, if any, in the industry offer training for office managers.”

With convenient classes offered at multiple locations across the country, the Professional Series is designed to fit the busy automotive retail lifestyle of dealership managers, like Aaron Dishman of the Tate Branch Auto Group, Artesia, N.M.

Dishman, who has been a used-car manager for three years and plans to become a general manager, completed his Professional Series training sessions in Dallas—a Sales Management class in August and a Leadership Foundations class in October. Dishman had high praise for his NADA instructor, Georgia Munson, and says he’s already applied some of the practices he learned in class, including creating more structured sales meetings, using SMART goals for performance planning, and employing better analysis and planning around financial statements.

“This training was focused on preparing for bigger things, and I felt like they were such a great foundation for going forward,” Dishman says. “The auto industry is such a scary place, and if we can make sure we have that foundation, even standard policies and practices in place from the beginning, it’s going to help a lot.”

NADA Academy classroom

State of the art. Academy instructor Michael Lucki instructing an ATD class at NADA’s new high-tech education facilities in Tysons, Va.

NADA 20 Group In-Dealership Consulting

While the NADA/ATD 20 Group programs equip dealers and managers with best practices and new ideas, the In-Dealership Consulting (IDC) program takes that peer-to-peer sharing a step further, providing one-on-one instruction and guidance to help improve dealership profitability and processes.

IDC is a results-proven service tailored to meet a dealer’s specific needs by analyzing dealership operations and engaging the management team in developing the solutions. IDC is so popular it often gets repeat bookings, as was the case with John Arscott, CEO of The Pete Store, Baltimore, Md. Arscott’s Peterbilt dealership group includes 500 employees at 17 locations from Savannah, Ga., to Boston.

Arscott, who has been an ATD 20 Group member for some 20 years, says he suggested NADA start a commercial truck in-dealership consulting program over 10 years ago. “I felt that I’d go back after a 20 Group and say, ‘We’ve got to look at this and that,’ and my people would tune me out.”

What was needed was an independent expert from outside the dealership, Arscott says. So he brought in NADA Dealership Management Consultant Dick Parrish. “When an independent person was showing department employees the gross profit and bottom-line numbers on the service department, he carried more authority. It really added more credibility to the numbers.”

Now, Arscott brings in Parrish annually for a three-day session, including a parts meeting, a general meeting and a service meeting. The visit is broken up between composite work analyzing performance at each branch location, and sharing best practices with more independent work and training sessions. “There’s a cross-pollination of knowledge that Dick’s the catalyst for pulling out and getting people talking,” Arscott says. “We focus specifically on new managers to bring them up so that they understand the business. It has been a strong program for us. I would credit it as one of my key management-development tools.”

Tailored Training

Finally, NADA offers the Tailored Training program to member dealerships, dealer groups, OEMs and allied industries. It’s based on the modules taught at NADA Academy and provides dealership employees with the foundation to improve their advanced dealership operations.

Tailored Training represents the ultimate in training flexibility, which is what makes it so attractive for Denny Wiseman, head of recruiting and development for the Sheehy Auto Group, Washington, D.C. Wiseman regularly incorporates two-day Tailored Training sessions led by an NADA Academy instructor with Sheehy’s two-year internal training program. Employees get the benefit of the NADA curriculum tailored to Sheehy’s culture and processes. For example, Sheehy financial statements are used in the financial management classes.

“It’s very convenient for our bigger program and has helped us broaden our internal training,” Wiseman says. “It’s ingrained within our culture at this point, and NADA does a great job in the fact that they’re flexible.”

For the Apple Automotive Group, York, Pa., NADA’s Tailored Training provided accelerated education and training when managers needed to be brought up to speed quickly. When Chief Operating Officer Kevin Marquet joined the company two years ago, he immediately noticed that there was “an intensive deficit in operational aptitude at the senior management level at the stores,” he says. With “a lot of the leadership, it was all about selling cars. They didn’t understand the negative impact that, for instance, contracts and transit have on cash flow on a daily basis, not paying cars off, title issues.”

Marquet, who was already familiar with NADA Academy, suggested doing something similar at Apple Automotive. NADA instructor Mike Fullam implemented a six-month program of two-day training sessions covering six NADA Academy modules.

“We thought that everything about it worked incredibly well for us,” says Marquet. “It certainly brought us along from where we were prior to the six months we brought NADA in. It took the leadership teams to another level from an operational standpoint of understanding the importance of cash management and cash flows. It brought everything together for them to understand why the little things are important to the success of any business, but certainly a car dealership.”

Posted by NADA

National Automobile Dealers Association