When economic conditions change and sales drop off, dealers often start reviewing items they previously spent little time on. One of those items is personnel. Personnel is scrutinized on multiple fronts—staffing levels, productivity, and training.

Dealers start looking closely at employee staffing and productivity in addition to overall dealership gross profits. The current all-dealer (domestic, import, and highline) Benchmark® departmental gross profit per employee is $9,275. Major deviations in either direction may indicate opportunities for improvement.

Regarding dealership support staff, improvements in technology have allowed dealers owning multiple stores to consolidate duties in areas of accounting, titling, and HR. Distance is no longer an impediment, and overlap is being eliminated to streamline processes.

In the service department, where the average service advisor produces $39,552 of labor gross profit, dealers are reviewing how resources are being spent on training these individuals. All too often, they receive little training and attention, yet produce higher gross profit levels than most sales professionals ($24,608 on average) who receive ongoing training.

To drive the service advisor results even higher, dealers are focusing on more training of the basics and making sure the service advisor is not so overworked that he or she does not serve the customer adequately. The ratio of service advisors to technicians should be 1:3.6, and service advisors should write 12 to 16 new customer pay, or warranty repair orders each day. (Notice the word “new,” as there will always be open repair orders they are still working on.) This level allows the service advisor to focus properly on each customer to maximize gross profit and CSI.

Additionally, dealers are reviewing the departmental gross profit generated by retail sales managers. If you don’t think sales managers generate retail gross profit, think again. You pay them to manage your sales team and part of that management is to make sure your sales team performs. To find the gross profit generated by your retail sales manager, combine the gross profit generated by each salesperson they are directly responsible for. Compare that number to other sales managers on your team, or to other 20 Group members to determine if you have undiscovered opportunities here.

We work in a people-driven service business; therefore, the concern should never be, “What if I train my people and they leave?” Instead, it should be, “What if I don’t train them and they stay?” The opportunities lost with inadequate staff training will far outweigh any training cost spent on those who leave.