CALL US AT 1.866.756.2620



Joe Basil

Print this Post

“We can’t seem to hire the right people.” Sound familiar?


How many times have you heard this from dealers, managers, and business owners? How many times has it been on the 20 Group agenda topic list?

Hearing this statement so often, one would think that it is a priority in every business and car dealership to have a process and system in place to identify, select, and hire “the right people.” So what is it that keeps so many dealers and managers from learning the skill set or even recognizing the fact that they lack the skills?

Let’s start with how most dealers grew up in the car business. The majority of them came up through the sales or front end of the business. The front end is a very people-oriented area of the business. Anyone with experience in that department has probably hired and trained hundreds of people. When you examine training strategies and concentrations in the front of the store you will typically find the overwhelming amount of time and money is spent on sales process, sales desk deal management, F&I process, closing techniques, word tracks and other productivity focused skill sets, often times, without determining if you are training “the right person.”

If you were to ask dealers how much training time and money they invest in teaching those employees with recruiting, selecting and hiring responsibility how to identify and select “the right people,” some wouldn’t know what you were talking about.  Others, who have invested the time and money to develop selection skill sets and processes, would know exactly what you are talking about. For those that don’t understand this approach, they don’t even realize that they may be investing training dollars and time in the wrong people to start with.

Let me give an example. I’m sitting with a dealer who says “I can’t seem to hire the right people.” I ask him to explain his hiring process and who has responsibility for hiring decisions. The first step in the store’s process is an initial interview by one of three front-end managers, then a secondary interview by one of the other two managers and/or the dealer. I ask, “Who has final authority for the hiring decision?” He explains that it goes back to the manager who conducted the initial interview. So I ask the dealer to give me his description of the “right” salesperson. He responds, “They have to be energetic self-starters with good people skills who set goals and achieve them; a good closer, good grosser and they have to be a team player.” Next, I ask permission to ask the three front-end managers the same question. Here’s what I found…

Manager number one described the right salesperson as someone who is organized, punctual, follows procedure, and covers all the details.

Manager number two described the right salesperson as someone who can gross, close deals, sell cars and build a book of business.

Manager number three described the right salesperson as someone who is friendly with customers, always takes care of their needs, never has customer complaints, and has strong customer satisfaction.

So, based on four different descriptions of the right person, it’s no wonder this dealer can’t hire the right people. One manager would hire a “neat nick,” the next manger would hire a “slammer” and the last one would hire a “consumer advocate”—and no one would hire the dealer’s sales person!

Patterns indicate that most people with hiring authority tend to hire people that match their own description of the right person as opposed to hiring a person with skill sets proven to result in developing a “top performer” in their position. So how do you learn to identify “top-performing” skill sets?

One simple answer may be right in front of you. Make a list of your best salespeople, not your top salesperson, your best salespeople. Now jointly, along with those people with hiring authority, describe the personality traits, tendencies, habits, preferences, skill sets and accomplishments of your “best” salespeople. Assuming you have top-performing salespeople, you should begin to see a pattern. For a point of reference you could perform the same exercise on your “worst” salespeople.

From my experience the most effective approach to implementing a recruiting, selecting and hiring process is to hire a professional trainer or consultant. Going back to my earlier point about determining if you are training the right person, you may first want to have your management team evaluated to confirm that you are training the right people to start with.

Should you have any hesitation about investing in a process to improve your selection skills, let me conclude with the following question:

Between the date you hired them and the date you fired them, what did you discover about them that you didn’t know when you interviewed them? And how much did it cost you? This should be a no-brainer!

Want to learn more about hiring? Attend the NCM Institute’s new course: Finding Top Talent. Click here for details. 


About the author

Joe Basil

Joe Basil

An NCM 20 Group member for 10 years, Joe now serves his former peers as an NCM Executive Conference Moderator. With 40 years of retail automotive and general business experience, Joe began his career at age 14 progressing through a variety of positions in his father’s dealership in Buffalo, New York, eventually becoming the used car manager for the Chevrolet store. At 26, Joe became the owner-operator of an Oldsmobile dealership. As the oldest of seven, he has bought and sold three dealerships of his own, ventured into several non-automotive businesses, including business consulting and training. During his career with the Basil Group, Joe assisted in the purchase, sale and start-up of over 24 dealership transactions and five non-automotive businesses. Joe is a graduate of Northwood University with a degree in automotive marketing and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Canisius College. Joe is a graduate of the Chevrolet Management School and has completed formal training in family business advising and entrepreneurial leadership.

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 + = two