Lifelong learning is the new mantra for dealers
Dealer principals and auto executives have a strong desire to learn more about their industry.
Auto shows, such as the Canadian International AutoShow, are tremendous venues for consumers to learn about the latest trends and ideas in the automobile industry.
Just as consumers have insatiable appetites for all things automotive, dealer principals and auto executives have a strong desire to learn more about their industry.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the world’s largest international gathering of franchised new car dealers — the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Expo in New Orleans, which this year attracted over 20,000 dealers and their staff along with industry professionals.
This was the 100th-year anniversary of NADA, and it was an impressive event, featuring over 400 exhibitor booths, inspiring keynote speakers, workshops and networking opportunities.
At NADA, exhibitors promote an extraordinary range of products and services for dealerships, everything from data management systems and online marketing platforms to diagnostic equipment and aftermarket accessories.
Dealer principals and staff also take advantage of instructional workshops on fixed operations, human resources, digital marketing, and health and safety. I’ve attended some of these training workshops, and the quality of instruction and materials is first rate.
The knowledge and skills that dealers acquire at NADA allows them to operate their stores more competitively and efficiently. These acquired skills translate into better customer experiences and can lead to reduced costs for both dealers and customers.
I learned a few things while I was there and found the experience very enlightening.
Although NADA is a great source of ideas and inspiration for thousands of dealers and auto executives, the reality is that learning today, in business, governments and academic circles, has become a lifelong endeavour. The status quo is no longer an option.
Also Read: Auto shows are critically important
Many dealerships have adopted a mantra of lifelong learning, where employees in all departments are encouraged and rewarded for continuously upgrading their skills.
In his latest book, Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide To Thriving In the Age of Accelerations, Thomas Friedman discusses how workplaces are being reshaped by new social contracts. “One (social contract) is between bosses and employees,” he writes. “Bosses will have to learn to hire more people on the basis of what they can probably do, not just the pedigree they can ostentatiously produce, and to provide multiple avenues for lifelong learning within the company’s framework.”
Dealerships today are eager to find not only qualified and motivated men and women who have acquired essential ‘hard skills’ in schools, but candidates who also embrace the ‘lifelong learning’ mantra. In today’s hyper competitive work environment, computer and problem-solving abilities and social skills are equally as valued as hard skills.
For automotive technicians, lifelong learning involves attending regular workshops and webinars hosted by their respective manufacturers and learning about new diagnostic and repair processes. It means constantly upgrading their hard and soft skills in a rapidly changing work environment.
Automotive salespeople need to keep abreast of the complex array of new electronic, computerized and other features on the brands that they represent, and to learn about the competition. Car shoppers today are extremely savvy and well informed on vehicles and the car-buying process.
Automotive marketers, too, need to keep learning and adapting to remain relevant. New online platforms and systems are introduced every day, and marketers are constantly learning how to optimize them in order to engage with customers and prospects.
For individuals who have embraced the lifelong learning mantra, the retail automobile industry is looking for you and you should be looking to it, to fill available positions in sales, management, accounting, human resources, marketing, customer relations and auto tech.