Those that don’t pass the test are not allowed to sell the vehicle in question. The threat of not being able to sell Qashqai, Juke or the Fiat 500 is a considerable motivator and anyone who fails to meet the standard can re-take the test.
“The buy-in to this process is amazing and the benefits to the individual are obvious as we have sales people that are 30-40% more informed than the average. Customers will notice this very early on in their interaction with us.”
Following this process, if a salesperson is identified in a quarterly sales review as not meeting sales targets they will be invited to head office for a performance review to meet their sales manager and brand director to find out the causes.
“We do this every quarter,” Cohen said. “It is a very effective way of motivating people to pull their socks up or make the decision themselves that they are not in the right job.
“But we also want to know if we are not providing them enough support at branch level. For example, is your manager spending enough time with you? Do you not understand certain things? It can be as much of a learning experience for the sales manager as the sales person, as well as the directors. We can be very critical of ourselves, here and elsewhere in the business.”
Glyn Hopkin also has strong views on the debate about growing talent from within versus bringing it to the business from outside.
“One of our biggest challenges is providing the opportunity to satisfy staff aspirations to rise through the ranks. We make it clear at the induction that everyone can do this. Rarely do we take people on in senior roles from the outside, because our message is, if you work hard you can work here for life,” Cohen said.
How does the group prevent staff complacency generated by knowing they have a ‘job for life’?
“We track everything constantly by branch, by our targets, manufacturer targets and I see sales leads and sales figures every week,” said Cohen.
The group also has an email address, email@example.com, urging customer to give their views.
Cohen says this address is used “everywhere”.
“Customers may think it goes to a call centre, but the emails come to all the operational directors. All the staff know this and if the feedback is positive, I will congratulate the staff member in question. If negative, I will ask them why. And the relevant sales manager would resolve the complaint, co-ordinated with our customer care department.”