Decades of high cost of training and unprecedented employee turnover has left the automotive industry scratching its head as to what to do. Turnover has been as much as 70%, which has helped create what we can officially call “a viscous cycle” for the dealer owner. Professional trainers and coaches are an essential part of the on-going support needed for employees, but dealers have been pulling back over the concern that it won’t make a difference and that the employee will be trained, only to leave their dealership for the next best offer. It was time for a change in our mindset. There was at least one automotive influencer who believed there is a solution.
Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit organization was founded in 2017 by Richie Bello with the mission to bring trained veterans into the automotive industry. Bello, a long time automotive influencer is not a veteran yet has been a long-time advocate for supporting our U.S. military and has strong conviction as to a veteran’s value in the workplace. “Veterans are proven to be more hungry, reliable and disciplined in their areas of career choice.” stated Bello. The industry is no stranger to veteran reliability. It already employs approximately one in five with veterans. He continued: “What we need to do is put more trained veterans into our dealerships, offering them opportunities in this money-making industry.” Bello was already capable of delivering veterans to dealerships through his software solutions and digital media platforms. Dealers needed more. The Institute asked for help and raised enough support to offer a program that trains the veteran prior to employment and is self-funded, so the certified veteran does not pay one penny for the program. “I am so grateful for the amazing support we are getting from our industry’s suppliers.” Bello touted. “We are now in position to place enough veterans into dealerships that will make a real difference. These friends of our industry have allowed us to self-fund the veterans and not wait for the government grants.” The Institute passes the benefit to the dealer by eliminating recruitment efforts, making sure the recruits are properly trained, and giving the dealer the on-going support they need to sustain their team. The Institute provides the veteran free access to on-going training in their area of certification. This allows the dealer a lower than usual and customary cost, by reducing the cost of recruitment, training and overall turnover.
The Institute bridged with Washington to share its intent with the Veterans Administration and to review the mission of the Institute so it became aligned from the start. Grants are not issued for this type of program until the organization is up and running for two years. That would take a great deal of investment and time, but Bello got the support he needed from some of the country’s leading automotive vendors who stepped up to sponsor the training of veterans. That took Bello over a year to raise, so that at this time, the Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management can put as many as fifty (50) veterans a month into the program. The Institute is offering veterans certification in their automotive career path of choice and on-going training, so the dealer and the veteran benefit. Veterans can be trained in sales, service, parts, management and more.
Automotive dealerships in New York, Arizona, Georgia and Florida are the launch markets for the initial groups of trained veterans. Veterans are being informed through veteran affairs offices that will share the complimentary program, as well as custom audience social media. Richie Bello is using his influence to support both factions. The Institute is currently aligning with partners that will support the veteran from entry level to management and for some, ownership. The goal is to give the veteran a clear path to move up the ranks of the automotive industry.