First, let’s recap the first 6 steps to a successful training needs analysis in your store:

  1. Compile a list of all positions in the store.
  2. Compile job duties for each position.
  3. Compile job performance expectations for each position.
  4. Compile list of software and equipment each position uses.
  5. Identify/gather performance scorecards for each employee for the appropriate position.
  6. Compile a complete list of all internal training options.

Step 7 – Identify needs.

Need = What you want – what you have. Some call it “The Gap.”

At this point, if you have been thorough, you have all your items from Steps 1-5 available so you can start working through the analysis side of things. By looking at “what you want” = job duties and expectation – what you have (from performance markers/scorecards) = what you need (gaps).

As you begin to work through this difficult step, you will likely begin to see some patterns forming. It may be that your GM likes to hire salespeople with no auto experience, therefore what you want are highly trained product specialists – what you have is a salesperson who can’t tell a customer if a vehicle has seat warmers = product training need.

Or that you have veteran sales team members who are skipping the service walk because they think it doesn’t serve a purpose. Each time you find a need/gap in job description, job expectations and job performance markers/scorecard, you note it. Don’t worry about how to solve it yet, just stay focused on getting as many of them on paper was possible.

Step 8 – Determine if the Need/Gap is a skill or will issue to take action.

Now you need take your finding from Step 6 and determine if it is a skill (knowledge) or a will (motivation) issue. Training can fix a skill or knowledge issue, but it won’t fix a will or motivation issue. Additionally, an employee who is unwilling to adapt or learn isn’t going to be fixed with training and you will have to decide if they will be moving forward with your dealership.

If the need you have identified is a skill issue, is it a product knowledge or process need?

A)     Then we decide if it is something that can be trained internally.

If it’s a product knowledge issue, was that product on our list in Step 4? If so, why didn’t they get proper training at onboarding? Lack of proper onboarding tools/product training can cause serious problems in meeting position expectations. What internal training options are available to fill this need? It might include vendor training – both free and paid. Many CRM’s have video training available. Maybe you have manufacturer specific training.

If it’s a process issue, what are your internal training options? Go back to your list of internal training options. Did you have a monthly Joe Verde Online Training subscription? Maybe you have an internal training program for the sales department for the sales process. Maybe your F&I agent can provide compliance or selling training. Dig deep on this, we often have many resources we aren’t using properly at our fingertips.

If you can train internally, you will be creating a training plan for that employee for that specific need. Training plans don’t have to be complicated. They need to answer all the basic questions:

  • Who will be trained?
  • What will be trained?
  • Where will they be trained?
  • When? Set a time for it to take place or set a deadline for training to completed.
  • Why is the training needed? Identify the need it is designed to fill.
  • How will the effectiveness of it be measured?

The answers should be agreed upon by both the employer and the employee. If you have no training available internally to fill this need now, is there a resource you can bring on board? Or is this something you need to develop internally in the near future? If you have several people who need it, you should consider development. If you have no internal options available now, or in the near future including development then you need to decide if it can be trained externally.

b) Can be trained externally.

This might be sending an employee to an F&I compliance workshop, or a special finance workshop. Or a GM boot-camp. When considering external training you need to factor in cost as well as the training material itself. You need to make sure the training material closely aligns with the need you are trying to bridge. Usually, if you choose externally, there will be much more taught than your identified need. That’s fine as long as the employee knows what you are expecting them to learn from it, which should be specified in the training plan.

c) Training hasn’t worked, employee issue.

The last decision is usually the hardest of all, and it usually only comes after something has been attempted already through training internally or externally. That is the decision that the need can’t be met because of the employee. Either they are too resistant to training or they are in the wrong position on the court.

Ideally, you should rarely have to make this decision as your hiring process should have ferreted out the wrong position, unteachable issues before they got to this point.

So, what happens after you conduct your Training Needs Analysis?

If the skills have improved, did they improve enough? And if not, more training one on one with a supervisor to reinforce it might be needed or other action taken. If it did, we can remove that need from our training list.

You need to have an end in mind when you begin creating training plans. What I mean by that is, how many types of training will be provided to an employee before we determine that training will is not the issue? My suggestion is three, and here’s why: If an employee watches a 3rd party vendor video and they are a very read/write driven learner, they may not learn enough from the video. If I provide them training materials in writing after the video and I still don’t see the improvement I need, I will move to a hands-on exercise training format with a supervisor to help reinforce the training and help them retain the material. I also must provide adequate time for implementation.

All three types of training shouldn’t come in the same day and I expect performance to be changed overnight. However, if I’ve allowed adequate time and, if after all three, the employee is still not performing the task up to my expectation, I must determine if they need to be moved or removed from the team.

We just covered the very front-end piece of creating a full training program in your dealership. I encourage you to take these 8 Steps into your store and see how many training needs you can solve with the resources you already have available. If you missed part 1 highlighting the first six steps, click here to catch up.