10 Tips for Building an Internship Program

Why Interns? 

Have you ever found yourself wishing you had a larger sales staff during Riding Season? Are you unable to make follow up calls to keep in touch with customers who have shown interest because you are busy prospecting new walk-ins? Do you purchase lists that you are unable call or email? Are you invited but unable to attend community events where you could showcase your inventory and staff?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions I have the solution – an internship program. If you don’t have an internship program, now is the time to start preparing. It’s a lot of work to build a successful program but in my experience, when done right, an internship program is a powerful way to grow your dealership.
Odoo text and image block

Ashley's 10 Tips for Building an Internship Program

Odoo image and text block

What Kind of Internship Programming are You Offering?

Establish your needs, then develop expectations. This becomes your program description.

In order to find the right people you need to first think about what you want to get out of your interns, no one can read your mind. If you want sales people be up front and say that. Sales isn't for everyone so don't hide the fact that your interns will be expected to sell and judged by sales numbers.

Start a Program Description

Harley-Davidson’s mission is “Fulfilling dreams of personal freedom”. That’s our purpose and passion.  When you buy a Harley-Davidson you don’t buy a motorcycle you buy into a lifestyle. You can sell bikes, can you sell the excitement of selling bikes?

"YOUR DEALERSHIP NAME is offering an internship program that promises to deliver hands on experience in sales and marketing as well as event planning and execution in an industry driven by commitment to exceptional customer experiences. We are looking for individuals who want to shape the future of the sport of motorcycling. We can give you the tools to help you break into an exciting career."

Odoo image and text block

Market the Internship

Post the internship program on social media, put information in your email newsletter, and most importantly reach out to the local colleges and vocational schools in your area. 

Find each local college's internship coordinators and send the program description and be sure to follow up with a call. If they’ll take a meeting set one up. This relationship becomes very important to you. Colleges send their students to places they trust. They want to know their students will receive good job experience and that if they perform well that these interns could be considered for full time opportunities should they become available. 

Odoo image and text block

Find the Right People

The Interview: Ask questions that will help you uncover whether they are passionate, driven, motivated workers. Remember you are looking for Sales people, not just kids to make copies and file paperwork. Will they be able to build relationships with customers? How do you currently interview sales people? Ask these same questions. Be sure to ask them why they want your internship and what they know about you? Find people that took the time to research you too so you know there’s real interest and desire for the position? I hire for the right personality because I know I can rely on my training to educate them on the dealership and products.

Odoo image and text block

Put Someone in Charge

You need to specify one full time person at the “Internship Coordinator”. This can be time consuming in the beginning BUT it gains you 3 sales people. Your internship coordinator will provide monthly assessments for each intern to give feedback and any additional training needed.  

Odoo image and text block

Training

You don't just put someone on a Harley and hope for the best, you give them the skills and information they need to be a good driver. It's the same with sales. 

Your interns don’t need to be experts in each department but they need to understand how your business works. They should spend time in each department, shadow, receive some sort of handbook/reference guide. If you think about the CUSTOM (Connect, Understand Needs, Satisfy Needs, Trial Close, Obtain Commitment, Maintain Relationship) sales process, your interns can help you Connect with people.

They can meet people at the dealership as well as events and assist with the Understand Needs stage as well. Listening is key here. They meet people, gather contact information and get to know the needs and interests of a prospective customer. They will also follow up with people that have “Shopped around” but have not yet purchased.

The Scorpus App lets interns enter customer information and create sales opportunities needs in under a minute. Your salespeople can then follow up on the new customers and opportunities.

When a customer is ready to purchase they will solicit help from a more experienced salesperson. Notice how I don’t say "hand-over the sale." Remember, if someone leaves, you're training their replacement. Allowing your interns to shadow a full-timer and see the full sales process through to the end is a great learning experience.

Odoo text and image block
Odoo image and text block

Make Them a Part of the Team

Provide an in-house seminar including: 

Background on Harley as company (Consider the video documentary)

Who are you? Is your dealership a Family business, do you have multiple dealerships to pull inventory from? Do you specialize in events, do you have a strong relationship with your HOG membership? They need to know and understand your culture and sales philosophy.

They should meet everyone including: everyone’s name, length here, why they ride….etc. in a "Get-to-know-you" session.

Odoo image and text block

Provide the Right Tools

Provide handbook to facilitate everything above and give them mobile desk/info as they move around and take notes.

Provide tools like:

  Educate them on bike inventory. Not just the bikes but the type of rider they appeal to.

Provide Sales training: Opening relationships, calls, emails, importance of data collection and entry. 

  Rotate them through the departments shadowing current staff. 

Jumpstart: Must go through this AND should be trained well enough to do it for others at the dealership and at events.  (Perhaps you’ll find people that already ride. Perhaps you’ll find some interns interested in going through the motorcycle safety course)

Talk to people. The best way to learn is to jump in. They need to pick up the phone and make calls, attend your events and walk the dealership floor.

Odoo image and text block

Structure Their Time (What is expected daily?)

Interns are young, energetic, and malleable. It's important to provide a structured day so that everyone gets the most out of your program.

Tasks to schedule:

  Answer Incoming / make outgoing calls

  Fill in/ assist in departments.  Floor greeter, mobile to move around?

  Birthday/ bike anniversary calls out of CRM

  Calls to leads received from events, H-D Net.

  Data entry from events, prospecting is very important

  Attend events; act as street team for dealership

  Marketing: Social Media. Use their age and love of technology and social media to your advantage.

Odoo image and text block

Get Organized

Make sure you document what is expected and completed by your interns. At the end of each day, each week and at the end of the internship your dealership should know how many calls and emails were made. The number of new prospects that came from events. And most importantly sales numbers. Explain these are real numbers for their resume and, of course, this is how you'll judge them if you have a full-time position available and need to hire someone.

Odoo image and text block

Do the Math

Take marketing money and shift it over to internships.  Do you need radio ads and more billboards or a larger sales force? After years managing internship programs and marketing budgets I promise you that you make more money having interns.

Figures to consider:

  What's your state’s minimum wage?

  How man interns in the program? (I suggest 2-3 interns)

  Each intern works 3, 8 hour days at the dealership, plus a weekend event on-site or off-site lasting approximately 8 hours. (32 hours x 3 interns = 96 hours ...  96 hours x Minimum Hourly Wage = $X ... $X x 30 weeks = Estimated cost to run internship program)

  The number of weeks includes time leading into your riding season. This is necessary for training and can be adjusted to fit the needs and traffic for your dealership.

Numbers don't lie. By taking the time to look at what you need and when you need it you gained 3 sales people for less than what one full-timer costs you. How much can 3 additional people help you sell?  I guarantee it's more than a print ad in your newspaper.

Odoo image and text block

Did you find this article helpful?

Scorpus is here to revolutionize your dealership.

I'd love to give you a personal tour of Scorpus and show you how your dealership can use Scorpus to sell more bikes, motorclothes, accessories, and service.

Schedule a Personal Tour with Ashley

Scorpus is built to sell more bikes, motorclothes, accessories, & service.

Take the 3 Minute Tour

Kickstart it with Scorpus

Be the first to know about our Dominant Sales Ideas.