In every dealership or business, mine included, leaders analyze and wonder how an investment in ongoing education for employees impacts our bottom line. We debate internally with our top staff on if what we will spend up front can be tracked to a true ROI in expected improvement to our performance.

Before we dive in further, let me share a few statistics.

U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics found companies with fewer than 100 employees delivered approximately 12 minutes of manager training every six months.

Most dealerships fall into this category in terms of employee size. If you truly looked at the training your leaders deliver, beyond the initial on-boarding, what would your statistic be?

A 24×7 Learning Survey shared this: only 12% of employees know how to apply the skills from any training they receive.

My feeling is many dealerships have the wrong trainers in place. Just because someone is a top performer does not make them a great trainer. They may not have the correct skills to communicate not only what needs to be learned but the process to help with implementation from the classroom to front lines.

7 out of 10 employees say job related training directly influences their decision to stay with a company.

The cost of replacing an employee usually runs three time what it costs to keep an employee. From recruiting costs, new training to lower productivity, the decision to have more ongoing training to retain your employees seems a no brainer.

I share these statistics because upfront costs can be the initial hesitation for leaders to engage with training. What is not being discussed are the long term negative effects may not show themselves so quickly.

What if the hesitation on spending any upfront cost blurs the leaders vision so they don’t even discuss the potential improvement to results? They choose not to invest because their impression is performance will remain static which is acceptable and safe. Fear of the unknown creeps in so staying the current course wins out.

In this scenario, the problem I see with this leader’s philosophy is they are gambling their employee’s performance remains static. I believe two factors will impact performance in a negative way over time leaders may have not considered.

education

The “We Are Doing OK” Factor

New education or training is not injected into a business because the feeling amongst leaders is current production levels are ok, begins to take hold. Lack of education or training will allow current skills to begin to lose their sharpness. Even the greatest athletes train continuously to keep skills sharp. Status Quo never stays the same.

Without new training, leaders just keep repeating the same training over and over to check the box that training is being delivered. The problem here is human nature allows our minds to convince ourselves we know this information and can skip this training occasionally or even for longer periods of time. Our confidence in our current skillset allows us to feel we can produce better results when called upon. This seldom is the case.

As an acting teacher once told me, “How you practice every day is how you will perform. If your diction is sloppy offstage, you cannot expect it to be perfect onstage, just because you wish it to be.”

My feeling is over time, confidence changes into comfortability. Comfortability leads to lack of preparedness and performance drops. At first, not drastically, and this slight dip can be explained away as “having a bad day” or week. We can blame outside forces, not ourselves for this underperformance.

Over time, comfort makes everyone rusty and it is not easy to bounce back when are skills are no longer sharp. Soon performance is static, but at a lower performance level and leadership is convinced it will bounce back soon, yet it never does.

The “My Competitor is not Doing This” Factor

The second aspect leaders often miss is the “Competition is not Doing This” Factor. I hear this from some dealers when they return from a 20 Group meeting or a conference. They have compared themselves with their peers and have decided if others are not investing, then why should they.

I ask these dealers if they are truly aware of what their competition is doing in terms of consistent training and education? If their competition is investing in skills training or education one would expect their competition’s performance improves. This now leads to a situation where the first dealer’s standard of performance is no longer acceptable in the market place.

You may not recognize the shift, or excuses arise for your competition’s slight increase which supports your decision for inactivity. One must understand inaction can be just as costly as investing up front for education.

Imagine you have come to accept your company’s performance is now below your competition in the market place.  Panic can begin to set in. Leadership rushes to implement training or education which now may be costlier.

Higher costs to get trainers in on short notice, of taking internal leaders away from producing themselves, trying to jam in the education to your staff and to enflame the situation further, there now arises an overall feeling of stress due to new levels of increased performance demands.

Long term change does not work well under duress. Getting employees from rusty/comfortable performance back to high performance takes time. It is always easier to improve the performance of someone who is already practicing and learning in a consistent manner.

With so many cost-effective opportunities for training, either live or online, there is no excuse for not investing in your team consistently.

A good way to think about this type of an investment is to look at the cost versus the budget this training will impact. For example, if the cost of an education program for your sales or marketing team was less than 2% of your marketing budget, not including salaries, would you think spending 2% to increase the performance of the 98% was worth it?

I think so. And on the flip side, saving 2% by not investing will impact the 98% in a negative fashion. Thinking this way, would you think this strategy was acceptable for long term success? I do not.

Training or technology can improve the performance of your team if used correctly and should be viewed as an investment, not a cost. Don’t allow the fear of upfront cost cause your team to fall prey to these two silent factors. Success is a daily habit that comes with continual education and training of your team.

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