How to create an effective staffing strategy for your dealership

Good people are hard to find – and keep.

But two of three dealerships don’t give themselves much of a chance to do either.

That’s how many don’t have a staffing strategy, despite the possible payoff in hiring and retaining quality salespeople and other team members, according to a study* from Cox Automotive.

But that’s also what your dealership must implement to make the most of “one of the biggest sources of operational opportunity” in your business.

101017 IL How to create an effective staffing strategy for your dealership

“With a solid staffing strategy, you can hire better, accelerate productivity, foster better relationships and culture, and improve employee satisfaction, resulting in improved retention and performance,” said Cox Automotive’s “Dealership Staffing Study | Meeting the Challenges of a Changing Workforce.”

In the study, Cox identifies four critical components for a “holistic staffing strategy” – recruiting, training, communicating and recognition:


  • Market all opportunities at the dealership via all available recruiting channels to increase interest and demonstrate the variety of roles and careers available.
  • Treat dealership jobs as careers by providing a long-term path to advancement.
  • Be clear when experience or specific skills are required for a position.
  • Focus on strong social skills and compatibility with dealership values.
  • Communicate the benefits of pay plans and scheduling.
  • Actively and continuously recruit talent.
  • Include a variety of levels and personalities at your dealership in the recruiting process.


  • Invest in training employees, particularly during their first year, through mentoring programs, senior staff sharing best practices, online training and job shadowing.
  • Set clear goals for 30, 60 and 90 days and provide feedback on progress.
  • Offer cross-training that will enable employees to pursue positions elsewhere in the dealership.
  • Provide ongoing training to keep employees engaged.


  • Managers should regularly encourage career development with all of their direct reports by regularly reviewing, discussing and evaluating employee goals, responsibilities and progress.
  • Provide a positive work environment by encouraging honest, open and direct communication and fostering respect between all employees.
  • Reinforce dealership values by clearly communicating the goals of the organization, setting an example incorporating those values, and recognizing employees who embody them.


  • Use awards programs and incentives.
  • Praise accomplishments on an ongoing basis.
  • Show appreciation for hours/schedules employees work.
  • Instill pride in the dealership and acknowledge the value employees bring to customers, the business and the community.

Ultimately, of course, the goal is to sell more cars, which, in this case, includes having a strategy for recruiting and retaining quality personnel to improve your chances of success.

Don’t be one of those dealerships that fails to take advantage of this window of opportunity.

* This research was conducted for Cox by KS&R with consultation from Hireology and included 50 dealer owners, principals and GMs on their current staffing practices and challenges; 343 dealership employees on their experiences, and 834 people on their opinions about working at a dealership.

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