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Why Dealerships Struggle: Part 1 of 3

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Guest expert Mark Tewart Shares How to Build a Winning Team

In what now can be considered a good selling market and what many predict will soon be a booming market, there are many dealerships underperforming and even struggling mightily. Why? Although there are many contributing factors for dealerships that underperform, after two decades of consulting, coaching and training dealerships, I submit that there are consistent causes of the struggles. Let’s start with the first theme: the wrong people.

There are four elements to any dealership’s performance, and I call these the 4P’s:

  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Product
  4. Positioning

Without the right people, it is impossible to make the other P’s work. Struggling dealerships hire the wrong people, keep the wrong people, and allow the wrong people to damage their business.

To avoid this common pitfall you must determine who you are looking for and what you want in a candidate. You must take the time to document what I refer to as your Ideal Candidate. If you do not take the time to identify what you are looking for, how would you know if you found the ideal person? When you do not know specifically what traits, characteristics and talents that you are looking for, you are looking to make personnel judgments based solely upon emotion. Your hiring decisions will likely be irrational, with no well thought out theme for selection.

As an example, look at NFL teams and the amount of effort they put into the annual draft. Hours upon hours are invested in research, tests, measurements and interviews of potential candidates. A plan is formulated as to what type of player they are looking for and what role those players would fill. Fielding a team at a dealership is really the same thing. No one can definitively predict if you will make the best or even the right selection for every role, but with a well thought out and executed plan you tend to get much better results.

Dealerships that frequently struggle have less than desirable team members compared to their market leading competition, and often that is true of their leader. I have never seen a Dealer Principal who has a struggling dealership with a plan for assembling a team. There is no strategy and action plan with the goal in mind. Struggling dealerships continue to spin their wheels and eventually gain a reputation as a bad place to work with bad people. Birds of a feather truly will flock together, without a plan to deflect them. The underperforming dealership perpetuates the struggle, and a victim mentality begins to set in about how it’s impossible to get good people these days.

After you document your ideal candidate for each position, you must then create an action plan to attract these people. If you are still running only newspaper ads for positions, you are woefully behind the times and likely attracting lower end people.

You must utilize as many candidate souring resources as possible, such as Career Builder, Monster, your website, LinkedIn, all of your social media sites, industry social forums, referral programs, job fairs, college and technical school recruiting, on and offline newsletters, other industry forums, recruiting military, other industries and even successful businesses that you frequent.

Successful recruiting is well thought out and ongoing, never ending process. Your goal is to reach a professional level of recruiting from the position of want instead of need.

So let’s cover some additional recruiting and hiring tips. When you conduct an interview with a potential candidate, have a long list of interview questions handy that you use faithfully. Would you want a salesperson to address a customer without knowing a long list of well thought out profiling questions? Then why interview candidates without detailed questions? And “Do you like cars?” is not one of the right questions. Come on!

Do you use predictive indicators, personality profiles and other qualification tools? These tools may not be one hundred percent accurate, but these assessment tools certainly help to weed out bad candidates. You must begin to add logic to the emotional nature of interviewing and selecting team members.

Do you conduct more than one interview with more than one manager? This best practice is not only about obtaining differing opinions, it is about a repeatable business process that would be expected for a top, professional, career-oriented position. You must have ideal candidates go through a thorough process because that is what would be expected for a professional position. The key word is professional. You must begin to think and act in terms that will create a different belief system. Your belief system must change the environment and culture of your dealership to one of success and winning. Success and winning always starts when the leadership changes the belief system by raising the bar for expectations and lowering the bar for toleration and acceptance. You will only get what you accept and tolerate.

Struggling dealerships accept lower quality and tolerate lesser quality work, behavior and results. Championship teams start with champion leaders and team members. Begin to turn your struggling dealership around today with a champion attitude, belief system, strategy and execution for recruiting and hiring champions.

Next, read part two in this trilogy to learn how to prepare your internal business culture for talent acquisition from the top down.

Mark Tewart
Mark Tewart

As CEO of Tewart Enterprises, Mark started his career as a top performing Salesperson, Sales Manager and General Manager of several multimillion dollar retail businesses. Using this experience and expertise, Mark has been a renowned speaker, trainer, author and consultant for over a decade.

To receive two FREE Reports “Hiring Champions” and “Top Interviewing Questions” email info@tewart.com with the words “Hiring Champions” in the Subject Line.