Pub. 20 2021-2022 Issue 4


What Does Your Employee Onboarding Experience Say About Your Dealership?


This story appears in the
New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Dealers Magazine
Pub. 20 2021-2022 Issue 4

Customer Experience is such a buzzword these days, but what about the Employee Experience? Research shows that both the Employee and Customer Experience are key to running a successful dealership.

Do you remember your first day starting at a dealership? I can remember like yesterday. We take our OEM courses to get certified, you get a mentor (15-20 year car person if you are lucky), and then you hit the ground running. Sound familiar?

The days of hiring people and letting them sink or swim are over. Today, your employee roadmap needs to be clear and written down. It would also benefit to create your own “Company Academy,” an online course designed just for your store so that it aligns with your company culture.

Let’s back up for a moment. The employee experience actually starts before they are even hired. The interview process must be tight and systematic. Here are a few best practices:

  • Have the candidate send a video prior to the first interview, especially if the video is required to send to customers.

  • Your company should be sending the customer a personalized video about what to expect, along with the next steps.

  • Have the candidate send a text and email on why they would be a great person to join the team. With text being the number one form of communication used by customers, text etiquette is huge.

  • What does their role look like three months, six months, and 12 months down the road? Be transparent about how to grow within the company. Clarity is king.

Goals and Vision

After a phenomenal interview process, you now have hired the right employee. What’s next? I strongly suggest documenting what the employee would like to accomplish while employed at your dealership. Would they want to stay in sales, move to service, or maybe get into leadership? You must provide a clear path on how they can accomplish their short-and long-term goals.

Master Your Virtual Showroom

Make sure ALL employees have a solid grasp on your Virtual Showroom (Dealership Website). You would be shocked to see how many people currently working at a dealership don’t even know how to locate the Used Car Specials on their own website. With digital retailing so key to the online shopper, your employees need to understand that experience.


Always Be Listening

We are all so used to hard-core sales training and the “Always Be Closing” mentality. I would argue the real mantra should be “Always Be Listening” because that is where the sale is made. It isn’t just listening to what the customer says, but it’s what they don’t say as well. Think about body language and tone of voice. I would recommend training skills in the area of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). If texting and emailing are part of their job requirement, then put them through an entry-level copywriting course to boost their confidence in how to interact with words. The more we invest in our people, the more significant ROI we should expect.

Product Certification and Customer Experience Selling

Product Certification and teaching the process of how to create a great experience for your customers should always be mandatory. Certification should come from your OEM, and your “Road to the Sale” should be tailored to your customers and company culture. Both Product Certification and Customer Experience Selling should be updated/monitored regularly to assist in removing friction for both employees and customers. Again, what do your customers and employees want that would create the best experience for both? Leverage technology to update your processes. Record a video of the updates you want to make, and put this in your own Learning Management System so it can be available to everyone.

Remove The Silos

To level up both employee and customer experience, you must remove any silos within your organization. In this day and age, it is imperative your new employee understands how everything is connected at your dealership. Having your new employee meet both the variable and fixed team will separate you from your competition. Take it to the next step and have your new sales rep spend time working with the Online Experience Team (BDC) and spend a day or two in Parts. The goal here is to replace “That’s not my department” with “Yes, I am familiar with what you’re talking about because we are all on the same team.”

Social Media Marketing and Branding

Take a look at the top downloaded apps. My guess is you’ll see a social media app near or at the top. Social media is here to stay, so how will your new employee market themselves along with the dealership? Don’t leave it up to your new employee to figure it out. Teaching your new hire how to leverage social media and build their brand is a must. It must be communicated what your company guidelines are on what is acceptable and what is not. Your new hire’s social media strategy needs to be planned and reviewed on a consistent basis. Remember, your new hire is part of your dealership’s brand; make sure everything is aligned.

Communication and Coaching

Communication and coaching are the most important elements of successful onboarding. Creating a successful onboarding strategy without consistent communication and development from your leaders will result in high turnover. At the end of the day, we all want to make sure we are on the right path, but this is impossible to know without frequent coaching and one-on-one meetings. Even if they are just a few moments on a consistent basis, these meetings are valuable to your employees. Take time to get feedback from your new hire on how the onboarding process has been and what they feel could be improved?

Come up with a solid employee onboarding system that will have your new hire raving about your store and telling everyone about it.

Durran Cage is the founder and owner of Cage Automotive, which provides dealerships with consulting, training and coaching for Internet Sales, CRM and Digital Marketing. He can be reached at 731-394-6907 or via email at Learn more about Cage Automotive at