All businesses are always faced with the challenge of finding great people, training them and then keeping them. The challenges for auto dealers are even more complex.
Finding motivated people that have a strong work ethic and people skills has never been more challenging. Car dealers complain about a lot of things likes shrinking margins, manufacturer pressure, building upgrade requirements, keeping up with technology, but there is none greater than, “where can I find great people?”
Here are a few tips for finding great salespeople:
- Quit settling for average. Most dealers have given up on looking for great people believing there are none. Decide you are going to find great people not average and you will start seeing them.
- Have talent targets. Give managers a quota for bringing in talent. I am not talking about running an ad or hiring clinic. Simply make your mid-management team responsible for finding talent.
- Quit saying no to experienced people. I know dealers that that will not hire experienced salespeople believing you can train people ‘your’ way. Everyone has bad habits and it’s ridiculous to exclude experienced salespeople assuming they all have bad habits. Your first attempt to should be to steal experienced motivated salespeople that know how to professionally sell automobiles.
- Train People – The number one reason managers don’t hire people is because they don’t train people. Managers that don’t have a training program refuse to hire new people knowing that person will not last. You aren’t going to jump out of a plane without a parachute.
And let’s face it if you don’t train they will leave and the cycle continues. The cost nationwide to replace a $10 an hour employee is $3328. A study on the cost to replace an employee done by Deloitte outlined factors a business should consider in calculating the real cost of turn over.
- The cost of hiring a new employee – advertising, interviewing, screening, and hiring.
- Cost of onboarding -new people have to be orientated before they are trained.
- Lost productivity – you will lose any chance of repeats/referrals.
- Lost engagement -other employees who see high turnover tend to disengage and lose productivity.
- Cultural & Customer Effect – Who should your customers ask for?
JDPower’s industry white paper done in 2013 suggests the cost of turnover at $11,000 per employee in an industry with a 200-220% turnover including all departments.
With the advent of web-based training, I can now train the average automobile dealership for less $80 per person. That includes service people, sales, management, and admin people. Without ever leaving the dealership or missing a customer, we can deliver to smartphones, tablets and wherever a computer is with full testing, reporting and accountability on every topic confronting your dealership from orientation to closing a deal and follow up. The average car dealer is spending 300-400 per car and then giving products away.
Your product and your dealership can only influence the buyer so much. Either they hire great people and train them, or continue to turn them over while they give your products away.
The customer will pay more for a great attitude from your staff than they will the automobile itself. The only thing that ultimately differentiates your dealership is the way your people talk on the phone, in person and how they follow up.
This is still the people business before it is the car business. Whether you are selling parts, service or the car itself, whether you are a one price dealership or traditional negotiating store, people buy from people before they buy cars.
Also, consider that 90% of your customers are spending over 9 hours on the Internet and are still unable to make a decision until they connect with a human being.
Your customer is looking for more than just the right color and the best price. They want to be treated professionally and by people with a great attitude. Best price matters but it’s not the only thing that matters to most of your customers.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you looking for great people?
- Do your managers seek out new people?
- Do you motivate your people every day to be the best they can be?
- Do you train people to be the best in the market?
When looking for great people you should look for attitude and willingness before anything else. Most everyone agrees that attitude has a significant influence on whether your customer will do business with your dealership.
The first thing I look for when hiring someone is a willingness attitude – the willingness to do whatever is necessary with a smile on your face and in your voice. If you have even a hint of entitlement I am not hiring you no matter the talent. Willingness may be the one thing you can’t teach an individual.
Before you hire someone the FIRST thing to evaluate is attitude. Are they willing? Are they hungry? Are they appreciative? Do they want to work every day? Ask them, “how do you feel about work?” If they don’t know or they aren’t sure, you should know not to hire them. Ask them, “are you willing to pick up trash on the lot?” If they aren’t, then don’t hire them because whether you are a salesman, finance manager, a mechanic clean or the dealer, you must be willing to pick up.
When testing for attitude, try this quick test. In the interview, I am going to ask you to demonstrate a few things to me. Show me don’t tell me.
- Show me a great attitude.
- Show me your best smile.
- Show me how you would handle a disgruntled buyer.
- Show me how you respond to picking up the trash.
Part of hiring great people is not settling for average people. There are more average people looking for work than there are great people but that doesn’t mean there are not great people.
Then look for all the other obvious things. Are they reliable? Can they show up on time? Can they be held accountable? Can they be managed? Do they clean up behind themselves? In my world, 15 minutes early is on time and on time is late and I always look at their car. If you can’t keep your own car clean, then you probably won’t keep my offices clean.
Finding great people means you have to believe they exist and then have to set out to find them. Let the other car dealers throw in the towel and believe there aren’t any good people out there.
Once you get them, push them to be great. Train them and create an environment where they can earn more than others and have more esteem for what they do.
When you find a great salesperson pay them so much they will be scared to leave. Great people don’t cost money, missing opportunities in fixed and variable sales cost money.
I run companies the same way you do! Every department must make money but if the people aren’t doing well the company won’t.
If you want to stop costly turnover, then you have to start training your people. The only organizations where training does not work are places where it is not done often enough. Look outside of automotive to see what kind of training works. Look to athletes and military for examples of training. Training includes instruction, physical skills, memory drills, reenactments, situational drills, testing and reviewing the video. The applicants are buried in training activities. When training doesn’t work in car dealerships it’s usually either is not done at all or done as punishment for poor performance.
Quit knee-jerking your training and quit teaching experienced people entry-level skills. I would spend more time and energy training on your top people than those at the bottom.
Technological advances enable training to be delivered in many forms today. No matter how the sales training is delivered; onsite, offsite, online or in the classroom, the number one reason sales training fails, is due to a lack of frequency. If you want ROI on your sales training, you must do it every day, even multiple times per day. Use this one criterion for building your sales training solution.
For 30 years, I have been customizing training programs for sales training organizations from automobile dealers, to manufacturers, Fortune 500 financial companies, software companies, and even the United States Army. Do you think selling a car is tough? Imagine selling a 17 year-old-kid and their parent on spending a couple of years in another country carrying a gun. When I was working with the US Army a recruiter told me, “anything worth doing is worth doing every day.” If your people don’t train every day, they won’t get results that are significant enough to stay with it.
When any training doesn’t stick it becomes another failed initiative, not to mention a waste of time and money. It damages the management’s credibility to implement future programs. Start your sales training criteria daily and it will guide you to the perfect solution.
When daily training is set as the single criteria for a successful sales training program, it will make you think in terms of how to develop it. If it’s going to be used every day then it must be 1) easily available, 2) individualized to different needs and personalities, 3) quick so as not to take too much time, 4) engaging to the audience and a bonus would be 5) that it could solve problems in real-time.
Whether you pick my sales training platform www.cardoneondemand.com or Brian, Tom, Jeff, Joe, Alan or someone on your staff to do it, just make sure you get the key points handled and it will be successful.
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Grant Cardone is an international business and sales expert. He has authored 4 business books and customized sales training programs for Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, success-minded individuals and entrepreneurs.