Recruiting Violations

Dealers must let go of outdated recruiting methods to attract and hire qualified, motivated individuals.

May 2014, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by Jason Heard

Technology advanced vehicles give technically proficient sales consultants an edge. Dealers have begun recruiting salespeople from the consumer electronics industry, which requires skill set and similar work hours. 
Technology advanced vehicles give technically proficient sales consultants an edge. Dealers have begun recruiting salespeople from the consumer electronics industry, which requires skill set and similar work hours. 
Help! Selling season is here and we have more customers than we can handle! We offer better-than-average compensation, great management support, a guaranteed day and a half off per week, 401(k) and health insurance. In-person applicants only. Interviews will be held Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at ABC Motors.

Does this sound familiar? This is the time of year when most dealers need more staff, and they need them now. When time is short, panic sets in. So somebody types up the old, reliable classified ad and places it in the local papers and on job sites. Meanwhile, a manager calls a competing dealer, asks the receptionist for their top salesperson, then tries to steal them away.

There’s a reason dealers continue to use the same old recruiting methods: At times, they work. Job hunters do read classified ads, and a wave of new applicants walking across the show floor will help keep your current salespeople focused. Poaching a strong salesperson from your competitor brings proven success and a new customer base. But many dealers have learned that the best candidates may not be searching Craigslist or even racking up sales for your competitor. They may be working in another industry and unwittingly picking up skills that will lead to a successful career in auto retail.

Today’s sales consultants must be comfortable with technology, they must be focused and disciplined in every phase of their job, and they must be good communicators. Let’s take a closer look at each of those skill sets and the industries that promote them.

1. Technically Proficient
Think of all the technology packed into today’s vehicles: navigation, mobile device and Bluetooth connectivity, back-up cameras, parking assist, adaptive cruise control … the list goes on and on. In response, dealers have begun hiring from the ranks of cell phone and electronics store employees. If you visit the AT&T store and you have a good experience with a manager or staff member, hand them your card. You will have recruited an applicant who enjoys talking with customers and helping them understand technology. They also tend to work similar hours.

2. Discipline
A great deal of a new salesperson’s success depends upon their ability to complete tasks and stick to an established process. If you are located anywhere near a military base, you already know where I’m going with this. Many dealers rely on former soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to fill open positions throughout their operations. If you’re just getting started, seek out the officer or officers who assist service members with the transition to civilian life. They will be glad to hear from you, and they can recommend candidates for sales, F&I, service, office staff and more.

3. Good Communicators
To find good listeners, look no further than the folks at your favorite restaurants. Just think about the variety of people and personalities a waiter or waitress handles in the course of a shift. Skilled servers know that different customers want different things out of their dining experience. They keep track of multiple orders and handle unexpected demands. And they handle it all with politeness and grace, because their pay depends on it.

These are but a few examples of people who work outside our industry. You come into contact with them almost every day. Look for special people who handle themselves with competence and professionalism. Introduce yourself and ask if they have time to chat. Introduce them to the prospect of a career change and invite them to visit your dealership. It could be a very prosperous move for both parties.

The bottom line is that, just as in sales, recruiting is a numbers game. Even if you only approach a few people a month, you will be doing your part to keep yourself from getting understaffed. And if you’re committed, you may be able to find a diamond in the rough. Best of luck!

Jason Heard is the general sales manager at Frank Ancona Honda in Olathe, Kan. He is a 20-year industry veteran with extensive sales and sales management experience.


  1. 1. Timothy "The Motor-Vator" [ May 28, 2014 @ 03:50PM ]

    I totally agree with dealerships, wanting & needing technology capable sales people, looking for that diamond in the rough & recruiting being numbers game is not the right & effective approach. This industry is not a game & neither is a person's career wanting & needed to provide for their family. I've been in the automotive industry for over 21 years, I've seen dealerships hire sales staff with no experience, then offer little to no training & expect a salesperson to accomplish sales on an avg. of 90 days. It doesn't work like that. if YOU WANT TO FIND THAT DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH, "POLISH THEM"! You have to have some type of ongoing sales training, motivation, & education in place for the new employees to be more effective in the days, weeks & months years to come. I have trained & motivated many salesman throughout the years & all of them were greatly appreciative of the extensive knowledge & wisdom I gave them. Training must be done everyday just like bathing & eating if you do both you will smell better & live longer! Salesman are not born their made & I have made many in my years of selling & training. Managing salespeople is not a delegating of task it's, it's a development of people. They must have the self-confidence to be able to handle today's customer. If you motivate the employee with sales ads offering great pay & benefits & do not educate you will in turn have a motivated idiot. You will constantly have that revolving door, & always looking for that diamond in the rough, but if you train, educate, motivate, inspire & awaken the giant within them, you will have more repeat & referrals on a regular basis, people buy from who they trust & like, & will follow that person wherever they go. If they stay loyal to your company, your customers will stay loyal to your company.


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