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.
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. [email protected]