Find, Train, Retain

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The right mindset and attitude are critical when it comes to new hires. PHOTO Shutterstock

Effective recruitment requires a long-term strategy for both the business and its staff.

As they say, different times call for different recruitment strategies. Currently many automotive retailers are facing a whole host of challenges at the same time. From inventory shortages to rising inflation, energy concerns, and staffing, there are a lot of factors to consider.

As far as the latter is concerned, the last two years have seen profound change. Many dealers were forced to cut back their staff due to lockdowns, while other employees chose to leave the profession and pursue other opportunities.

Essential for success

Now, with the economy opening up again, finding good people is becoming essential for business success, yet the way dealers approach recruitment needs careful consideration in order to attract the right talent.

Jeff White, of Jeff White Dealership Training, says with smaller staff numbers and overlap in roles at the dealership, job requirements have changed and with them both the skills required and also mindset for the role.

White explains that a critical aspect of successful recruitment today comes down to communication. “Managers need the ability to use a handheld device to communicate effectively with potential hires,” says White. “Today, this is a skill that most in our industry rarely think about. If you can’t do that, you’re essentially a dinosaur.”

On the flip side, even if you’re able to successfully use handheld devices and as a management team you are active and successful at multiple forms of communication, including text, email, and social media, the actual message you are sending is critical in attracting the right person.

The pandemic has left many people feeling isolated and especially for younger generations, White says the-one-to-one interaction aspect can sometimes prove challenging, since they have often been exposed to a retail environment like Amazon where there generally, is no person-to-person interaction.

Jeff White, Jeff White Dealership Training. PHOTO Jeff White

Traditional strategies no longer work

At DrivingSales, Jason Volny, National Sales Director, notes that traditional approaches to hiring salespeople, where you’d have a group of recruits and you weed through the numbers until just one or two are left, is not only ineffective but extremely costly.

Volny explains for any recruitment strategy to work effectively it needs to be a two-way street. Firstly, that the dealership management team can demonstrate a clear and concise career path and support for new hires, and secondly, those people they are looking to attract to their organization are willing to commit to it.

“When you have a process laid out and you attract people who are willing to learn and grow, you create a successful recruitment strategy each and every time.” Volny also states that in addition to this, removing some of the old stereotypes about what it means to be a salesperson or a product advisor is also key. “Instead, always try to focus on the consumer experience, and by doing so, you can shift the paradigm, enabling potential hires to see the business in a whole new light.”

Word of mouth

Susan Gubasta, President of Mississsauga Toyota, says that while there still needs to be greater awareness of the opportunities available in automotive retailing, she believes that ultimately, successful recruitment comes down to business reputation. “The best hires nearly always come via word of mouth,” Gubasta explains. “If your existing employees are happy, satisfied, and productive, they are more likely to share that in their social networks and more likely to recommend your business to others as a great place to work.”

Like Volny, Gubasta believes that fit and attitude are far more important than experience in the business. “We prefer to hire from outside the industry. We hire those with the right attitude and fit, and then we train the rest!”

Finding people who are open-minded, flexible and willing to grow from the outset, also provides dealers with a real opportunity to promote from within the organization, allowing staff to grow along with the business. “When you have people that are looking to grow and you can put the building blocks in place, they can align with the vision of the dealership which in turn provides them with the opportunity to elevate their game and by doing so creating success for themselves and the business,” explains Gubasta.

Mentorship strategies

While finding the right people is critical, once you have them engaged, dealers need to take steps to ensure they’ll stay. One way is by having an effective mentorship program in place. Jeff White says that a good way to do this is by having a mentor—a seasoned and highly successful professional in the dealership who is teamed up with a new hire. “Having them observe somebody experienced and very good at what they do, means your new hires pick up good habits, build their confidence and when the time comes, they can step up into success.” On the technology side, White also explains that teaming younger and more seasoned people together also provides an opportunity for them to learn from each other in both harnessing the power of technology as well as developing super effective communication skills. “By doing, so,” he says, “you create a winning situation for your team, for the dealership and the customer.”



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