Best PracticesDealership Operations & Processes

Did You Know You Can Drown In Green Peas?

It is possible to drown green peas.

It’s a sad occurrence. And it is rarely their fault they drown.

Green peas, or as they’re known in other industries as newbies, noobs, colts, rookies, freshman, recruits, or greenhorns, are a part of every organization. Inevitably, through either attrition or an expanding sales force, companies have to bring new hires aboard. With little orientation and even less training, we throw them into the water with a sink or swim mentality. Some survive by learning how to paddle, and some sink to the bottom of the sales board. 

Green peas, sadly, do not seem to have the same value to leadership in the organization as a veteran. They take work. Attention. Guidance. Training. All of this takes time and effort from your instructors (read: managers). Yet, managers are often too busy watching the smooth swimming motion of their most seasoned performers than the green peas waving their arms and thrashing about in the deep end. This is one reason why the attrition rate in the automotive industry, for instance, is so high, and why the need to have better processes bringing new hires into the fold is so dire.

If our goal is to make everyone successful under the roof of our organization, we need to spend more time recruiting, hiring, orienting and training the green peas. Outsiders already consider us sharks. We have the ability, nay, the responsibility to change the perception of our industry from the inside-out, and it starts with training everyone, new and old, to deliver an amazing customer experience. Giving them all the skills necessary to be good swimmers can be life saving to your organization.

Did you know you can drown in green peas?

It’s true! I’ve seen it happen.

Smart management loves having green peas in the store. It is a breath of fresh air to have someone who is moldable and trainable, eager to listen and follow instructions. Implement a good training regimen and you will see someone staying in his or her lanes, mastering all the different strokes, and putting in maximum effort. There is a caveat here, though. I’ve seen organizations bring on too many green peas at once. It makes the situation totally unmanageable.

In some ways, green peas are like babies when learning to swim. You wouldn’t give your baby with zero buoyancy to a swim instructor already trying to oversee a dozen novice swimmers, would you? No. Because you know how quickly one or more could go under with little ability to save them all. For this reason, a floor flooded with green peas is destined to fail.

If you have a staff of 10-12 salespeople, 2 green peas at a time are acceptable. If you have 25 salespeople, sure you may be able to keep an eye on 4 green peas. Will they all be good swimmers after 6 months? Typically you will have lost at least one. When looking at your staffing situation, you need to always be hiring and always be training, but never too much at once. The only way your dealership will stay afloat is to have a dedicated staff, but you should always have an up and comer or two around to keep the pros on their toes.

Green peas are a necessity (and yes, I realize I shouldn’t be calling them that, but it is the vernacular in which they are known. The audience this blog is being written for is exactly the people that still only refer to them as green peas.)

A quick tale about me as a green pea:

I remember I was assigned a veteran I was to “shadow” on my first day in the industry. He wasn’t pleased. He walked me out on the lot and dumped negativity on me about the industry, my greenness, and his lot in life. After his 10-minute (very) antagonistic diatribe on day one on how I should quit immediately, he ended his lesson (word used loosely) with “Now you don’t talk to me for the next 6 months. That’s the rule. And if you’re still here after that, maybe we can be friends”. By month six, I had outsold him. We did not become friends.

How I never drowned as a green pea I have no idea. Seven of us were hired within the same week at this dealership. Only two of the seven of us are still in the industry. (The other, my great friend Tony Esposito, is now a Performance Manager at vAuto). He and one other that was hired are still some of my best friends to this day, but we were not set up to swim. We were set up to sink. Huddled together like a life raft, we persevered long enough to stay afloat and learned to swim ourselves.

There were too many of us green peas for management to keep track of at that time. They flooded the water with green peas. A lot of good people drowned, and drowned quickly. The dealership couldn’t have benefited from this.

Take it upon yourself to train and support the green peas in your organization, but please don’t bring more into the water than you can keep an eye on. Hiring several with the goal of “ending up with one good one” is destroying our industry’s reputation and hurting your bottom line. Or disregard this message, and flood your floor with green peas. If that is your plan, please add this simple warning into your hiring ads: “Swim at your own risk.”


Automotive trainer and consultant. I'm also a writer, speaker, movie buff, and Dad. --President of DealerKnows--