Job seekers are willing to work at dealerships — but not selling cars.
"Any role, other than salesperson, creates a lift in interest" among job hunters asked about working in auto retailing, said Isabelle Helms, vice president of research and market intelligence for Cox Automotive in Atlanta.
That is one finding in a study released last week by Cox and Hireology, a Chicago hiring and retention technology provider. Cox surveyed about 800 job seekers and 393 dealership employees, of whom 50 were managers or owners, on hiring and retention. Cox collected the data from about this time last year through mid-2017.
"We did it because of the tremendous turnover in this industry," Helms told Automotive News. "We know this negatively impacts the consumer experience and morale of the staff."
Helms said the average annual turnover for sales staffers is 67 percent, which creates a dilemma for many dealers.
"If you're a dealer, you think, 'Why would I want to invest in people if they're going to quit?'" said Helms. "But they quit because of a lack of training. So it's a case of the chicken or the egg."
Of the job seekers surveyed, 5 percent said they'd be interested in working in the automotive industry, but of those, only a quarter said they would want to work in a dealership, Helms said.
"But when you start talking about other roles in a dealership besides sales, interest increased. It went from a quarter to about a third," Helms said.
For women, that interest rose to 28 percent from 18 percent when considering jobs other than sales. For millennials, it rose to 38 percent from 31 percent, said Helms.
One turnoff to sales jobs is the pay structure, with 37 percent of those surveyed equating a commission pay plan with a sales role, Helms said. Another is that 31 percent of job seekers don't believe they're qualified or have the necessary skills for a sales job.
"We have dealers tell us frequently that they look for people who work at the Apple Store or at restaurants," implying prior automotive experience is not required, said Helms. "But many don't advertise that in job ads."