More Flexible, Tailored Training for Dealers

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Training courses for dealer managers and staff have to adapt to particularly busy schedules. Photo ShutterStock

Back when the notion of the personal computer was still very vague, and our telephone conversations were conducted via a device connected by a wire to a wall socket, automotive training was very different from what it is today.

It was mainly limited to the transmission of mechanical and technical notions, vehicle knowledge, traditional sales techniques such as persuasion and negotiation, and good business management. This was mainly done with the help of manuals or in the presence of a trainer.

To say that times have changed is an understatement; we’re literally living in a different era. Cars have changed, but above all, technology has evolved to the point where traditional training has become virtually obsolete.

These days, technology offers unlimited possibilities (e-learning, webinars, accompanying software, etc.). However, our schedules are crazier than ever, so the time we used to be able to devote to training is sometimes harder to find.

The technological boom

The problem is that, with vehicles more technological and complex than ever, not to mention an industry in the throes of change and electric transition, the need for better training than ever is crying out. It’s crucial to master new technologies, to rethink the way we sell vehicles to suit a new generation of customers, to foster a safe working environment where everyone can flourish, and to be familiar with the electric vehicles that are proliferating on the market.

All this represents a constant challenge for those who advocate quality continuing education.

Autosphere took an interest in the subject, and took the time to contact a few people in the field to get a feel for the reality and challenge of continuing education.

First stop at the CCAQ (Corporation des Concessionnaires automobiles du Québec) where Céline Servant, Vice-President, Human Resources, had some interesting things to say about how training is being approached in 2024.

“It takes precise strategies. 10 or 15 years ago, when we put out a call for training, people would sign up more naturally. Today, we have fewer initial responses, because everyone is busy and inundated,” she explains.

But that’s not enough to discourage the Corporation’s efforts. “We’re constantly renewing ourselves. We’re constantly on the lookout for our dealers’ needs. We keep an eye on everything. We talk a lot to first-level managers, such as general managers, to develop formulas that will be effective for everyone.

For some years now, we’ve been offering professional meetings, and once a month we offer a webinar where we develop topics with professionals and external experts. All subjects are studied, whether legal, compliance issues, health and safety in the workplace, or human resources,” she adds.

Standing out

And to be as efficient as possible, the Corporation avoids redundancy. With all the organizations offering training, not to mention those of the automakers, it’s important to be complementary: “We don’t want to develop what already exists, but rather to innovate. It’s important to develop training courses that aren’t necessarily part of the automotive industry ecosystem,” explains Céline Servant.

And which topics are the most popular? “There’s no doubt that what’s most popular is the legal field. Our members are always on the lookout for changes in legislation, such as provisions specific to automobile sales, consumer protection laws and so on. Everything to do with human resources is also gaining in popularity. At one time, this was of less interest, but today, with staff turnover, workforce challenges and the consolidation of dealerships that are part of large groups, there’s a lot to do.”

What you sense when you talk to Céline Servant is her great flexibility. “The challenge is to make people aware of what we have to offer. All our members (900 dealers) use all our services, and we’re constantly reinventing ourselves. For example, we are currently developing a certification program for our dealers.

We’re going to talk about customer experience and the sales department. It will be a cutting-edge training program designed to enhance the customer experience. This will be offered from September 2024.”

And this flexibility also includes the form of capsules that are accessible online when members need them.

Adjusting to a new reality

Cloé Gauvin, Human Resources Advisor at Mobilis Corporation in the greater Quebec City area, has a similar view. “Things have changed a lot, especially since Covid-19, when we had to readjust. The Corporation doesn’t do training, but we have partnerships with training centres in the region, like Samuel de Champlain and Wilbrod Bherer.”

And with regard to the online training alluded to by Céline Servant, Ms Gauvin agrees. “We’ve seen more and more online training and opportunities to alternate between work and study. This is appreciated by students and people with children. As for dealers, they are aware that training is necessary, but everything moves fast and time is an issue; finding the time is often a challenge.”

And Ms. Gauvin adds something very interesting, namely the fact that some training remains unknown, such as parts clerk, which can open the door to the technical advisor profession.

And one word keeps coming up in the discussion: flexibility. Communication is constant between all players. Training centres in the Quebec City area naturally consult Mobilis.

And as Céline Servant rightly points out, “the aim behind all this is to enable dealers to be and remain good employers. Those who take the training become more efficient, more competitive.”

And with the speed at which things are changing in the industry, with electrification and more and more on-board technologies, ongoing training will be more important than ever. The good news is that all dealers can count on partners dedicated to their cause.



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