Training your staff is easier (and cheaper) than you think

Publish Date: 
Oct 26, 2012
By Eric Anderson

AS A CUSTOMER in your store, I am a prima donna. I am the guy with the wallet, and I want special treatment. When properly trained customer service and salespeople go through the right steps at Starbucks or Ace Hardware, I feel the “warm fuzzy” inside. I will stay longer and return more frequently to buy more. 

Lately, it feels like the turnover rate of employees in powersports dealerships is reaching a new high, and customer service a new low. Will the “minimalist mentality” currently in the dealer community actually drive customers away? Not if you have properly trained staff.

Shopping is no longer geo-tied, so why should education and training be? Your computer and mobile device also can become your school. Proper training for your staff doesn’t have to be done by an expensive consultant. Get with the times and bring your staff up to speed.    

We aftermarket manufacturers used to travel the North American landscape, bribing dealers to hear our spiel at local hotels in exchange for free pizza and raffle prizes. The difference now is the industry’s implemented online training — an initiative that saves lots of time, travel and money on both sides.

We won’t be learning new ideas the same way five years from now. Yes, we will biologically learn the same way — via reward and consequence — but geographically we will not. Brick-and-mortar schools will continue to exist because our society still needs a place for children and adults to learn in a physically collaborative environment; however, the concept of being tied to a singular concrete structure in order to learn new things is gone forever.

Eventually we won’t need 35,000 high school chemistry teachers in America; rather, we’ll need a few great teachers online and a lot of local teacher’s assistants (TAs) doing follow-up. The Internet can filter out the bad and multiply the good, thus allowing our next generation of students the best teaching methods on the planet. And it can substantially reduce the costs of old-fashioned classroom concepts.   

University of Phoenix, DeVry, Khan Academy and even Harvard and Cambridge are training millions of people online. E-learning has been in the powersports industry since Harley-Davidson introduced it to its dealers in 2002. The first aftermarket e-learning course was produced by Scorpion helmets in 2005.

Remember extension and correspondence courses? They were the mail-order versions of what is happening right now with your OEM and aftermarket e-courses. If you were a Kawasaki dealer, you saw and experienced the new emphasis on iPads at the OEM’s sales meetings to be used for everything, including training. If you know Dealership University, you will be familiar with all the courses from KYMCO and KTM, and more courses from aftermarket brands like Shoei. Most OEM e-courses are password-protected for their dealers.  (continued below)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dealership University is bringing more than 20 certification-based business and retail seminars to Dealer Expo 2013. For more information, click HERE.


True e-learning is interactive, data-capturing, cadence-controlling and engaging. Someday, learning will almost be like playing a video game. Humans learn better from making mistakes and then learning how not to repeat them. Simple! Get zapped (Ouch!) for being wrong and rewarded (Applause!) for being right.

Lesser forms of online training don’t have a Learning Management System backend; rather, they are nice PowerPoint presentations with an audio track, and they conclude with a volunteer-submitted test. Videos posted on YouTube usually don’t qualify as e-learning since there is no tracking system nor quantification of retention (i.e. test). Still, they are free. Look for manufacturers offering rewards.  (continued)