Changing Culture: A New Look at Recruiting

We have many challenges to deal with in the BHPH business such as: Competition from new car dealers, increase in inventory costs, decrease in capital sources, licensing requirements from our state laws, compliance requirements, etc. One of the hardest things to deal with though is the challenge of how to manage, grow and develop our two most important assets; 1. Our employees and 2. Our Customer Base (Portfolio).

I work with dealers and general managers on how to recognize talent within their organization, how to put the best talent in the right position, how to develop their skills in every department and how to eliminate the biggest de-motivators that leads to turnover. The only way to create a positive change is to have an ongoing recruiting program. An owner should never have to feel like they have to keep a negative person because you need a “warm body” for floor coverage or never have to feel held hostage by a negative “top producer.”

Recruiting should be the same philosophy as our approach to generating applications or customer leads. We don’t advertise or

market ourselves only when it is slow or when we run out of customers on a slow day. We always need a consistent advertising and marketing message that not only builds your dealership brand, but has direct “call to action” ads that lead to an Internet, phone or showroom opportunity. You should always be recruiting good people with good character, good habits (follow-up and prospecting) and good skills (phone and customer relationship development).

The good news about a down economy is there are great people looking for a new career that would never consider working in our industry two years ago (similar to our current new customers to us who bought a new car three years ago but now have tough credit).

This is a great opportunity to hire someone who has experience with customer service, developing a customer base, networking, prospecting, following up every customer lead and actually doing something productive almost every day! You won’t normally find these candidates from former new car dealerships (maybe 5 percent but they already have jobs), but you will find them from industries such as: investments, insurance, real estate, mortgage, rent-a-center, pay day loans, etc. There are many industries that have the needed skills that we seek without having to unlearn a customer purchase process that is OPPOSITE (new car sales) of the BHPH sales process.

I have run ad’s with success in Craigslist and received many

qualified leads for the following positions just by listing “CUSTOMER SERVICE” and not running a traditional dealership advertisement such as “SALES PERSON,” top compensation, demo, etc.

(**Compensation listed below will vary and will be in line with each region. Just remember, “You get what you pay for.”)

Branch Positions:

Sales Assistant – $10-12 per hour to do receptionist / verifier and other administration duties to support sales / underwriting department.:

Branch Assistant – $12-$17 per hour (depending previous pay). They do all the Administrative functions and tracking that a Sales Manager would do along with Daily 1 on 1 with Salespeople to review current appointments. They also confirm appointments, handle incoming phone calls, and communicate with Sr. Underwriter.:

Customer Service Rep – $25k-$40k per year (depending previous pay) to do the same functions of a Salesperson EXCEPT for Closing T.O situations (Down Payment Bump, Closing on Vehicle Selection, Closing on Worksheet Payment). These take much greater skill.

Sales Person / Credit Specialist – $35k-$60k+ All have same pay

plan, draw may be higher based on past performance, but they are expected to bring every customer through the whole sales process and follow-up their own customer base. A salesperson should be able to T.O other customers to close on down payment, Vehicle Selection and Worksheet (payment terms).

Team Leader – $40k-$70k+ Same pay plan as salespeople, draw may be higher base on past performance. Bonus for helping new Salespeople hit higher level by daily 1 on 1 coaching and Closing their customers. They are NOT managers; they maintain their own customer base and provide the daily 1 on 1 training that a sales manager would do. Depending on the structure of multiple locations, a team leader could also make underwriting decisions based on minimum underwriting criteria determined by collections manager and dealer.

Collector – $25k – $40k per year (depending previous pay). They would manage accounts for the finance company and develop an increased share of the portfolio.

For many owners, this is a whole philosophy and culture shift when moving towards this recruiting path. Just remember, “If you keep doing things the same way, you will keep getting the same results.” The football analogy would be, “we are not looking for a specific position player that would make us miss the most talented player available.” Hiring talent and character first (that doesn’t have bad habits from another dealership) is a step for a lot of dealers. Just like we want as many applications as possible

(400) even though we may limit the amount of money we lend each month (75). We know that by looking at 400 apps is always better than 100 if we want to lend 75. Another key to recruiting, is we also need to eliminate any words or things that would have a potential candidate “pre-qualify” our opportunity and dismiss it because they don’t understand who we are, what we do and that we are in the business of providing loans and not selling cars.

Steps to creating a successful ongoing recruiting program: 1. Create the momentum by generating good candidate resumes. 2. Phone interview the qualified candidates to weed out the ones we don’t want but also coordinate the in-person interviews to determine if this potential candidate will represent our organization for the future. You also need to create excitement in the opportunity to work for you. 3) Have a dynamic initial and ongoing training program for their position. 4) Have your training partner continue to support your team by being available for monthly, quarterly in dealership training along with ongoing video conference calls to discuss any organization issue. This will eliminate employee turnover and demotivation.

I look forward to working together on improving your team, growing your customer base and increasing net profits. Please don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions.