In a way, the need for succession planning mirrors gravity. Because, as certain as a ball thrown in the air is to fall, it is also inevitable that employees will one day leave your dealership. Today’s average college graduate will hold almost ten jobs between graduation and when they turn 65. Also, 61 percent of employed workers are open to or are looking for a new position.

Lastly, let’s not forget one of the biggest reasons positions become vacant. Retirement is always a looming threat to a fully-staffed team. Within the next ten years, each day, 12,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 (the average age of retirement). So, most research shows that at some point you will have to replace a member of your team. Also, you may even decide to make your exit at some point.

So, since employee vacancies are inevitable, what can you do to make sure your dealership doesn’t miss a beat when your star team members walk out the door?

It’s all about succession planning, and we have some tips to help you take the worry out of dealing with vacant positions. Read on for how to develop robust succession plans that keep your dealership afloat when team members depart.

Document Everything!

It is tempting just to let everyone keep all relevant information in their heads. However, when someone leaves, that treasure trove of knowledge goes with them. So, require everyone to document their processes. From the most straightforward procedure to the most advanced, have all employees create a guide that includes all they do throughout the day. This way, you can create more accurate job descriptions that encompass everything these individuals do, while also having comprehensive training materials to get replacements quickly plugged in.

Start a Mentorship Program and Identify Protégéssuccession

As of 2018, 10,000 individuals are turning 65 each day, so if you have older employees on your team, you need to begin grooming up-and-coming professionals to take their place. One of the best ways to do this is to start a mentorship program. Begin to look at younger staff members who are highly engaged and possess crucial qualities that would serve them well in leadership or a senior-level position. Then, see about connecting these workers with seasoned employees. These individuals can pass on what they know while helping to vet younger employees to see if they are the right fit for a more advanced position.

Have Stellar Retention Strategies

You cannot groom an up-and-coming employee for a position if that person decides to leave before the job becomes available. As a result, it is crucial to work on retaining employees whom you want to see take on vacant positions. You can do this in several ways:

  • Regularly survey employees to receive feedback on their work experience at your dealership so you can see where you can improve.
  • Offer flexible work policies when possible (remote work, flexible start-times, and job sharing).
  • Cultivate camaraderie and collaboration among your employees by encouraging them to work together to develop innovative ideas.
  • Help employees develop professional goals and walk through a strategy for advancement.

You want to develop plans that allow your star players to stay, and these strategies can help you retain those who benefit your company the most. 

Create an Effective Hiring Plan

At the same, while you want to create strategies that keep your star players, you also want to develop plans that allow you to attract individuals who can step in to take on an employment vacancy. So, look at the skills of each job—especially leadership positions—and develop job descriptions that get at the qualities you truly need. Also, identify reliable sources for finding viable candidates. For example, attending dealership-related conferences, revving up your recruitment presence on LinkedIn, and keeping an eye on recent graduates at local universities will help you to have a consistent funnel of candidates to choose from. 

Put Departure and Hiring Overlaps in Place

If possible, discuss departure and hiring overlaps with employees who may be leaving your dealership. It can be challenging to guess when an employee is moving on, but you can have proactive discussions with employees to discuss departure procedures. Express that it would be ideal if employees could give enough notice so that you can hire someone on before they leave their position. This tactic will allow the new hire to have the opportunity to ask questions and receive direct training and guidance from the veteran employee before they depart. 

Final Thoughts

It can be daunting to think about your major players—and even yourself—leaving their dealership position. However, it doesn’t have to turn your place of business upside down. With some planning and forethought, you can develop a succession plan that allows you to prepare for employee departures adequately, and put your dealership in the position to become even stronger.


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