Ask most any struggling businessperson if they’d swap their ailing organization for the unfettered growth that Dealertrack Inc. experienced in early 2012 and you’re likely to hear, every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
For companies like the auto retail software maker, the reality of exponential expansion can be a big pain — growing pain, that is. Nice problem to have or slippery slide into oblivion, the Lake Success, New York-based company faced failure unless they devised a plan to recruit, train and retain good people.
In 2013, Dealertrack’s predecessor Dealer.com formalized a partnership with Champlain College Online to develop an organizationwide leadership pipeline through the school’s truED alliance. Though the 1,200-employee Dealertrack was among the first to join truED, it didn’t take long for other high-profile companies including Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Keurig Green Mountain, Burton Snowboards and W.B. Mason to sign on.
Dealertrack management in large part were woefully unprepared to be good supervisors. Sure, they knew their coding, but their lack of managerial skills hampered Dealertrack’s future.
While the educational value is apparent, Dealertrack soon discovered they had a partner that went beyond mere transactional relationships. Champlain acted as a partner in workforce management strategy, consulting on closing skills gaps and searching for new ways to grow the company.
Several hundred Dealertrack employees have enrolled in the alliance to date, and that has paid dividends in several ways. After just a short time in the program, one staff member helped cut costs and improve efficiency after spotting redundant spending. Employees have taken on entirely new roles within the company after enrolling in the education program.
Company leaders contend the partnership aided in the Dealertrack acquisition in 2013 as well as the $4 billion all-cash blockbuster sale to Cox Enterprises in late 2015.
Such rapid growth and tumultuous changes in management are hard for any organization to cope with. Because of its alliance with Champlain College, Dealertrack is the 2016 Gold Award winner in Partnership.