It's common for a dealer to spend thousands of dollars a month to attract a few more “ups” to the showroom floors in today's highly competitive market.

Yet when it comes to hiring quality salespeople to take care of these customers, I've seen many managers struggle. It is not uncommon for a department to experience annual turnover of more than 100%.

Poor hiring is a high cost. Conservative estimates range from $28,000 to $65,000 per lost employee per year.

When you factor in supervisor time, damaged customer relations, and lowered morale, the true cost to your dealership could far exceed this amount.

Good hiring decisions will help you save money, increase sales, and maintain high CSI.

Try to avoid some of these more common interviewing and hiring errors:

  • “I'm a good judge of people.” Research suggests that if you go with your “gut” feelings, you may as well toss a coin. Have at least two other people interview the candidate using a standardized interview format. Listen to their opinions. By incorporating others in the interviewing and hiring process, you will minimize individual bias. Put your managers through hiring and selection training.

  • “If they can sell me they can sell anyone.” When selecting and interviewing a candidate for a sales position, expect that they will try to sell you.

    This does not mean that the candidate will take good care of your customers. If the candidate tells you that he or she can sell, have them present to you. At least this way you will be able to observe if they understand the fundamentals of feature/benefit selling.

  • “I will know the right person when I see him.” Make sure that you have a realistic job description that spells out the demands of the position.

    That allows you to focus your questions throughout the interview on the behaviors you want to measure, rather than the behaviors the candidate wants to show.

  • “She was the best of the bunch.” When you have multiple candidates, have a cut-off score that a candidate needs to exceed in order to be offered a position. If the candidate does not meet the requirements, do not lower your standards. An average candidate may look outstanding after a long day of interviewing below-average candidates.

  • “I like a person who has debt, this means he will work hard to make money.” Being hungry does not guarantee that a candidate will be aggressive on the showroom floor. High debt should indicate to you that the candidate may have problems planning and may be experiencing high levels of stress that will interfere with job performance.

  • “She sold a lot of cars at the last dealership she worked.” Unless you know the dealership the candidate worked at previously, you have no idea why she sold a lot of cars. They may have had good sales because demand for the product was high. Sales may have been strong because of the management team. Your selling system and circumstances may be much different than that of the candidate's previous employer.

  • “I don't need to send him to formal training. If he is any, good he will make it.” A well-trained employee will have higher morale and more enthusiasm. Simply having the candidate work with the senior sales person may only serve to perpetuate existing poor practices.

Now, more than ever dealers are realizing that a good employee is a hot commodity. Effective selection processes will help you get the best people available. After all, you need more than few more “ups” to be successful.

Andrew J. Blazsanyik (847-953-6057/Andrew_Blazsanyik@AON.com) is senior vice president of Resource Training, a division of Resource Automotive, an Aon Company.