Job Co-op Automotive sales director Derek Webb explains how dealers can improve their recruitment techniques and move beyond sales targets to hire the best people
Why do you see opportunities for improvement in motor industry recruitment?
There’s a need for order and structure in the recruitment process, but once head office has authorised recruitment and you begin dealing with dealer principals or department managers, it loses consistency.
To them, recruitment is a nuisance and there’s still a lack of confidence or inability to formulate a decision without speaking to the interviewee’s old managers. With help, head offices can investigate what individual dealerships are doing in recruitment at any point and manage it with controls in place that allow the dealer principals to get on with their jobs.
Is the interview an effective recruitment tool?
If more dealerships took recruitment seriously and trained their managers to interview properly, they would be able to find the right person much more effectively. If they’ve got a CV showing they’ve done the job for someone else for five years you can be confident they can do it. You must recruit based on whether you can engage with them and you can see their attitude and eloquence. Too often, sales managers just want to know how many cars they can sell in a month. We’ve had occasions where people have been interviewed by managers in this industry and they’ve been made to sing or to do impressions of a chicken, to see if they’ll do as they’re told.
What best practice have you identified in the motor retail companies you work with?
I see best practice in businesses where the interview process is organised and they’ve allowed enough time for considering CVs and for seeing the candidates, with no interruptions. The best groups know recruitment will be a cost and they budget for it. Some dealer groups now have sophisticated career and people development sections within their websites to help meet their needs.
Have you seen any changes in recruitment since the recession?
Aftersales has become crucial, so demand for technicians and MoT testers is massive. Their salaries have risen because of demand. Competition from the aftermarket means franchised dealerships have to be a bit sharper, smarter and fight for better people. The job of the service adviser has also become more important, more concerned with additional sales and earning commission. We’ve seen dealerships asking us for people who’ve worked in selling white goods, PCs or mobile phones, because they have selling skills and technical understanding.
What other tools can improve dealer recruitment?
I’m a believer in psychometric profiling and I can see the merit of assessment days in allowing employers to see how people interact. With interviews, ask how they find their customers, how do they prospect, how do they measure their conversions. Do they understand how many people they’ll need to see to sell enough cars?
What issues do dealers’ sales departments need to tackle?
Often, recruits last about a year and I genuinely believe that’s down to the managers, not the recruits. If you’re employing someone with a personality that enables them to engage with people and there are cars in the showroom to sell, if they’re not selling successfully it’s a training issue. I don’t think it’s even sales training, it’s training in prospecting and how they create and maintain their own prospect list. Unfortunately, training in some dealerships for new recruits consists of “there’s your desk, there’s your phone, there’s your computer”. The induction is not what it should be.