When you think about the automotive industry, the first thing that comes to mind are the sleazy used car salesmen, of yesterday, with their plaid blazers and the pressure they place on you to buy a car. This is NOT how the automotive industry works today. The same tactics used in the 1980s will not work with buyers today; so the automotive industry had to change. Now you have people who are specifically working in guest relations, finance, management, internet sales, call center representatives, and much more. With the growth of various automotive groups, there has been a need for accounting, human resources, product trainers, and even talent development! But how can you tell if someone is cut out for today’s automotive industry?
The automotive industry requires bright talent that can produce results (such as sales or finding more efficient ways to operate, allowing the business to save money) or support those who produce results. It is still, very much, like running your own business in most positions. You need to be able to sell your product as well as yourself. Those in the supporting roles need to make sure to keep up with the busy, daily demands that keep processes running smoothly. I have narrowed down 6 qualities that make a great automotive retail employee, both customer-facing and behind-the-scenes:
(1) Integrity. This is defined by hiring those that exhibit honesty and morals. Honesty and morals are qualities thought to be forbidden in the automotive retail world, but integrity must exist!
(2) Respect. This is the ability to appreciate others for the qualities that they exhibit. To be able to truly understand a customer, co-worker, leader, or subordinate… respect must be a quality each candidate possesses.
(3) Tenacity. Tenacity is the desire to go after a goal with the utmost intensity and desire. We need folks in the automotive world who have an “itch” to work on projects until completion. These are the folks who clock out when the job is done, not when the clock tells them to.
(4) Transparency. When you show your hand, so to speak, to your employees or your customers… you are being transparent. Not hiding things, or being deceitful, will help to build trust with others. Trust is the most important aspect of trying to build a team or a relationship.
(5) Cleverness. This isn’t the kind of cleverness to find your way around tasks. This meaning of cleverness is the ability to understand and learn quickly. To keep up with an ever-changing automotive industry, you have to be willing to learn. To build on this idea of cleverness even more, the ability to learn from your mistakes and make changes is an ability that all automotive industry personnel must have to truly be successful.
(6) Accepting. This is an important idea so employees are not trapped in the stone age. Processes change, automobiles change, management techniques change… being accepting of these changes is very important to continue developing new and better ways of working in the automotive industry.
In order to find the talent that possesses the aforementioned qualities we, as automotive industry recruiters, must find a way to vet the quality talent. This means to change the interview process a bit. Develop a ranking system, based on hypothetical and past experience questions, that focus on asking about the qualities you deem as important. You don’t just have to interview once, interview a second time to see if you get the same feeling and similar answers. Set minimum standards for the people you want to hire. This doesn’t mean that a dismal background history should exclude them from consideration, but do look to see if they have learned from their mistakes and taken action to be better. Find out if their motivators are suited for their particular position. For example, take the sales consultant who lists that they desire a $40,000 per year salary versus the sales consultant who lists that they desire a $100,000 per year salary. The $100,000 per year candidate, most likely, has a higher desire to sell cars and will outperform the candidate who is complacent with a $40,000 per year salary. The $40,000 per year candidate may be better suited for a different position.
With these tools in hand, and the ability to vet candidates before presenting them to the hiring manager, it should be easy to spot and hire the right candidate for the right position. A cliché I’ve heard floating around for a while is, “hire hard, manage easy.” I believe this cliché is the living embodiment of proper hiring to ensure a quality workforce.
Phillip Wiseman is a Management Trainee at one of the largest automotive retailers in the world and earned that position due to his undergraduate studies in Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina Univers