Younger Workers Offer Dealers New Opportunities to Lower Turnover

Even in an industry with historically high rates of turnover, vehicle dealerships are finding that the revolving door is spinning faster than ever. It’s estimated that turnover among dealers has reached highs of 20 percent each six-month period, which leaves dealerships struggling to attract and retain skilled workers who are comfortable with the increasingly high-tech nature of dealership operations. With sales staff, annual turnover rates have reached as high as 80 percent.

Luckily, the Cox Automotive 2019 Dealership Staffing Study has found that younger workers may begin to help solve the problem of high turnover at American dealerships. At a time when approximately 61 million members of Generation Z are beginning to enter the U.S. workforce, dealerships are well positioned to tap these younger workers to begin building a more youthful workforce that’s more comfortable with technology.

“The good news is that dealerships have an opportunity to reverse [the turnover] trend,” said Isabelle Helms, VP of research and market intelligence at Cox Automotive. “A new generation is entering the workforce and bringing with them a renewed interest in working at a dealership.”

To attract younger workers, however, dealerships cannot carry on with hiring and employment policies that are causing the high turnover to begin with. Younger workers want to feel mentored and valued and be given opportunities to grow their skills and talents, not pressured into doing anything necessary to get customers to sign the dotted line.

“To attract and retain employees in this highly competitive job market, dealerships should understand which benefits and cultural attributes employees value most and take action to effect positive changes within their store,” said Helms.

These changes may mean putting newer technologies into place instead of expecting employees to struggle with legacy system, improving work-life balance for employees, boosting employee engagement, and meeting with employees regularly to set goals that stretch employees’ capabilities and opportunities to grow their skills.

“Dealers can’t afford to take their eyes off their employees’ needs,” said Bob Kostkan, senior director with Cox Automotive University. “With record high dealership turnover and a low unemployment rate of 3.7 percent as of June 2019, it’s critical that dealership leaders improve productivity while also enhancing employee engagement and retention. These are controllable issues that must be addressed to maximize customer experience and profitability.”