Mooks in Training

So, they gave me another guy to train. Sigh. I've done this before, and it didn't go too well. One of my charges got popped for crushing the side of a pickup truck into the front of another pickup truck, and the other trainee went AWOL after 2 weeks. I don't have a really stellar track record as a trainer.

I'd like to point out that our dealership is different from most other dealerships that people have worked at. The work environment is overwhelmingly positive, at least for the most part. There generally isn't any grousing, no salesmen fighting over ups, no bickering between managers. Everyone is usually on the same page. When we get new salesmen that have come from other dealerships, to a man they remark about how well all of the guys get along and support each other. We've all been in the business for a while, so we all know exactly how the business works. The core group of guys have been there for years, so we all know each other's buttons to push for motivation, empathy, and a little harmless needling.

There is a little bit of an initiation process that all of the new hires go through. New hires are the butt of the most jokes, have to take a ridiculous golf cart driving exam, and are tethered to a more experienced salesman. It is this last part that is the most crucial.

When a new hire is in training, he will take a majority of the ups and bring them directly to the trainer, who will then go through each step of the process with the new hire observing. Slowly, the new hire will be allowed to have more and more leeway and input, until they are finally released and set upon the world. Most don't make it.

It's noteworthy that this is usually the only time that a car salesperson is working on a salary instead of a purely commission-based pay plan. The reason for this is the new salesperson has to split all of the deals that he or she has been working on with the trainer, who is taking precious time away from his own deals to work with the new hire. Remember how I said that my time is more important than everything except the money? Good thing trainers are given half of the new hire's commission, or you'd never get anyone to train anybody.

And with that, they've given me another mook to train in the ways of the car salesman. He, unlike the first two, actually has recent dealership experience. This is both a gift and a curse, because a salesperson who has already done the job at another dealership is already used to how that dealership does business. We aren't like most dealerships. Our process is so tied into the computer and the Internet that if our computers ever went down, we'd be completely useless and would probably be better off leaving.

But he (yes, it's another guy; 3 1/2 years of doing this, and I've never had a female salesperson colleague) must be taught our way of doing things. That's what we're working on now. It is an interesting situation, because I gave him so much rope when we first started that he nearly hung himself with it, which put my butt  in hot water with the General Sales Manager. Not good. I reined him in a bit, and now he's been productive. He's a good guy; he'll probably be around for a while.

I said all that to get to this: I'm not teaching my mooks to be sales vampires that suck the lifeblood of children in order to coerce their parents into buying a car. Far from it. What I teach the most, the most, is how to deal with the day to day rejection that you encounter when you work in this industry. I encourage my trainees to involve me in their deals, to not only prevent costly mistakes, but to help them deal with difficult customers and difficult situations. I'm there to help them vent, to help them deal with being told "no" 80% of the time. I help my guys get used to rejection, and to help them build up that alligator skin that is utterly necessary to survive in this game.

They say that the best way to make sure you know how to do something is to teach someone else how to do it. That's becoming increasingly true. I'm remembering the little things that I stopped doing because I was cutting to the chase a bit faster that I should have been. So who's really training whom, I wonder?

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