How to Work with Automotive Recruiters to Find the Best Sales Staff


Automotive recruiters can proactively seek top talent while you concentrate on running a successful dealership

01-how-to-work-with-automotive-recruiters-to-find-the-best-sales-staff-01Running a dealership is a lot of hard work, but you’ve always loved it because no two days are ever the same. You’re always multitasking, bouncing between sales, financing, and service, and trying to make sure you’re involved in every facet of the operation. Your dealership is your pride and joy — why wouldn’t you put your heart and soul into it?

One sore spot you can’t quite seem to master, though, is hiring a strong sales staff. It’s undoubtedly frustrating, but don’t worry — you’re not alone. The National Automobile Dealers Association’s 2015 Dealership Workforce Study reported that the annual turnover rate for all dealership positions is 39.4 percent. The turnover rate for auto sales people? 71.9 percent.

There are always going to be some aspects of losing salespeople that are almost impossible to control. For example, if you’re running a used car dealership, some lower-paid employees may be lured away to luxury dealerships that can boost their paychecks. A big part of keeping your sales staff, though, is hiring the right people in the first place, then helping to make their job enjoyable. And if you’re incredibly busy already, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for you to dedicate to a thorough candidate search every time there’s an opening at your dealership. At this point, you may want to think about outsourcing your search to automotive recruiters.

The basics of working with automotive recruiters to improve your sales team

You know all of that time and energy you put into creating job advertisements, wading through resumes, conducting phone interviews, and checking references? Automotive recruiters take all of that off your plate — plus more.

Automotive recruiters are experts in finding qualified job candidates. They already have a book of active job seekers that they can turn to, and they’re often very proactive in their technique. Instead of posting a job online and hoping for responses, they call their connections and comb social media sites (especially LinkedIn) looking for people that fit your desired candidate profile.

02-how-to-work-with-automotive-recruiters-to-find-the-best-sales-staff-01Rather than speaking with only candidates who are presently looking for jobs, they also reach out to individuals who are currently employed by other dealerships or companies. They’re laser-focused on finding your ideal salespeople, not just warm bodies that you can push out into the showroom when it gets busy.

There are a few different types of recruiters, but the two most common are contingency recruiting companies and retained search firms.

• Contingency recruiting

In this situation, you’d offer a few different automotive recruiters the opportunity to find the right candidate for your dealership’s open position. These recruiters aren’t paid unless they submit the candidate you ultimately hire. Many employers opt for this type of recruiting because they can retain the services of many different companies and only have to pay the one that succeeds in finding the top candidate. Once you’ve hired someone, the recruiter’s fee is usually about 25 percent of the new hire’s yearly salary. You pay that fee and no part of it comes out of the employee’s salary — it’s in addition.

• Retained search

With a retained search, you hire one auto recruiting company and pay them at various times throughout the search process. This tends to be a much more expensive option than contingency recruiting, but it comes with a higher level of service and more thorough vetting of candidates.

You’re in control of the degree of experience you want candidates to have. You can tell the recruiter you only want salespeople with at least two years of experience because you don’t have time to train them on the basics of sales. If you want someone who has experience selling your dealership’s top makes and models, that is possible too.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could tell the recruiter that you want entry level salespeople who haven’t worked in a dealership before so you can train and mold them into what you need. You’re the boss, and the recruiter is working for you.

03-how-to-work-with-automotive-recruiters-to-find-the-best-sales-staff-013 tips for using automotive recruiters to find the best sales staff

1. Look for recruiters that specialize in the auto industry

There are many types of recruiters out there, and you don’t have to call the one that pops up first on Google. Ask around and do a little bit of homework to find a recruiter or agency that uniquely focuses on auto dealership staffing. They’ll have a much better understanding of what you need from the get go.

2. Let go and trust the recruiter

Don’t micromanage your recruiter. They know what they’re doing, and they have a process, so let them work and give them a chance to prove themselves.

3. Pick their brains

If you have a high turnover rate and your recruiter often works with automotive salespeople, they’ve heard some stories. Candidates will often be quite honest with recruiters about why they left past positions or what they didn’t like in their former dealership. Talk to your recruiter about what they’ve been hearing from auto salespeople to get a better idea of how to retain your employees.

Working with automotive recruiters can prove to be a positive experience for everyone involved if handled correctly. Find a recruiter or recruiters that you believe you can trust, and work together to build a more successful dealership sales team.

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Patrick H.
Patrick H.