Talking training with Dealership University's Rod Stuckey


Dealernews: Why does training have to be quantifiable?

Rod Stuckey: What get’s measured gets done. The dealership is a fast-paced world with more to do each day than time to do it in a day. Measurement creates accountability — and without accountability, training often gets pushed on the back burner due to all of the other fires that have to be put out.

DN: Why is it important that training be interactive?

RS: In 1946 the famous educator Edgar Dale created a diagram called the Cone of Experience, which is also often known as the cone of learning. The purpose of the cone was to provide a visual example of various teaching levels and materials. It illustrates that the level of retention is consistently improved as the nature of our involvement increases. Therefore, the more “interactive” training is the greater the level of retention. Furthermore, interactive training tends to be more engaging, therefore making it more interesting and enjoyable for the learner.

DN: How important is it that any sort of training be able to be replicated?

RS: Very important. Many times, sales are missed by a few words, not a few dollars. But furthermore, the ability to replicate consistent results is accomplished through systems. Systems in a business are like rules in a game and are often interdependent among other systems in the dealership. So breaking down one system can have a domino effect on the other systems. Without them, you have disorder, which leads to chaos and poor results. And once you allow a variance in your expectations from one staff member, it becomes contagious among the others.

DN: Why is consistency so important to training and education?

RS: Training is a journey, not a destination. It’s the ole sharpen-the-saw story. Just like with fitness, the point at which you quit exercising is the point at which your fitness begins to decline. The game is ever-evolving — especially right now — and it takes continually educating yourself on what’s working, what’s not, and making the necessary adjustments at a rapid pace. As for your staff, creating the desired behaviors is only possible through consistent clarification and re-enforcement of expectations (training) and measurement against those expectations.

DN: What should a dealer look for in any sort of training or educational offering?

RS: I believe training has to be an ongoing blended approach. Sometimes it takes consuming mountains of information to find two small gold nuggets, but it’s worth it. As for the dealer principals, they must be resourceful. Trade magazines, DMS providers, 20 groups, OEMs, trade shows, vendors — they should take advantage of as much as possible and flow it down to key staff members.

With that said, it’s important that a dealer uses his own good judgment about what’s best for his store and considers the source. Sometimes the training offered has a hidden agenda.

If I were going to hire a trainer to coach me in a fight that was for my life, I’d want one who had been in the ring before, bloody, beaten and battered. Not someone who understood all of the best techniques but had never actually thrown a punch, much less taken a punch. Wisdom comes from experience. I’d look for true subject matter experts who live, eat, sleep and breath the powersports industry and have real-world experience combined with ongoing continuous education. Not part-timers who do training after hours, or “generalists” who modify their content and attempt to make it applicable for powersports dealers.

Additionally, I’d look for a training program that was a “system” that could be consistently replicated over and over with each employee and new hire.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews November 2010 issue.