On this my second installment of my “ReThink” series I want to address something that is near and dear to my heart. Training. Over the past 4+ years here at iMagicLab I’ve been deeply immersed in training dealers on our tool, as well as the industry best practices, that I have picked up from my personal experience and being onsite at over 400 dealerships to date. The point of this article however, is to discuss the debate on whether we have to actually come to your dealership to effectively train you to use our product, or is our responsibility to you to make a product so easy to use that you can nearly “plug and play” to launch your store successfully?
There are two schools of thought here. Some believe absolutely, unequivocally that you must be onsite to train/launch any new system no matter what type of system it is, but ESPECIALLY a CRM at a car dealership. Others feel a properly built tool with solid informative videos and well thought out interactive web training sessions are equally effective and certainly far less expensive. Let’s break down each from my perspective and also the arguments I have heard on the topic over the years. I have a good feel for both and each of their levels of effectiveness based on my aforementioned travels as well as conducting thousands of webinar sessions, and producing several videos for dealer training.
Onsite Visit – Realities
We come out to your store, and some of your staff are seeing the system for the very first time. Some of your staff watched some videos and attended some web training online but a fair amount of your staff did not and some were not even aware that they were switching CRM systems. We hold a kickoff meeting with the GM/Owner, or which ever power player is available, to get a feel for his/her overall expectations for the visit and also to gauge the level of support and involvement we will get throughout the next 2-3 days of our visit.
Next we conduct classroom training sessions with anywhere from 3-15 people at a time based on the size of the dealership. Again a good amount of these participants have never seen a button in the system so its all new to them, and about an hour later we release them to begin their journey in their new CRM. Now in this class we are not deep diving into all the intricacies of how to use the tool, we are just touching on basic overall operation of the tool, i.e. adding customers, calling, emailing, texting customers, handling your workday etc. Very often, in my classes, I am also doing some level of sales training, on techniques, word tracks, best practices, that often have nothing to do with our CRM, just really to do with the car business as a whole.
Then after a round of classroom sessions we attempt to spend one on one time with as many sales reps and managers as we possibly can before leaving your dealership and allowing you to fend for yourselves for a while as you proceed to get your staff certified as “trained”. What is really learned in the visit? I would say about 40% of the information presented in the classroom session is retained. Not because the information is so deep and high level, but because anything new, thrown at anyone that fast is bound to cause some level of consternation. Fact is, it’s like drinking from a fire hose and we really expect dealers to be effective with the tool thereafter. I am considered a top level trainer and I can’t say that even my numbers, as far as onsite effectiveness, on the first time visit are much higher than the ones I’ve stated. Why because the approach is flawed. However, when I revisit a dealership after initial roll out, my effectiveness (at minimum) doubles, because the dealer has been exposed to the tool and has tons of feedback and questions to build upon. On the first time out, they just don’t know what they don’t know.
WebBased/Video Training – Realities
There is nothing we can do onsite that we cannot do online through video conferencing or web based training, aside from make the personal connection with people that we do onsite. The problems with web or video sessions is the ability to hold a users attention long enough to properly deliver the information needed for a dealership to be successful. In our space it has become so commonplace to have a trainer onsite that we often discount the idea and value of true effective online resources. Fact is online/video/web based training is more cost effective, easier to schedule and execute, and if properly managed, possibly more effective than onsite training. What?? Did I say that out loud? This is the lion’s share of how I made my mark in this business but I am saying it’s not as effective as web-based training?
Let’s not get too carried away. There will never be a total replacement of the need to have a trainer like myself or any other trainer come out to your stores to get your teams rev’d up or re-engaged or even hand held, but onsite trainings are no longer the only option. If properly prepared via video course training, and web based training, along with interactive video Q&A training, you can successfully launch a CRM product, if the CRM product is easy enough to use. Then if you decide as a dealership that you want to have a Jay Barr, or another dynamic trainer, come out to your store to connect the dots or just get your people excited, it will be a much better more effective use of your investment than it would be to have anyone out on day one. Because even the best of us will turn in numbers mentioned in the Onsite realities section.
I personally, will always love the onsite visit, you get to make bonds and connections and tie in the real world experiences to the CRM. Make non-believers, believers. I am not suggesting the onsite visit go away. I am merely suggesting that we “ReThink” the way we use our onsite visits so that they are most effective for your stores. Let us focus on training you how to use the tool to help you be successful through all means and you can go back to training your teams around how to sell cars.
I welcome your thoughts and/or comments.