The automotive industry has a sales department staffing problem – and a big one. In fact, NADA has placed the yearly turnover rate as high as 70 percent. Dealerships are in constant hiring mode to keep their sales floor staffed with enough employees to provide coverage for their floor traffic and to follow up with customers and prospects.
Since customer experience and loyalty depend upon employee loyalty, what can dealerships do to increase the chances of hiring the right person that transforms into a long-term employee and successful brand advocate?
For decades, dealerships have recruited new employees through the same old advertising messages and promises. $2,000/month guarantee, unlimited earning potential… blah, blah. Does this sounds familiar? The problem is that this kind of ad can easily attract exactly the type of prospects with the highest likelihood of NOT sticking around long… namely, those that are simply looking for a job to do while they look for one they actually want. Even in the rare circumstances that someone comes along with the ambition and goal of becoming a car salesperson (c’mon, how often does that really happen?), once they start and experience the long hours, grueling work, boring and repetitive tasks and constant rejection by customers as they follow up, they realize that they don’t really like selling cars and, ultimately, leave.
If the old ways of getting employees isn’t working – and clearly it’s not – then what is a better way?
The one thing most car dealerships excel at is marketing. Dealerships are laser-focused on what brings traffic into the dealership, how to market themselves and their vehicles and, ultimately, get those customers in the door to purchase and drive away in a new car. Then, afterwards, they will market to those sold customers to attract them to the service drive with the end goal of turning them into a loyal customer and brand advocate. It looks like this:
Market Cars –> Attract Customers –> Sell a car –> Market Service –> Service –> Create Loyal Customer
Pretty simple, right?
What if we took the same flowchart of activities that dealerships are great at and applied it to recruiting and hiring?
Start thinking about your job opening as a product. You’re trying to sell that job to a customer. To sell it to them, you must attract them to your dealership. By figuring out what those job hunters are looking for in your product (job) and MARKETING your product to prospective employees (customers), you can send a message that is both compelling and attractive to your audience of prospective employees.
Once you attract the right prospects and hire them, then continue to convince them that they should stick around by showing them that they are valued. Be flexible and compassionate and ensure that they know there is room to grow in the organization.
Accomplish that and you’ve created a long-term employee. The only thing left is to continue to make them feel welcomed and part of your organization. You will more than likely find that this person turns into someone who cares about their job, your dealership and becomes a brand advocate for you. This should reduce turnover with engaged employees who are fully invested in the success of your company. Employees who are happy and much more productive. And this combination will result in a better customer experience.
While this is only the first step in creating a loyal customer base, many would argue that it’s the most important. Regardless, by identifying the attributes that prospective salespeople seek from their employees and in their careers, and by ensuring that your dealership is marketing those to the right people and fulfilling those promises when they get hired, you should be well on your way to a more productive and content salesforce.