Training plays a very important role in the success of any business operation, and the auto industry is no exception. While the need for comprehensive training for service and autobody technicians is obvious, sales representatives also benefit from introductory as well as ongoing training programs.
The Dilawri Auto Group, for example, has been providing introductory training programs for new sales reps for a number of years, and the results have been decidedly positive.
"We have found that turnover in our sales staff has decreased dramatically since we have been providing introductory training," said Glen Daman, the president of the Dilawri Group and an industry leader with a background in sales training. "We find that new sales reps are a lot better prepared when they go onto the sales floor."
One of those successful new Dilawri Group sales reps is Chris Wiebe from Sunshine Toyota.
"It was the best sales training program I have ever experienced," said the 26-year-old former MTS Connect sales manager, noting that he sold and delivered 12 vehicles in just his first month on the sales floor.
The Dilawri Group introductory sales training program consists of 2.5 days in the classroom and two to three weeks shadowing veteran sales reps on the floor until the newbies are deemed ready to make deals with the buying public. Daman said the Dilawri Group runs its introductory sales training courses every three months, or more frequently if needed.
Wiebe is one of four new sales reps at Sunshine Toyota in the Waverley Automall, where Dilawri also operates Crown Acura, Crown Nissan and Winnipeg Honda. Destination Mazda is on west Portage near the Perimeter while Crown Honda is on north McPhillips).
Tammi Gouzecky has also gone through the training program and sold seven models in July. Gouzecky has actually worked at Sunshine Toyota since she was 18, starting as a receptionist. From the front desk, she moved to the business office, and now has been selling for the past two months.
Ottavio Giannico and Wade Knight both started working at Sunshine Toyota in July and are eagerly awaiting their opportunity for training. Knight is just 21. He'd been working at CIBC for three years but saw a better opportunity in auto sales. (Incidentally, Knight's grandfather, Bill Knight, is a long-time sales rep at Selkirk Chrysler.)
Giannico had been selling tires, but also felt that there is greater opportunity in the auto industry.
Murray Chev introduces sales apprenticeship program
Murray Chev has always been a strong believer in sales training for its staff. Last fall, however, the Waverley Automall dealer introduced a new "sales apprenticeship" program for first-time sales reps.
"It was (sales manager) Jim Chewka's idea," said Jarrett Beyko, also a sales manager who is in charge of the program.
The apprenticeship program consists of two parts. First comes a three-week classroom training period. Then the apprentice sales rep is assigned to a mentor -- one of Murray Chev's industry-leading sales reps -- to shadow for up to three months.
"We want our new people to experience first-hand a certain level of professionalism," Beyko said. "We believe that our program increases new sales reps' chances for success."
Stefan Zhanel was the first sales apprentice to go through the program. The 20-year-old University of Manitoba Economics student began the program last September after working at the dealership in reception for a few months.
"The training program was phenomenal," he said. "My mentors were Mike Richardson and Craig Pucely, two of the top sales reps here. I saw their profound commitment to customer service."
In total, five young sales reps have now completed the program or are in the midst of it. Louis Dupasquier, 21, who joined the Murray sales team four months ago from Cargill. said "one of the biggest things I learned was the importance of sticking to the basics.
Derek Pearson came to Murray Chev around the end of May. The former Canadian Navy sailor and auto wholesaler said that coming to Murray Chev was the best decision that he's ever made. "The training and support have been great," he added.
Cristele Gagne had been involved in international sales focusing on the Far East with Pollard Banknote, but "I wanted something in sales where I didn't have to travel as much."
"I decided to give auto sales a try," said Gagne, who started on the sales floor in mid-June. "There's a lot to learn and the apprenticeship program has been very helpful."
Gagne had an existing connection with Murray Chev. Her older brother, Cedric, was a sales manager at the dealership. A couple of years ago, the Murray Auto Group offered him the opportunity to become managing partner in a new Murray Auto Group GM dealership in White Rock, B.C.
The newest apprentice sales rep is Bramdon Lucas. The 19-year-old started out at Murray Chev as a lot attendant. He started the apprenticeship program at the beginning of June and began selling at the beginning of August. He sold his first vehicle in his first week on the sales floor.
"The apprenticeship program is awesome," he said. "It is the best way to start a new job."
Waverley Chrysler assistant body shop manager moves to sales floor
Sue Douglas is enjoying her new role at Waverley Chrysler on the sales floor after seven years with the dealership working in the body shop.
Originally from Thunder Bay, Douglas joined the Chrysler dealer's body shop as assistant manager in 2005 when the store first opened as Eastwood Chrysler.
"It is very exciting to see the auto industry from a different perspective," Douglas said. "This is an opportunity to learn something new. There is a lot to learn and I am doing a lot of training."
Douglas may well have an advantage over other new sales reps. She has a lot of contacts -- and thus potential customers -- from her years working in the back end.
MMDA Golf Tournament Raises $75,000 for Charity for Special Olympics
The Manitoba Motor Dealers Association held its 24th annual Charity Golf Tournament on July 18 at Pine Ridge Golf and Country Club.
Geoff Sine, the MMDA's executive director, reports that the annual event attracted a record 160 golfers this year and raised $75,000 for Special Olympics Manitoba. In total, the MMDA has raised more than $1 million over the past 24 years for the Special Olympians.
Sine noted, however, that this was the last year for the annual golf tournament.
"The focus has changed over the years," he said. "Originally, the idea was for people to have fun. The emphasis changed to raising money. The dealers support a wide variety of charities throughout the year and there are a lot of fundraising golf tournaments."
For next year, the MMDA is considering introducing a cocktail-party fundraiser to raise money for auto-industry training, recruitment and scholarships.
Vickar Group and Transcona Rotary Club support Filipino Charitable Organization
Tomorrow, (August 11) at 8 a.m., Larry Vickar and several members of his staff will be at Kildonan Park to participate in the annual 5K ANCOP Walk to raise money for needy Filipinos.
ANCOP Foundation USA is a Christian-based organization founded by Couples for Christ which helps the very poor in the Philippines and other countries by providing support to select organizations that work with the needy. The current projects focus on child education, sponsorship programs and values formation. The Walk brings together hundreds of participants from across the U.S. and North America, walking together to help the poor in the Philippines and Third World countries.
The Vickar Auto Group partnered with the Transcona Rotary Club a couple of years ago to build the Vickar Transcona Rotary Village in the Philippines for underprivileged Filipinos. Larry Vickar is a longstanding member of the Transcona Rotary Club.
Vickar said that Vida Cuares, ANCOP's Toronto-based Canadian representative, is in Winnipeg for the Walk this year and will be around for another week.