Your closing ratio is terrible (here's how to fix it)

Publish Date: 
Apr 17, 2013
By Tory Hornsby

YOUR DEALERSHIP’S CLOSING ratio is terrible. That’s what the statistics tell us.

However, regardless of who you are, it can be increased — assuming you can get past the “I’ve been doing this for X number of years, I know exactly what it takes, you can’t teach me how to sell more motorcycles...” attitude.

I apologize for the candor and I realize the truth can be painful, but here it is: If you knew how to increase your dealership’s closing ratio, sell more units and be more profitable, you’d be doing it right now instead of wondering why you can’t do it.

I hate the old adage, “You don’t know what you don’t know” because it ends up being an excuse to remain the same.

Nobody knows what they don’t know, but you can learn; you can improve, adjust and perform at a higher level. Unfortunately, most dealer principals are too caught up in the swirl and don’t have the intestinal fortitude to take action.

I just returned from a trip where I consulted a group of district managers for a large OEM. We spent the majority of our time working on two areas: following a sales process, and understanding the five profit centers of a dealership. After our fast-paced, intensive time together, it occurred to me that these district managers now understood more about operating a profitable and successful dealership than the majority of actual dealers. Dealer principals don’t invest in their own knowledge, so they don’t find it necessary to invest in training their team.

I’ve heard every excuse in the book when it comes to training, including “Why would I train my staff? The effects just wear off!” Well, the effects of a shower wear off, too, and that’s why you should take one every day. Or how about, “My staff is trained; I sent them to a conference last year.” That’s like saying you’re in shape and healthy because you worked out once a few months ago.

One of my personal favorites is, “Why would I train my staff? They’re just going to leave.” Think about it: The only thing worse than training an employee and having them leave is not training them... and having them stay.

Turnover is a huge challenge in this industry, especially in the sales department. Every time you lose a salesperson, it impacts your business. Turnover costs everyone time and money, and it creates a void in production. I’m often asked why there is so much turnover in powersports, and it comes down to two things: You either fire them, or they quit.

If you are firing people all the time, you have a problem with your recruiting system, hiring process and training. Your recruitment system is how you go about getting applications. One of the best recruitment systems I used back in my dealership days is putting signs all around the store. I never put up “Help Wanted” signs; instead, I made them say, “Now Hiring” and focused on the fun (have fun working in a fun place). If you can hire people who are already enthusiasts, you won’t have to do as much training on the basics of this industry.

Your hiring process should have a quality filtering system. You have to get good people. Notice I didn’t say great people or perfect people, I said good people. That means they have a good attitude, a good car (to get to work) and a good work ethic. (Continued)