Today’s business environment requires you to focus on seeking, attracting, training and retaining the best sales and F&I professionals. If you aren’t having any luck finding new talent, here are four new and effective strategies you can try today:

1. Fish in a New Pond.

When it’s time to hire a new associate, most dealers turn to the same resources as their competitors; namely, their competitors. But poaching from other dealerships typically brings forth the least worthy prospects. Let’s face it, most of the top candidates are not looking for a job. They already have one!

Proactive dealers and managers are handing out business cards to exceptional people they meet in the hospitality business, including hotel workers and restaurant servers. A wise man once told me you can train someone to be professional, but it is difficult to train someone to be friendly.

I realize that training someone who is new to the business can be time-consuming. But if it’s the right person, it’s worth it.

2. Prescreen Every Applicant.

Study after study tells us that past behavior drives future performance. Remember, people will act their best during their interview. You have no doubt been fooled in the past. That’s why prescreening is an indispensable part of the hiring process.

Your managers must follow a checklist, and that checklist should include a predictive analytics questionnaire. I recently met with an executive at a large dealer group and asked whether they utilize such a questionnaire. “Yes, we have something like that in place,” he said. “But most candidates fill it out after they have been hired.” Too late!

At the very least, set up a prescreening phone interview for every applicant. Give them a specific time to call you and see if they do. Play the role of a complaining customer and see how they handle it. Future top performers will invariably demonstrate good communication skills, creativity, and the ability to think on their feet.

3. Take a Team Approach.

It is not uncommon for dealership personnel to get hired based on a single interview with one manager. If two heads are better than one, in hiring, three are better than two.

I once interviewed a candidate, who, for some reason, had a quality that did not sit well with me. The other two managers who met him wanted to offer him the job. I objected. We settled on another applicant and referred the first candidate to our sister store. He was hired and stayed there for several productive years. We later became friends and he is still in the business.

Was I wrong? Maybe. But the applicant all three of us liked turned out to be a top performer as well. Better to let turn down the occasional good candidate than to hire the first person one manager likes.

4. Hire Based on Achievement, Not Experience.

When you are sorting your applications, candidates with real accomplishments should be at the top of the pile. I don’t care how long they have worked in the industry or at a particular dealership. What have they actually achieved?

Hiring experts recommend reading résumés from the top down, focusing on the first word of each paragraph. Look for action words like “led,” “increased,” “generated,” or “collaborated.”

Finally, I will leave you with this: If you knew you could not fire the next person you hire, would you change your approach? Choose your next employee wisely. Good luck!

Tony Troussov CSP is the director of training for Automotive Development Group (ADG). He is an auto retail and finance veteran, a nationally recognized trainer, and a frequent speaker at industry events. Contact him at [email protected].

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Tony Troussov

Director of Training

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