The primary job of the salesperson is to establish trust with the prospect. For most car buyers, a new car is often one of the biggest purchases of their lives. To complete a sale, the auto industry must work to build authentic relationships with these customers, connecting with them well before a car will be driven off the lot.
Because customers come from all walks of life, maintaining a diverse workforce in your dealership is critical to establishing connections with a wider range of individuals. In fact, one of the most important factors for predicting sales revenue, according to an article in the American Sociological Review, is diversity, with a diverse workplace correlating to an increase in sales, profits and customers.
Described as any characteristic, perspective or approach to work that individuals bring to the workplace, diversity includes:
- Physical: age, gender, race, etc.
- Cultural: ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
- Socio-economic: education, social class, etc.
What’s more, according to IHS Markit, 28 percent of 2016 model year vehicle registrations in the U.S. were by ethnic consumers, such as Hispanics, Native Americans, African-Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders, and that percentage is projected to continue growing in the coming years.
Ideally, dealerships should aim to have a workforce similar to the demographic makeup of the market they serve. This helps minimize any potential language barriers and will help customers better relate to, and more quickly connect with, members of your sales team.
Not only does a diverse workplace provide a direct benefit to the customers, it has a number of additional benefits for the dealership as a whole, all ultimately resulting in higher sales and revenue. These benefits include:
An Increase in Productivity
Diversity in the workforce has been shown to increase productivity by creating competitive advantages and increased employee morale, resulting in a greater desire for employees to work more effectively. In leadership, in particular, diversity allows management to achieve better unity within their teams. Employees tend to feel like the environment is one that rewards people based on merit and fairness, rather than preferential treatment, when a workplace is more diverse, as well. Perhaps most importantly, customer service is improved because employees can better meet the needs of their diverse customer base.
An Increase in Creativity
Innovation, problem-solving and creativity thrive in an environment with different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds. Increased diversity will translate into more efficient teamwork and collaboration, particularly in coming up with new strategies for navigating the sales process.
An Increase in Positive Reputation
In addition to creating greater opportunity to connect with a larger group of customers, a diverse workforce will attract more potential employees and help retain current top talent. Improving employee morale and diversity in the workplace also lets prospective candidates know your dealership does not discriminate and treats staff fairly. This makes your dealership a more attractive prospect for strong potential candidates, making them more likely to seek you out for new job opportunities. Ultimately, the more qualified, top talent on your sales team, the better your sales rates.
In addition to hiring individuals from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, dealerships should consider an influx of women in the salesperson role, as well. Currently, women are underutilized in the auto industry despite the fact that they influence 85 percent of all car purchases in the U.S., and spend more than $80 billion on vehicles annually. In 2015, however, women made up less than 20 percent of new hires, and the turnover rate for female sales consultants was 88 percent, up three percent from last year.
Hiring for Diversity
Creating a diverse team at your dealership does not mean you have to fire your current staff and start from scratch. It just means that moving forward you have to create an inclusive atmosphere that attracts people from multiple backgrounds.
For example, if you find that your dealership is looking to hire more female employees, create an environment that will naturally appeal to them. Offer benefits such as child care, sponsorships and scholarships geared toward women and emphasis continued professional growth. Create a safe, family-focused environment that will draw the right type of candidate you are looking for.
Once you’ve established these types of incentives, you’ll notice the diversity among your applicants naturally begin to rise.
Not only does diversity create better customer relations with today’s consumer base, a more diverse employee pool helps generate new ideas and perspectives for the dealership, boosts employee morale and helps attract new prospective employees. With the diversity in consumers expected to continuing growing, diverse employees should remain a top priority for your dealership for years to come.