Introduction to Training

Milton D. Stone, Jr.
Canada, 1969

Well good afternoon, gentlemen.

We’re going to talk this afternoon about training, but before we do that I’d like to review with you a little bit about the first lesson that you had which was on recruiting.

I have just completed going around and visiting all of the dealers in the Hamilton* group and we’ve been through there for about a month and I’m finding some in pretty good shape and I’m finding some with some problems.

And most of these problems – you know we started out, we sold you this program on the basis that it would work if we get in there now and do certain things, and of course a lot of us we’ve evaluated some of our people and said “Well when we get on down the road we’re probably going to have to make a change or two,” and some of us in our group have done that and some of us haven’t.

We can get a permanent solution to our troubles through people, that’s the only way you can get a permanent solution to anything. You can correct the errors and faults of a great majority of these people but there’s one or two of ‘em that there’s just nothing anybody can do with and we need to recognize this.

Anyway, give you a little example: John Holland Motors in Burlington*. I spent Monday there. I think he signed up for ten men, that’s all he had at this particular time. Before the program was over, along about lesson three, we lost two of ‘em. Two of ‘em, when they found out about the GO system started working in another dealership somewhere where they don’t have to do the GO system.

And this is fine. These men are undoubtedly happy where they are, these men are undoubtedly doing a pretty good job where they are, and I’m certain that Mr. Holland is better off. Now he’s hired as a result of our recruiting thing that we gave you back in the recruiting lesson, he’s hired some new people, I think about five that have been trained now to the point of being turned loose.

It was very interesting to me, I was in the sales meeting Monday morning and one of the men in his first month of production -- now this is a new man a young fella I guess about 27 or 28 years old, his first month pumped out twenty units. Now I contend that that was a good swap. You swapped that man for somebody that was giving you some trouble. And the other man now is happier where he is. See?

They’ve got a contest going on down there that I’ll talk to you about when we get to motivation and it’s a gross contest trying to get the gross up you know putting the attitude on the gross not to lose any volume but to gain -- to build some gross in our deals a little bit.

There was nine gross deals up there on this contest board and they ran anywhere from a little over $500 which is what it took to get in to this particular contest up to eight hundred and fifty. Eight of these nine deals were by men that had been hired in the last six weeks. Now that means something to me.

The best deal was eight hundred and fifty dollars. It was on a half-ton pickup. The poor boy just didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to sell a half ton pickup and make eight hundred and fifty dollars on it. Now ain’t that terrible?

One of the five hundred dollar deals was on the washout on the half-ton pickup. That went out the next day. That’s thirteen hundred and seventy something dollars in a forty-eight hour period on a pickup!

Now, this is what new people and fresh attitudes will do for you.

We’re gonna talk about training today and training is something that you’ll live with as long as you’re in the automobile business but don’t overlook the forest for the trees. Because the big problem that we’ve got today and the problem that you’ll continue to have and the only thing that you can depend upon for a permanent solution to anything is the right kind of people.

You remember now that we’ve got to prospect for ‘em, just like you do for anybody else just like we do for sales, so we’ve got enough of the right kind of folks, that we can be selective.

This last little crop that Mr. Holland hired down there – and of course he didn’t do it he got a man to do it – he hired four out of forty-one that he interviewed. Now that’s being pretty selective I think and he got him some pretty good men there.

And course we’ve got to sell these people now on wanting to come in our business, ‘cause the better the man is the less likely it is that he’ll want to join the automobile business, and we know the reasons for this.

And we’ve got to have an adequate compensation program to attract him and the last thing we’ve got to do is to train him.

And we can take this young fresh fella now that doesn’t have any, any kind of personality quirks, he doesn’t know to do this or do that and he’s no problem really – and we take this man and we train him how to do the job the way we want it done. And we’ve got permanent development there working for us all the time.

Now I think some of these men will end up somewhere along the line being managers and dealers. And that’s what we need to prolong our business is to bring some fresh blood into it.

Now again we talked about training.

And I’ve been at this thing a long time and no telling how many people I’ve hired and I’ll be very frank to admit and I’m very sorry to say that most of those people are no longer in the automobile business. And the reason is not their fault. The reason is that I was like a great many of you people and I didn’t know what was important and what wasn’t important and I’d hire a young man that had a lot of talent and a lot of ability – least I thought he did when I hired him – and I’d bring him into the business and I promised him I was gonna train him and that was the end of it. I just never could quite get around to finding the time to do it. And after a week or two weeks or maybe a month, this man would be come despondent and he would leave the automobile business and so I had to do it all over again. And I’m telling you this men because I know you’ve got the same kinds of problems and it took me a long time to figure out – y’all profit from my experience.

And we know that if we do it this way it’ll pay off.

I’ll give you some figures. Lesson one, John Williamson’s dealerships four years ago, hired eleven new men. I followed those men through for the next four years to see what happened to them. One of ‘em went back out of the automobile business because we made a mistake in hiring this man just like you’ll make a mistake. Out of the other ten, one of them is now a dealer, a new car dealer, out of the other nine, they are all still with Mr. Williamson in his various dealerships and five of ‘em are managers.

Now that’s what training will do for you. Every dealership that he’s got started in Jacksonville, Florida in Key Buick Companies. Every dealership he’s got started there. Every dealer that he’s got started as a salesman that he hired and taught how to sell and then how to manage. Every manager that he’s got is like that.

And let’s ask ourselves the question sometimes “how many people do we have in our dealership that are capable of being promoted?” I hope we have a bunch of ‘em.

But we’ve got to train ‘em now to do it the way we want ‘em to do.

Okay, let’s talk a little bit about training now.

You look back over some of the schools and so forth that you’ve been in to in the course of a lifetime and you can probably pick out the one where the training was really good. Really good.

I’ve been to a bunch of schools but I think that the finest school that I ever went to in my life – it lasted four weeks – it was at Fort Benning, Georgia – it was in the summertime and it was hot – and it was a school to teach folks how to jump out of airplanes.

And gentlemen, this is an unnatural act.

So, nobody wants to jump out of a damn airplane unless he’s crazy.

Now, they take these young folks and some old ones like me, this was about 15 years ago**. They take ‘em out there and send ‘em through a certain series of things to build ‘em up and move ‘em from phase one to phase two and one day they get ‘em up on something they call a thirty-four foot tower and you jump off of that tower with a rope around you. The drop is 34 feet and the rope is something like we’ll say 30 feet so it catches you before you hit the ground.

And they build the man up to the point, not only physically but emotionally, they build him up to the point where he can do a lot of things by instinct. And when he gets up there in that damned airplane they know he ain’t gonna do it because of just knowing how to do it, he’s got to do it by instinct.

If he stands there and thinks about it long enough he won’t do it at all.

So by the time they’ve got him to the point now of jumping out the airplane, which is 4 weeks after he starts, and they tell him to get up in that damned door and look at that ground and there it is 1200 feet away and they tell him to jump there ain’t no problem.

In fact the way they do it is they hit him like that and usually before they hit you in the butt you’re gone anyway.

This is the best training that I’ve ever been to from seeing training performed by people that were dedicated to what they were doing. Of course they had a little additional incentive in there, if a guy didn’t do it right he was liable to do something wrong and get killed. See?

Which is a pretty fair incentive. We can’t employ that on our people. At least I don’t think we can. We ought not to.

I’ve seen some sales managers talk like they was gonna do it once or twice.

Now, this brings us back to training. If this kind of training was good, if this kind of training brought something out of a person that was desirable, then what is training?

Now, open your books.

*Ontario, Canada

**1954, age 31