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Millennials: Recruiting, Training and Retaining them is Key to Dealerships’ Future

Everyone says Millennials are 'different,' but they still need jobs. Learn what to expect when hiring younger agents and helping dealers hire younger workers.
By: Rich Moore

Millennials: Recruiting, Training and Retaining them is Key to Dealerships’ Future

We tend to group people into generations to better understand their collective point of view. Millennials are no different. As the largest generation, out numbering Baby Boomers in size and, arguably, influence, understanding their point of view is increasingly important to cultivating successful dealership employees.

There are three distinct areas to consider to be successful at recruiting, training and retaining the millennial generation. The first area is to understand them. This is your key to developing a successful plan going forward. Second, how are you going to interact with millennials during the hiring process and into their employment? This is the execution of your plan. Third, how do you retain them? This will be your measure of success going forward with your newly hired millennials.

  1. Understand Them.

Who are millennials and why should you care? As a generation, they surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in early May of 2016[1]. Their buying power will far surpass any previous generation.

For a better understanding of millennials, let’s compare and contrast the current generations in the workplace.

Baby boomers are currently ages 51 to 69 and number around 74.9 million[2]. They tend to put family first, value job security and have concerns about retirement. Boomers are IT adopters and prefer to communicate face-to-face or on the phone.

Gen X, which numbers around 66.1 million members[3], is sometimes referred to as the Lost Generation or “latch key kids”. With ages between 35 and 50 they are more concerned with maintaining a good work/life balance than their parents. As digital immigrants, they prefer to communicate via text and email.

Now, on to millennials. Aged 18 to 34, they number around 75.3 million[4]. Millennials are the most educated generation and typically have higher levels of debt. Additionally, they are slower to make major purchases such as automobiles and homes. Millennials are considered digital natives, having grown up with their technology. Not surprisingly, they are tech-dependent. They just expect their tech to work and are generally not savvy as to how the tech actually works. Their communication preferences are online and mobile.

  1. Recruit and Hire Them.

Now that we have an understanding of millennials, we can look at some ways to recruit them and how these might differ from the traditional recruiting methods. One thing to be aware of when recruiting, is the millennial generation is quite unfamiliar with traditional recruiting and hiring practices. Additionally, you can expect them to enter the job market many years later than previous generations and often be more highly educated.

When you are recruiting, be prepared for candidates who are entrepreneurial in nature and looking for rewarding careers that will have a broader impact, not just for their employer but society in general. As part of your interviewing process, you need to make sure they understand their role in the company’s success as well as the role of the dealership in their customers’ lives.

To assist you in your recruiting efforts, consider hosting “learn about the car business” meetups. You should also reexamine the careers section of your website and make sure you are not just listing the job requirements but also providing career benefits and a look at how the role impacts the bigger picture; how your dealership affects people’s lives for the better. You may also want to develop some educational pieces that can be shared across multiple recruiting and social media platforms.

  1. Train and Retain Them.

Now that you’ve hired someone, it’s time to review your training processes. If you are still sitting new employees down in the break room and having them watch hour after hour of VCR tapes starring sales trainers from the ‘70’s & ‘80s, you will lose millennials. Your training needs to match the times. Train like the year in which you are hiring. You need to take a look at when the last time was you updated your training processes and materials. Granted, in the basics of sales or F&I hold true. However, your training materials and the way you deliver training need to be current. You may want to consider using more one-on-one training. This is something that goes a long way with the millennial employee. It gives them a sense of belonging to a greater organization than just selling cars.

Here are a few additional points to think about when training millennials:

  • Use coaching – not telling
  • Realize that they want to feel unique
  • Incorporate lots of confidence-building tools and techniques

Last but not least, make sure your training materials are available across multiple devices such as physical job aids, tablets, computers and smartphones.

Okay, you’ve recruited them, you’ve trained them and now you need to retain them. Here are some tips for making sure millennial employees stay with you for the long run.

As noted previously, you are going to need to show millennials how their role at the dealership benefits others, such as how they are helping the entire operation succeed and what role the dealership plays in the community. Remember, you want to provide examples of positive impacts to this generation because, to them, it’s not just about the paycheck. Research has shown that many millennials will take a job that impacts the greater good rather than its higher paying counterpart.

You are going to need millennials working in your dealership. You can expect new car purchases by baby boomers to decrease. GenX purchase growth is beginning to slow. Millennials’ new car purchases are beginning to rapidly increase to the point that by 2020, 40% of purchases in your dealership will be by millennials[5].

Who better to sell a car or F&I product to a millennial than another millennial, someone they know, like and trust. Just like it has been for generations.

[1] Pew Research Center

[2] Pew Research Center

[3] Pew Research Center

[4] Pew Research Center

[5] Forbes Research

This article was written by:

- has written 2 posts on Agent Entrepreneur.

Rich Moore first entered into the auto industry in 1985 and currently leads all sales training for Protective Asset Protection, a leader in providing F&I solutions. Contact Rich at rich.moore@protective.com or 1-800-950-6060 ext. 5711.

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The views expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Agent Entrepreneur or any employee thereof.

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