Finding Good People. 25 Years Of Insights, Part 1

Finding good people is a challenge. I think it is one of the biggest challenges that a business must deal with, and they are out there. . . somewhere.

As a truck body guy, people were always asking if I knew someone that would come to work and be their commercial manager, fleet manager, commercial salesperson, etc. Most of them were trying to get the guy from the town close to them who has been at that dealership for a long time and have them come to this dealership, bring all their customers, and be up and running at full speed within a week. . . approximately. So, I ask, well if they have been there for a long time, why in the world would they come here and start all over again? That is a great question. What will be so much better that they would do that? And trust that the promises would be followed through? Good luck.

Even if the guy or gal down the road did come, I can guarantee you that they cannot bring all their customers even if they wanted to. They will not be up to speed in a week, let alone a month. They are used to operating a certain way and now all that will change. Realistically, the best you could hope for with a sane mind would be better than starting from scratch. That is, if it lasts. Just because they come, doesn't mean they will stay. This is not the easy transition it is made out to be.

On the outside chance you can get them to come, they get up to speed in a month or so and they appear to be staying, that is a dream deal and you should celebrate appropriately. On the more likely chance they aren't coming, Plan B has some possibilities.

After 25 years in the car business and 22 of those years in management, I have endured a large number of interviews of prospective employees, most of which would be hired for the sales department or commercial sales department. So, after all of that and the hiring of quite a number, I have some experience built up and insights that struck me up the side of the head. I'll share a few with you in hopes you can steer a solid course.

Insight #1: I'll start out with the best lesson I've ever learned about hiring salespeople. I am always looking for a good salesperson. Sure, it would be sheer perfection to find a super star, but when you find that one super star, what do you do with the rest of your team? I have my eyes and ears open everywhere I go. I got so good at it that I do it today just as a matter of habit. It's a fun habit too. I see the potentially good salespeople everywhere. I saw two at the Farmers Market tonight. I saw a couple more at a meeting in San Francisco yesterday. I see them at the dry cleaners, the grocery store, the department store. I hear them on the phone when I cannot see them. If I was now looking, I would draw them in briefly and see if I could gain an interview with them and discuss some possibilities. They are all around you.

Insight #2: I would never, ever again run an ad in the newspaper. If you want to spend all week interviewing people who really don't want to work, but need to go on interviews for whatever reason, go ahead. I haven't got that kind of time, nor energy. It is downright depressing. I used to read the other dealers ads in the paper how they talked about the high commissions, no experience necessary, benefits, salary while learning and all that crap. Sunshine up their skirt is all that is. Like they really do that. The salary is required. It's called Minimum Wage. The training is lethargic and totally ineffective. What most want is a warm body, so that's why no experience is necessary. Well. . . I'm being rather harsh. They weren't all that way of course, but I enjoyed reading the dream ads. I'm sure it really brought in the top producers!

Insight #3: I learned very early on as a sales manager that I was far better off hiring someone who had never been in the car business and training them well, than to hire a guy or gal from another dealership. I did hire people from other dealerships from time to time, but I certainly preferred outsiders. Part of the reason is that I did a huge amount of training--more than any manager I have met--and training the experienced people was at least twice as hard because they already had certain habits they have learned over time and I needed to have them do things differently.

Insight #4: I borrowed this phrase from some unknown someone, but it is one of the most powerful things I ever learned: The purpose of training is to find out who you have. That statement is pure gold. It is totally true and the sooner you accept it, the better off you will be. The reason you train is to find out who you have that will do the things you are training them to do. You will know you have them when they do it. You will keep them when they do it well and you take care of their needs financially and emotionally. The training will cause the one that is not going to work out to stand out so that it is impossible to miss them. In this, training can be a blessing for both parties. Working at a place where it is not working is torture. Working where it is working is fun.

Continued in Part 2 tomorrow.

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