People are the engine that makes the dealership run. Finding and hiring the right people, those who are motivated and customer-focused, is a critical element to the success of every dealership today.

When consulting dealers about the hiring process, I always remind them that they are going to do one of two things: either they are going to focus on hiring a person who is going to add to the passion of their dealership, or they are not.

When employers hire, they often do not put enough emphasis on building a team of really passionate people. Instead, they focus on hiring people with the right qualifications at the right price. It’s an easy trap to fall into because it’s an easier way to hire. Let’s face it: When the season is underway and you’re overloaded with work, you’re just hoping to find a warm body that shows up on time and leaves without stealing. Unfortunately, hiring a warm body often results in high turnover, unhappy employees and low productivity.


The problem with hiring the right people is that it takes a lot longer, but the payoff is enormous. Keep in mind that in your dealership, your employees are practically your business partners. You need them to stick it out through the ups and down of the business. They are the ones who create the attitudes for your future hires. They are the ones you need to evangelize your business to all those they meet. They become the driving force for your success.

All managers should do some planning before they place an ad and begin interviewing. When you do your own planning, your goal is to understand three things about yourself.

1. What’s your working style? 

Take a moment and think about your working style and the type of people with whom you work the best.

  • Are you a hands-on manager or do you want people who will work independently?
  • Do you want people who will report to you in a formal meeting or are you more comfortable getting your information from general conversations during the day?
  • Will this employee work directly with you or with another manager? If the employee will be working with another manager, does that manager’s style differ from yours? 

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Remember, take note of the people who have worked for you in the past and didn’t work out. The reasons they weren’t successful at your dealership could vary from personality styles to levels of training. Whatever the reasons, take stock of why and don’t hire similar people, regardless of their skill. If they didn’t work out in the past, they aren’t going to work out in the future.

2. What’s your company’s culture?

Give serious thought to the culture of your dealership and how you expect your employees to function in your environment.

  • Do you expect employees to work evenings, weekends or holidays?
  • Do you expect employees to dress casually or to wear uniforms?
  • Are employees expected to participate in company social functions?
  • Are they encouraged to develop friendships with co-workers, or is social activity reserved for outside of the dealership?

3. What are your expectations of this job position? 

It’s critical that you clearly define what you expect of this person and include those expectations in a job description. As you craft job descriptions for each position, it is important to remember that the job description is the minimum requirement for an employee to keep their job, not the maximum that they need to do. By making this clear at the beginning of the hiring process, it can help eliminate additional headaches that might pop up along the way.

It is also important for you to have a clear understanding of the numbers that the new hire needs to generate for them to be viable in your company. Take time to calculate what an employee needs to generate for your business each year, month, week and day. If they are a tech, look at the billable time. If they are a parts counter support, look at the amount of parts they need to sell to make the dealership a profit.

Think about the hiring time frame. How long will you accept candidates? What days or week will you conduct interviews? When will you make a hiring decision? Who on your team will be involved in the hiring process and in what ways will they be involved? It is important to make sure that everyone involved is able to take time out of their schedule to make the hiring process a priority. Having a clear timeline also gives you the ability to communicate effectively with the candidates in regard to what the hiring process will look like on their end.

Will you have your candidates do any testing? It’s important to consider having your candidates take a personality assessment, aptitude or skill testing, and/or a writing analysis to truly gauge if they are a good fit for your team. Plus, you may want to consider background checks and drug testing, making sure that you are staying within your local regulations.

Read the next installment: Hiring the Right People Part 2: Where to Find Employees