Well, you know it’s inevitable.  Eventually some in your dealership will leave, either voluntarily or involuntarily, but will exit nonetheless.  Instead of just allowing people to ride off into the sunset, why not invest 5 to 10 minutes with them on the off-chance that you could learn a little something?  You may be surprised at how many people with experience in your workplace possess valuable information that you could put to good use.

Whether you’re mad, sad or glad about the exit, you should never miss an opportunity to gain additional insight into your operation.


We strongly recommend that no one take this strategy lightly.  You shouldn’t just wing it or put it out there for any manager to handle on the fly.  All of your exit interviews should follow a specific outline designed to keep every session brief and productive.  Wing it and they get less productive, less informative, and could even backfire or get personal.
This is important because another reason to incorporate exit interviews is to increase the chance of ending on a good note with the person leaving.  Remember, they’re consumers too!

The exit interview outline found below is designed to extract useful suggestions and insight from the other party.  Let’s review our main objectives in performing exit interviews.


Objective #1 – Perform an exit interview with everyone, if possible

It’s OK if you have to do it by phone or email.  However, some strive to do as many in person as possible.  One advantage of completing the exit form by phone or email allows them time to sincerely consider suggestions and feedback.


Objective #2 – Organize and use the form

1. Take time to review the exit interview form.

The first thing on it is the employee’s reason for leaving.  You really don’t want to spend a lot of time here but it’s good for the company records, nonetheless.  

2. Ask the employee how can customer satisfaction be improved?

To trigger some input you may have to give a few examples and remind them it’s not just in the department they worked in.

3. Ask the employee how can employee satisfaction be improved?

This may trigger discussion on employee treatment, training issues, quicker deliveries, pay plans, support from service and an assortment of other comments that you can filter through later.  Remember, when you want more information, ask them to expand on or clarify why they feel this way.

4. Ask the employee how can profitability be improved?

That is – any suggestions they may have that could generate income and or control expenses.

5. Ask the employee what’s their take on the overall dealership image & ask for suggestions.

Ask them to identify pros and cons of working for your company.  This will reveal areas you are doing well in and uncover needed improvements, if applicable.


Objective #3 – Make sure the appropriate party carries out the exit interviews

Most of the time, the General Manager or Dealer would handle the sessions.  However in the event they are not available or hey, maybe they were the problem; you will want Plan B in place.  Plan B must be a qualified manager or two who understands the true importance and purpose to execute this meeting as designed.


Objective #4 – Keep the exit interview brief and on track

Preface all meetings with a statement like: “Tom, we are always looking for ways to improve our operation and we value your opinions. This should only take 5 to 10 minutes and we would like for you to be candid and share your viewpoint in a few areas”.  Then proceed using your form.  You don’t want to rush through this, but anything over 5 to 10 minutes is probably overkill.  Sometimes you may need to let them off the hook by saying that if they can’t think of anything right now, to please feel free to keep a copy of the form and email or mail it back after they have had a chance to think about their answers.

With these exit interviews, some will complain, some will provide valuable insight, and on occasion, you’ll get some real doozies.  Sometimes you will discover some perceptions that may be shared by other employees that you can act on.  Exit interviews can uncover extremely valuable information, so don’t overlook an opportunity to strengthen your dealership.  I used this when I was a GM.  It captured some great ideas and indeed many employees exited on a more favorable note.

Richard Keeney
The Mar-Kee Group
251-680-6633 (cell)

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