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Where to Start When Changing Your Dealership's Culture

Posted by Erin Borgerson on July 15, 2016

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Whether or not you recognize it, your dealership operates within a specific business culture. There are a number of contributing factors that accumulate to develop a company culture.

A Forbes article emphasized company vision, values, habits, language, beliefs and several other characteristics as the primary components that make it up. In other words, it’s not too much different than what composes a local, regional or national culture.

A Comparison in Migration Patterns

The main differentiator arises from the fact that employees typically come and go more frequently than people living in a specific country. Particularly in the U.S., the rate of migration from state to state is much lower than you’d expect.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 276 million people stayed in the same place between 2014 and 2015. Another 23 million moved but stayed in the same county, and an additional roughly 7 million moved to a different county but remained in the same state. In short, people don’t move from their local area very frequently—short of historical mass migrations.

Workplaces, on the other hand, can see massive migration. Data from the National Automobile Dealers Association found the average turnover rate for sales consultants was 72 percent in 2015.

Why Culture and Turnover Are So Intertwined

Because certain sectors or even just positions within a company can see significant turnover rates, company culture is a major consideration. An auto dealership’s culture has a major impact on employee churn, and it’s a complicated issue.

On one hand, you may have a core group of founders who helped establish and ingrain the current culture. On the other, you have to manage recruitment for new workers coming into roles at your dealership. These people may have talents and skills that will boost performance of your dealership, but if they don’t align with the culture, it’s probable they won’t last very long.

If this is a recurring situation and your dealership is constantly losing rock star talent, it likely signals a time for cultural change.

How to Begin the Cultural Shift

Change begins at the top. The dealership’s culture starts with the CEO and extends throughout the organization. The process of changing the culture is initiated internally when you recognize there are aspects of your culture that are doing harm to business performance.

With that said, the authentic core values that were the foundation of your dealership as a business probably aren’t the main issue. In most cases, it’s the habits and practices that have developed as time moves on that has caused your company to drift away from the central set of beliefs that propelled your dealership in the first place. In this case, it’s a matter of “righting the ship” to direct back toward your original core values.

From this point, your hiring practices have to reflect your alignment with your dealership’s culture. Pre-screening tests can help you get a better understanding of a candidate’s character traits and background. Then, you can more accurately judge whether he or she will be a strong cultural fit, which ultimately leads to better hires. 

Is your dealership hiring for the culture? Download the complimentary eBook below for tips on how to utilize your dealership's culture for success.

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Company Culture, Automotive Industry, automotive hiring, Retail Automotive, Dealership Hiring


Erin Borgerson

About the Author

Erin is the Director of Marketing, Crisis Controller and Culture Ambassador (the last two titles she gave to herself) who joined the Hireology team in April of 2012. As a certified Inbound Marketer, Erin manages Hireology's marketing department, the Hireology Blog, and media relations. She is also a co-leader of the Chicago Hubspot User Group which brings together Hubspot users from around the Chicagoland area. Erin set off to Chicago after graduating from Western Michigan University. In her spare time she can be found shaking it in a Zumba class, reading a bestseller, or drinking a craft beer on her Wrigleyville porch.