From the Editor’s Desk
Reviewing the comments from dealers in our 34th Annual Dealer Survey is often an illuminating experience. One comment that stood out among the many concerns expressed by dealers in the Survey came from one who lamented this industry does not appeal to young people.
Where have we heard that song before?
As you will see in Part II of our Survey, hiring and retention continue to rank among dealers’ top three concerns. That’s consistent with past Surveys and aligns with a business model driven by sales, a notoriously high-turnover position. Truth be told, the high rate of turnover in sales is not a phenomenon exclusive to office technology dealerships. However, it does make one wonder if sales positions have become anathema to younger generations where interpersonal relationships are increasingly virtual, and buying and selling happens with the click of a mouse, or the swipe of a card on a screen, with no human interaction.
Meanwhile, we continue to showcase young influencers in our publication, highlighting a mix of executives under 40 who are working for either dealerships or vendors serving the office technology dealer community. Anecdotally, most young people we’ve profiled over the years in sales positions within dealerships are working in the family business. It’s a rare young influencer sales executive profiled in our pages who is not a member of a family business.
Looking at the wide spectrum of positions in a dealership, including sales, how can dealers make their businesses more appealing to the next generation? Maybe dealers should emulate OEMs such as Konica Minolta and Kyocera who have hired human resources professionals whose aim is to bring in new talent—not necessarily younger people—from outside of the industry. One might describe that as “thinking outside of the box.”
One strategy is to sell the technology aspect of the business. Think about how far we’ve come from the days of standalone copiers and thermal fax machines. And let’s not overlook how marketing has become much more complex in this age of social media. Who better than someone from Generation Z–or whatever the latest generation those of us over 40 tend to complain about–to formulate marketing strategies for today’s marketplace, including leveraging social media?
But there must also be an opportunity for upward mobility within your organization. Otherwise, that young hire may take their skills elsewhere and your loss will be somebody else’s gain. That’s something to think about—not just attracting young talent but also providing them with a career path.
Yes, it’s complicated, but making this industry appealing to young people is an issue that more dealerships need to address if they plan on remaining in business for the long haul.
If not, it’s going to be the same old song.
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