Super Training Tips...from a Supermarket?
By Mark Dubis
Web Editor for Automotive Digest, Former Editor of Digital Dealer Magazine
If you live along the East Coast, especially in the NY, PA, NJ, VA or MA areas you have probably heard of a supermarket called Wegmans. This is a company that has been selected as one of the best companies to work for time and time again, and it would not be out of hand to say they have a loyal “cult following.” Wegmans just announced they are coming to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina and excited North Carolinian’s lit up Twitter about their anticipation and excitement. So what’s special about a supermarket that has so many superfans?
This isn’t a simple question but there are some obvious answers. Their average supermarket stocks from 50,000 to 70,000 items at reasonable prices. They are also the top seller of gluten-free products. They have an open market feel and in addition to their groceries they have a bakery, cheese shop, sushi bar, pizza and pasta shop and a sit down restaurant. And while the employees may seem secondary to the ambiance of the stores, they are actually the secret to Wegmans success. In 2015, Wegmans received 4,000 requests from 48 states to build stores in those areas, but because the store puts such an emphasis on training they only open 4 stores a year. They spend several months training each employee about their culinary offerings.
In addition to their extensive training regimen, Wegmans also has a store culture that respects their employees and offers a great work environment. Here is an excerpt from their website:
Wegmans believes in:
They are selective in who they hire, treat their employees well, and annual turnover is about 5%. Their average base pay for hourly employees is $33049.00 per year. Now compare that to the auto industry where we see some dealerships with a 60% or higher turnover rate. While there are a number of reasons for the high amount of employee turnover in dealership sales departments, there are still thousands of auto dealership owners that provide a culture where each employee is valued and provided with training materials, support, and respect.
People don’t go to Wegmans to just buy groceries they go for the experience. Friendly people greeting them, helpful advice at every turn, and a truly caring attitude is what builds the loyal Wegmans customer base.
In dealerships, automotive managers should be slow to hire, and slow to fire in order to give employees a chance to develop their skills. Where Wegmans provides months of training, the typical dealership provides a few weeks which consist of learning to fill out forms, canned scripts, and product knowledge. Too often customers know more about the vehicles than the sales professional.
The good news is that many dealers now offer ongoing training programs and work with trainers who regularly visit the stores to maintain consistent and regular training and reinforcement of those elements. Most of the top training companies also offer on line courses which offer flexibility and allow the user to proceed at their own pace.
Developing a store culture of mutual respect and recognition will also bring about visible changes in attitude and increases in revenue. Consumers will focus on the total value provided as well as the price. Investments in training and improving the work environment will pay big dividends in the long term. Emulating the Wegmans process could be a real trip down the aisle to your goals.