From Training to Learning
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by
Jeff Beals
| 14 September 2021

From Training to Learning

Dealer satisfaction with the implementation of any new technology depends on many factors. But one that may be most critical in the long term is this: Learning. And it’s an area that’s overlooked by many providers.

To clarify, learning is not the same as training. The latter word can be applied to any educational offering. But the dirty little industry secret is that not all training is equally effective at providing the optimal conditions in which students can learn. A big part of this comes down to timing.

Ready for day one

Imagine if a new technology product suddenly appeared on your desk. You didn’t know how to use it, but the system you were using up to this point had been taken away. Would you feel angry, disregarded or powerless?

That’s exactly the experience many staff members have at dealerships after migrating to a new system. As mentioned in our prior article, associates often don’t know why the new system was chosen by management, and probably weren’t offered learning opportunities until after the technology was installed.

But by then, it’s too late — because that first day counts.

The first experience someone has with a new piece of technology establishes their relationship with it from that day forward. If the first experience is positive, they are likely to maintain a positive impression of that product. Alternately, if the first experience is negative, they will continue to approach the product with a level of fear and discomfort that no amount of subsequent learning may be able to overcome.

To avoid a negative first experience, the first step is helping staff members learn how to use the technology before the first day of on-site implementation.

Foundation over perfection

That brings us to the next logical question — how much material can be reasonably covered in advance of installation? To put it in perspective, let’s use another example: a teen’s first car.

Nobody can just open the door of their first car, climb inside and innately know how to drive it well. That’s why the classroom component of high school Drivers’ Ed teaches the rules of the road and the car’s basic functions before anyone gets behind the wheel.

After that, reasonable expectations are set. When student drivers get into their cars for the first time, they aren’t expected to reenact “The Fast and the Furious.” Similarly, an associate’s first experience with new technology doesn’t have to be perfect. It can’t be: the associate has built up years of muscle memory using the previous system, and their skill with the new system will need time to catch up. Speed and mastery will grow with practice.

What’s important is that on installation day, they have the foundational knowledge to ensure their first experience will be a positive one. And no more information than that. Too much and it could become overwhelming — and that’s before adding in The Consumer Factor.

Consumers don’t stop showing up just because it’s time for implementation; they keep walking through the door to shop or get service. This is no time for staff members to learn new software. Everyone at the dealership needs to know precisely enough about the new system to turn the ignition, hit the gas and move forward, even with the added pressure of a consumer watching from the other side of the desk.

“Learned new information that I can immediately apply to my workload.”
R. Diaz | BMW of Beaumont

Encouraging commitment

The third factor of successful learning depends on the commitment of the dealership team. To help encourage support at every level, CDK Global has become the first in the industry to create a role specifically for the purpose: the Learning Coordinator.

Acting as a conduit between our Implementation Manager and the dealer, the Learning Coordinator meets with dealership management to discover their learning needs. Then they work with associates at the dealership who act as Learning Advocates and champion the program among employees. Through the Learning Advocates, the Coordinator receives preliminary information about class attendance and shares detailed learning plans that meet the dealership’s needs.

Once the session begins, the Learning Coordinator becomes the direct contact who class members go to for answers to their individual questions. This may lead to individualized instruction tailored to their preferred learning mode. Here’s why that’s important —

One kind of learning isn’t enough.

Current understanding within the education field is that not everybody learns the same way. Some people absorb information best through their sense of sight (visual learning). Others need to hear it (auditory learning). A third group needs a physical component (kinesthetic learning). These are three distinct educational languages; and if a program only teaches in one mode, people in the other two groups may get left behind.

Structure is the solution. To ensure everyone on the dealership team is equally served, CDK is leading the way by employing a structure of layered learning. All our learning programs, including implementation, are designed to maintain a balance among learning languages so information is conveyed —

  • Visually: through onscreen words and images
  • Auditorily: through engaging narration
  • Kinesthetically: through physical interaction (e.g., clicking, dragging and simulation)


If a class member finds they need further assistance, CDK instructors are quick to adapt material to the learning language that suits the individual student best.

“The instructor took time to personalize the lesson to what I needed to know. Great use of my time.”
Melissa Jacobs | Morrie’s Automotive Group

Motivation and profits

To demonstrate how profoundly this attention to learning can affect dealer satisfaction, let’s return to our earlier example of the dealer associate on day one. They’ve had an optimal learning experience as described above, so:

  • When the technology is installed, their first experience is positive.
  • This motivates them to learn more.
  • They take advantage of more of its capabilities.
  • Eventually, they become a master of the new technology.
  • Their performance becomes faster, more efficient, and more profitable for your business.


Let’s take this further: Multiply this instance by all the employees at your dealership, whether they’re a handful or more than a hundred. That’s an entire workforce providing maximum return on your investment, all of them working smarter and improving your bottom line.

Yes, there are other factors that contribute to a successful implementation. But long after the process is over, it’s the productivity of your employees that most determines dealer satisfaction. And that can be directly traced to your provider’s dedication to every aspect of learning — so everyone on your team is equipped with the skills to be successful.

What's our favorite part of implementation? See the video HERE

Jeff Beals
Jeff Beals

Jeff Beals is a senior vice president at CDK Global responsible for customer care and training. Jeff and his team focus on consistently delivering high levels of support for dealer and OEM customers through every interaction they have with CDK. He also spent nearly a decade in leadership roles at Elead, an industry-leading customer relationship management (CRM) software with a long history of exceptional service, prior to it becoming a valuable part of CDK’s suite of automotive retail solutions.

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