When it comes to millennials, there’s no shortage of opinions. Common stereotypes used to describe this generation include everything from “lazy” to “entitled” to “narcissistic,” and the list goes on. With a pile of negative opinions stacking up against them, it’s easy to see why employers might be hesitant to hire these newcomers to the job market, but that’s not the case for Todd Crossley, President of Gary Crossley Ford. In fact, he’s seeking out millennial professionals for his dealership, saying that, “Millennials are an intelligent generation, they don’t mind working hard if they get what they want from it, and they become very tied to what they are doing.”
To Todd Crossley, millennials are an untapped powerhouse in today’s market. He’s noted their eagerness to learn and their enthusiasm for growing their careers, and he’s taking full advantage of the positive aspects this generation is bringing to his dealership.
Crossley is no stranger to the automotive industry and the hard work it takes to achieve success and thrive in a competitive market. He grew up in the automotive world and began his career cleaning cars at a dealership in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2011, he became full owner of his dealership after buying out his father, which gave him an entirely different perspective of the business. Armed with new insights regarding in-depth dealership operations, he began to see how younger generations could truly make a difference in keeping the automotive industry alive and thriving. Not only can millennials bring new viewpoints and knowledge, they also have the unique ability to connect with younger consumers in a way that no one else can.
A Valuable Generation
According to Crossley, millennials grew up at the perfect time, because they were able to witness several things that have shaped their world views, and in turn, the ways in which they react to each other, to businesses, and to marketplace trends.
To start, this generation has seen a fairly major economic collapse; they saw the generation before them slowly crumble in front of their eyes. Once Gen X graduated college, millennials watched them move back home with their parents as they struggled to find work. Essentially, the parents of millennials struggled with money and fell on hard times, and this was enough to scare millennials into being more responsible with their money and their lives in general. Millennials know they do not want to repeat the experiences of the previous generation.
Additionally, millennials have grown up in a truly global world, with a greater awareness of global issues, as well as a feeling of responsibility for maintaining and restoring the environment. They’re part of the first truly digital generation, and they’re accustomed to seamless communication across a variety of platforms.
All the things that make millennials unique may not seem to affect businesses—and dealerships, specifically—until employers take a look at the impact this generation can have on the workforce. As young professionals, millennials are looking for careers that help them make a difference, learn and advance quickly, and earn increasing levels of responsibility.
Todd Crossley is leaning into the positive aspects of millennial employees and putting them to work to help him stay connected, build relationships with younger shoppers, and implement creative strategies throughout his dealership. He already knows the stereotypes generated about this generation are misconceptions, nothing more than quick judgements reached by a few who don’t understand where these younger consumers and professionals are coming from. Instead of buying into those notions, he’s leveraging the positive momentum generated by this generation’s eagerness—and it’s benefitting his dealership.
Are Millennials Entitled?
Entitlement seems to be the number one complaint about this generation, but Crossley says, “It’s a misconception.” He goes on to explain the sense people get about millennials is actually related to their need for instant gratification, which is ingrained in them from birth. They were born in the age of technology, an age in which things have always been available at the touch of a button or the flip of a switch, and this has taught millennials to expect near-instant responses. So, instead of a sense of entitlement, it’s potentially a case of expecting things to be extremely efficient. And in the dealership world, improved efficiency leads to happier customers.
Millennials Demand Transparency
Along with their need for instant gratification is a need for transparency. Todd Crossley says, “Millennials are born with built-in bullshit filters. They grew up with 500 channels. They grew up with the internet and with every kind of marketing, so their systems have developed the ability to sort out all the crap.” The filter Todd talks about is part of every aspect of their lives, so when they go to work or start a new job, they can sense when colleagues or bosses aren’t being upfront. And you can be sure a lack of transparency immediately leaves them disengaged and causes their work to suffer—in the end, sending them right back to look for another job. “That’s why,” says Crossley, “at our dealership, transparency is highly regarded, allowing millennials to thrive.”
Dubbed “data dumpers” by Crossley, millennials are constantly bombarded with information from every direction and have developed the ability to quickly discern what is important and what is not. When they determine information is unimportant, they immediately dump it, completely erasing it from their memories. This, again, is a result of having access to an excess of media, online platforms, and being continuously plugged in. This generation is constantly bombarded with information, and they’ve become accustomed to sifting through it all and filtering out only what’s important.
With a population of over 75 million, millennials make up the largest generation in the United States, and Todd Crossley believes they have the ability to change the world for the better. He says, “This is the first generation that genuinely doesn’t care; they don’t care who you marry, they don’t care what color you are, or where you grew up. They care about who you are as a person.” Right now, we’re only a couple years away from millennials making up the majority of the workforce, and that means it’s important for employers to take time out to understand what makes them tick, as well as realize the positive impact they can make when it comes to reaching younger customers and leveraging the power of new technology.
Just ask Todd Crossley; he’ll tell you Gary Crossley Ford is thriving with a strong team of multi-generational professionals who all work closely together and share their ideas, innovate, and drive toward a strong future where every employee is valued for their commitment and contributions to the dealership.
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