Recruiting Is Selling

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Justin Spath - Also by this author

Think back to the last time you had a position open at your dealership. Ask yourself if you did all you could to recruit the best person? The answer is probably, “No.” In fact, if you did what most employers in any industry usually do, you didn’t actually recruit at all. Most likely what you did was advertise, which is only one component of recruiting.
The difference between advertising and recruiting is evidenced every day at your dealership. Dealers use every form of advertising – television, radio, billboards, the Internet and even entire sections in their local paper devoted to automotive advertising. All that advertising is the only thing necessary to keep the sales going, right?

Not likely. Advertising only brings in one section of your possible customer base; those who are already looking for a car. Successful sales people know that’s not enough. You have to find ways to bring in people who aren’t already actively seeking a new car.
An employment ad, whether it be in the newspaper or online, works the same way. It will draw some candidates, but only the ones who are already looking. It will miss all of those who are not actively seeking new employment. Advertising is a part of the recruitment process, but it is not the entire process.

Realize that recruiting is a sales process. There is a customer (the job candidate) and a product (the open position). The recruiter’s duty is to match the two together in the best possible way, similar to what a sales person does with a customer and a vehicle. So, how do you recruit people for your dealership? By following a similar sales process to what you use to sell a car.

1) Develop Your Customer Base.

Your customer base is the pool of candidates you are going to draw from. Advertising will bring you some. A few will be internal candidates; however the majority of your candidates will come from your active recruiting. The most effective method of finding job candidates, and the one I recommend the most, is referrals. Individuals who are familiar with your dealership are best referrers. Start asking all of your current employees who they know that would be a good fit for the job.

Note what I said in that last sentence. I did not say to ask if they knew anyone for it, but rather said to ask who they know. Sales do not happen because you got a “maybe.” Sales happen because you got a name. Contact every person who was suggested to you because even if they aren’t interested now, they may be interested later. It wouldn’t be the first time a delayed sale was made.

While referrals will likely yield the best results, don’t forget to use other sourcing techniques as well. Do not be afraid to cold call people who are already doing the job you need to fill. Tell your neighbors, your friends, your family, even people on the street. Pass out business cards anytime you can. Any method you might use to find customers can be applied to recruiting.

2) Sell Your Product.

Now that you’ve developed a list of names, contact them and sell your product; the dealership and the job. Call them, explain how you got their name, tell them why you’re calling and give them your “elevator pitch.” For those who might not know what an elevator pitch is, it is essentially a short speech that presents all of the best features of your product in such a way that the person wants to know more about it. If you were selling a car, you’d be trying to convince the customer to come and visit the store. In recruiting, you are convincing the person to come in for an interview. Your pitch, given over the phone, might be something like this:

Jane Smith? This is Justin Spath with the ABC Motors. Mary Johnson thought that you might be interested in a position we have open. Mary was telling me how much clerical experience you have, and it sounded like you might be a fit for our company. I’m sure she’s told you about what it’s like to work here with our wellness program, medical and dental insurance, daycare credits, and discounts on automotive service. I was wondering if you might have some free time in the next couple days to come in and talk to me about the opportunities we have.

3) Match the Customer to the Product.

Now that you’ve got the candidate to the dealership, your job is to see if they are a good match for the job opening. This is the interview. Think of this as if you’re working the numbers to see if they can get the car they want. You’re talking with their bank, checking their credit rating and verifying they can make the payments.

Of course in recruiting, their “payments” are not in terms of money but rather in terms of work history, education, technical training and occupational references. Your goal is to see if you can do business with them.

If they can not afford the car they want, think about what they might be able to afford. In other words, if they don’t match up with the position you have open, think about where they might fit in. Keep them in mind for that position if it were to ever come open. Remember, just because they are not a customer now does not mean they won’t ever be.

4) Hand Them the Keys.

If you have developed your candidate pool, brought the candidates in, compared the results of your interviews and found the best person, then hand over the keys. Once you have found the person you want, don’t hesitate any longer than absolutely necessary. Remember this is a sale. If you don’t get them as a customer, or in this case employee, your competitor will.

While the reality of recruiting is not necessarily this quick and easy, the ideas behind it are sound. Viewing recruiting and hiring practices as a sales function can give you a better understanding of what is necessary to find and hire the best people for your dealership. It will take time and effort to learn how to adopt this style of recruiting and to make it live up to its potential. However, the best employees are just like the best customers; it takes some hard work to find them, but the results are definitely worth it.

Vol 3, Issue 3

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