Management and leadership

Five ways to stop churn and retain sales staff

Tristan Young, Editorial Director, Auto Retail Network | 27 Aug 2018

Five ways to stop churn and retain sales staff

Tristan Young, Editorial Director, Auto Retail Network | 27 Aug 2018

In this article:

Senior executives from leading dealer groups give advice on how to keep your best staff

One of the biggest headaches for any dealer group is retaining the best sales people. Depending on which report you read, staff turnover in UK retail groups is on average between 20-30% a year. However, good groups have a turnover level below 15% and the best are into single figures.

We spoke to senior executives Nigel McMinn at Lookers, Darren Guiver at Group 1 and Clare Martin at Jardine Motors to give you the five best actionable tasks to lower your sales staff turnover.

1. First and foremost is the quality of your management. This could be how you, as an individual, manage your staff or how your managers treat their teams.

"You have to have good, strong leaders because staff retention is the route to success," says Lookers' managing director Nigel McMinn. "If you have a leader whose style in the business is to command, control and criticise then that creates staff churn. You need to have managers who care for and support their staff."

2. Having the right business culture throughout the business is essential. It may be a nebulous concept but, according to McMinn, staff know what's good and what's not.

"In part it's about self-regulation. People recognise when others don’t care. Once you've got things right, you can then start to put surveys in place to monitor what people think, but it's also important for the feedback to be two-way. This means you have to have team briefings, forums for chat, opportunities for staff to tell you what they're thinking and have a system to allow whistleblowing."

3. Employee wellbeing shouldn't be underestimated. Group 1's UK chief executive Darren Guiver believes that you need to understand your staff's needs. Recognising that London has its own set of challenges, Guiver echoes what many dealer groups with sites in London find, and that is as staff get older, they often want to move out of the capital, or the commute becomes too much of a burden. While there's little that can be done about that, larger groups can offer good staff opportunities outside the city in order to retain them.

"We try to be aware of personal circumstances, and we try and accommodate someone who wants to move. We say that we've got other sites and try and accommodate them in these," says Guiver.

Managers should also check that staff are taking their holiday allowance in order to relax and de-stress, according to Jardine Motors' HR director Clare Martin.

4. Broadening the diversity and inclusion of your business is not only the right thing to do, it means your business will have an improved culture because of an increased number of views. While this will help retain staff because more people will feel accepted, it also means you're likely to sell to a wider proportion of the population. Martin said that as the ratio of women in sales increased, Jardine had found that they outperformed male colleagues and that, because the number of women was increasing, they were more likely to stay in a business that had other women to work with.

5. Pay used to be at the top of the retention list, but has fallen in importance in more recent times. If you don't get the other factors right, then pay won’t make a difference. It may well tempt people to move jobs, but it won't retain them. Many of the large groups have started adopting a higher basic salary for sales staff with a smaller proportion as the bonus element.

Bonus point. While we're mostly talking about retaining staff, it's important to discuss the above aspects of your business when you're recruiting too. If potential employees know what it's like to work in your business, they'll start with the best attitude and are less likely to have made assumptions from any previous business. However, Martin points out that retailers must deliver on any promises made when recruiting, otherwise staff will quickly leave.

Richard Ellacott

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