4 Essential Takeaways from Cox Automotive’s Latest Dealership Staffing Study


When it comes to any workforce, the most crucial element is human capital. The skills, knowledge, and experience of those you hire will either make or break your dealership. Unfortunately, when it comes to staffing, it can be challenging to prepare to handle and the ins and outs of a part of your company that can be unpredictable. The team at Cox Automotive may have the answers you are looking for. They surveyed approximately 1,200 dealership professionals for their 2019 Dealership Staffing Study.

Curious to know how others are faring, or what you can do to make the hiring process much less hectic in 2020? Take a look at our takeaways from the study below:

Invest in Stellar Onboarding Experiences and Strategic Retention Strategies

According to the study, employee turnover hit an all-time high of 46 percent. For salespeople, the number increased to a staggering 80 percent. Dealers can expect to lose half of their staff before the year is up. However, here are a few ways to handle this situation: study

  • Invest in robust onboarding and retention strategies – You want to give off a good first impression, so take the time to train your new employees, allow for meet-and-greets as well as socialization, and focus on retaining them for the long-haul. Good employee onboarding can increase retention by 82 percent, so put your all in developing a process that works.

  • Make internal promotion a priority – One of the main reasons employees leave a company is a lack of upward mobility. So, work on creating a hierarchy that allows your employees to move up and experience a salary increase as well.

  • Have documentation of all processes – It might take a minute for your hiring and retention strategies to show improvement. As a result, make a point to have each employee document their processes. This will make it easier to train someone else should they leave.

Flexibility is Key to Retaining Younger Workers 

Cox’s study showed that millennials and Gen Z are more interested in working for a dealership than their older counterparts. However, to fully engage them, flexibility has to be a priority. According to the study, 62 percent desire a flexible work schedule, while 60 percent and 61 percent wanted free weekends and free nights, respectively. Combat this by seeing how you can structure the work schedule to have workers possibly rotate weekends (if necessary), have flexible start hours, and work from home.

Dealer Owners Have to Make Time for Feedback Sessions and Training

Contrary to popular belief, employees want feedback. They want to know how they are doing and if they need to change their approach to better benefit the company. The study revealed that only 50 percent of dealership employees were receiving regular feedback.

Also, one in three dealers feel that providing training is a top challenge, but they are not investing in any training beyond what the OEM provides.

Having weekly check-ins, scheduling regular performance reviews, and being clear about expectations can help tremendously.

Regarding training, there are a lot of affordable options out there, depending on your department. For marketing and accounting departments, Lynda.com, General Assembly, and Udemy are excellent alternatives. If you can save money on those platforms, you can put more funds into technical training that may cost more money (ex. service team training).

Benefits and Pay Structure Matter

  • Thirty-two percent of current dealership employees are considering leaving their jobs due to a commission-based pay structure.
  • Sixty-one percent of employees said great health benefits were important.

Today’s worker (especially millennials and Gen Z members) are looking for stability. As the Cox Automotive report mentioned, many grew up during the recession and want to feel secure in where they work. So, to compete with other industries, dealers should consider offering a full benefits package that includes: health benefits, a vacation package, sick leave, as well as perks related to work flexibility.

Also, revamping the pay structure that allows employees (especially sales professionals) to earn a standard wage, with opportunities for bonuses— if they meet stretch goals— can help add security and even motivate these individuals.

Ultimately, professionals want stability. They want a secure income, a comprehensive benefits package, a clear path to upward mobility, and work-life balance. Their desires are not much different from a professional from any industry.

However, the current structure of most dealerships makes offering some of these perks challenging. It may be time to change the way business is done, and begin operating in a way that is more employee-centric (if you are experiencing some of the staffing issues mentioned in this study). Dealerships that master this will be able to compete in and outside of the automotive industry for the best talent.

Be sure to check out the entire study here.