Five Key Stats and Takeaways from Cox Automotive’s 2019 Dealership Staffing Study


On July 23, 2019, Cox Automotive released a study that offers some significant insights into the current and future hiring landscape for dealers. Cox Automotive included responses from 1,200 individuals made up of dealership and non-dealership employees. The professions, as well as the age groups, vary (Generation X through Generation Z).

Respondents answered questions about engagement, causes for turnover, and overall interest in working in the industry.  So, what are a few of the major takeaways of this study, and what do they mean for you as you look for talent to join your dealership staff team. Here are five key stats from the study, along with some critical takeaways for your dealership. 

One-third of management employees do not feel excited or engaged in their jobs. 

Takeaway – This coincides with a Gallup study that shows overall U.S. employee engagement below 35 percent. So, this is not just an automotive industry problem. However, failing to address this issue could have a long-term negative impact on retaining exceptional talent. It is vital that you stay in tune with your employees. Use surveys and even two-way feedback sessions to get a feel for the engagement levels of your team. Once you know, you can create tailored strategies to keep them motivated.

Annualized turnover for sales consultants is at 80 percent 


Takeaway – Sales consultants are by far the profession experiencing the highest yearly turnover. This statistic is worthy of concern as salespeople are the highest drivers of buyer satisfaction within the dealership experience, according to this study. Continually having to train new employees, especially in this position, can increase costs, and take away the time needed to focus on core business activities. Centering in on this group and discussing with them what they need to be successful and satisfied in this position is critical. 

Better pay and work-life balance are the top two reasons dealership staff are leaving 

Takeaway – Fifty-seven percent of dealership staff are leaving due to seeking better pay, while 43 percent cite work-life balance as a significant reason for their departure. Regarding pay structures, 41 percent of job seekers would not consider a role that was paid on commission. Also, 32 percent of current sales consultants are considering leaving their job because of commission-based pay. Seeing how you can alter your pay structure to offer more reliability could go a long way.

Also, 62 percent of dealership employees are seeking a more flexible work schedule. Experimenting with remote work, flexible start hours, and offering more PTO can help to address this concern. While every dealership budget is unique, it is essential to see if you can offer a competitive salary, satisfactory benefits package, and flexible work arrangements. 

Younger Workers are showing an interest in dealership roles 

Takeaway – While older millennials and Generation X professionals are not exactly keen on working for dealerships, younger millennials and Generation Z are showing higher levels of interest. Thirty-six percent and 32 percent respectively showed interest in working at a dealership.

This is significant as 20 percent of the workforce will be made up of Generation Z workers by 2020. The earlier you can engage this group and attract them to your dealership, the better. Again, keep in mind, Generation Z is known for being entrepreneurial, even more comfortable with technology than millennials, and natural multi-taskers. So, be aware of this as you prepare campaigns to attract them. 

Technology and workplace diversity are also substantial concerns

Takeaway – To attract Generation Z, as well as younger millennials, your dealership should begin addressing smart technology use as well as workplace diversity. According to the study, 61 percent of dealership employees do not believe they are using the latest technology in the store. A quarter of employees are considering leaving due to this issue.

On the other hand, Generation Z is the most diverse group to date. As the study pointed out, as the customer base evolves, it is important that the staff reflect this. Tapping into the diverse talent of Generation Z is a great way to accomplish this. In short, Generation Z and younger millennials will likely be looking for organizations that efficiently use technology, and are forward-thinking when it comes to workplace diversity.

Final Thoughts 

The hiring picture for automotive dealerships is continually changing. As we continue to see low unemployment, competition for the best workers is fierce. This reason makes it all the more essential to create effective strategies to attract the best talent for your dealership. We hope that the stats and takeaways above will give you what you need to sharpen your acquisition and retention strategies for hiring talent. For more insights into the current staffing landscape, be sure to read the entire 2019 Dealership Staffing Study from Cox Automotive.