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RPM Group: Dealer 20 group leader plans to focus on training – February 12, 2007

February 12, 2007
Filed under Features

It’s a paradox that is neither likely nor given in any genuine concern, but one that Sam Dantzler can’t help but appreciate.
If Dantzler and his staff at the RPM Group, the industry’s largest dealer 20 group providers, have their way, the industry’s dealerships will be filled with trained salespeople who rarely change jobs. After all, training can lead to improved sales, meaning bigger salaries, more job satisfaction and ultimately less turnover.
“So we’re training ourselves out of business if we do our jobs right,” said Dantzler, the CEO of the Denver-based company, formerly known as the Lemco Management Group.
That thought, said in jest, seems a long way from reality as evidenced by the most recent J.D. Power and Associates’ satisfaction survey. The survey of new bike buyers gave Japanese OEM dealers less than ideal marks for sales satisfaction.
Those ratings don’t reflect a lack of commitment by dealers to improve their sales staff with training, Dantzler believes.
“Dealers, I believe, are smarter,” he said. “They’re much smarter in regards to training. They know now they have to get their people trained to execute on the level that today’s powersports customer demands.”
That is why the RPM Group, which continues to build the number and diversity of its dealer 20 groups, will concentrate on training this year.
“You pick the motorcycle or the snowmobile,” Dantzler said. “There are a million different places you can go and get it, including buying it online, have the information package Fed-Exed to you and delivered to your door. So customers have so many more choices these days that they don’t have to tolerate the traditional, old-school ‘we don’t really care if you’re not a hard-core rider’ attitude that some dealerships still have,” he said.
“It’s much more customer service-driven and owners know that if they want to play the game in this market, they have to adapt. Just being courteous and nice aren’t enough. They must have the staff on that same customer service level.”
To that end, the RPM Group will be telling dealers at the upcoming Dealer Expo about two new training opportunities: a sales training series available on DVD and their new partnership with Dealership University, an Atlanta-based firm that is working with RPM to provide online training.
“A lot of our training medium has always been live, and I still think there is an extreme value to a live seminar,” said Dantzler.
The online training sessions, which will include material developed by the RPM Group, are scheduled to start in the first quarter this year.
Another option dealers have is a seven-part DVD sales training series that was recently released by the RPM Group. Each of the seven DVDs has a narrative that shows different parts of the sales process, a workbook for sales staff to follow along with and make notes in, and a trainer’s guide, which includes the answers to a test that sales staff take before advancing to the next DVD.
The package of DVDs, which will be available at the Dealer Expo, and 10 accompanying workbooks are $995 for members and $1,295 for nonmembers. The current set, which Dantzler refers to as “a huge success”, details best practices for new unit sales. RPM Group is planning on adding to its DVD packages by the end of the year with separate series on parts sales and service writer sales.
How to turn each department into a sales department is something “we’re damn good at teaching people,” Dantzler said of the company’s dealer 20 groups. But he would like to expand those group’s discussions, which often center on generating more revenue, to include scrutinizing fixed operations costs.
While covering more topics is a goal for the dealer 20 groups, including more RPM Group staff in the process is a reality.
“We’ve found some ways to give new dealers more attention in the first six months,” Dantzler said. “There is a lot more hand-holding with membership. Once (new dealers are) there for six months and they’re involved in the groups, they get the hand holding they need from the groups. But initially, it’s pretty overwhelming to jump right in.”
That’s why last summer the RPM Group started having two staff members at each dealer 20 group, a moderator and a member services representative. The latter, a new addition to the 20 groups, is there to handle any requests that come up during the meeting as well as follow up with members in regard to any questions that might arise.
Dantzler said the additional personnel has not resulted in any additional fees to dealers because the member services rep can often follow up with RPM Group training opportunities that are brought up in the meeting. psb

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