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Published in the Canadian Auto Dealer Magazine, June 6, 2017

By Blair Qualey
Hiring and training tips for dealers to find — and retain — sought after talent. Without a doubt, employees are the most important and valuable assets of a company.

From my years of experience, it’s the people that make a company great, and great employees are irreplaceable. For many dealers, finding a good match to fill a position takes time and can be a challenging ordeal.

Karen Lee, the Director of Talent Management at one of British Columbia’s most innovative and recognized dealer groups, Trotman Auto Group, shared some of her tips to both attract and retain her company’s most valuable asset.

First things first: hiring managers need to think outside the box. Some of the most successful people in the automotive sector didn’t start their careers in the industry.

One of the most important things to look for in a candidate is not necessarily a history in the automotive industry, but transitional skills.

Being a good communicator and having the ability to build lasting relationships are invaluable and can easily be transferred from job to job.

Secondly, don’t hire for the job, hire for the personality.

It’s more important to have someone who is a good fit with the group than someone with years of experience with a personality that does not mesh well with the company culture. Skills can ultimately be learned — not so when it comes to personality.

More than one person should review a potential candidate to remove any potential bias; having more than one set of eyes on a possible hire gives you an holistic view of the candidate’s abilities.

During the interview, try to identify how this individual can fit into the corporate culture of the organization.

Thirdly, invest in recruitment.

Trotman Auto Group attends career fairs and actively engages with local associations to reach their target audience.

Connecting with students through career fairs provides visibility, which is crucial. Karen also advises having a strong online presence, including social media, in order to create exposure.

Karen’s fourth tip is to have a strong internal training program.

Salespeople represent the company branding — brand new salespeople are not prepared to talk to clients about all the dealership products.

What’s more, putting a new recruit on the floor prematurely can add an unnecessary level of pressure and stress, that potential clients may pick up on.

Karen emphasizes having a training program in place to ensure that recruits are as comfortable and confident as possible before they hit the sales floor.

The first interaction between the new recruit and the rest of the team should also be as positive as possible.

Karen recommends a team activity to get them engaged and to break the ice. After an introduction to all the departments to reduce any nervousness, the recruit is given the rest of the day to recharge for work on the second day.

Lastly, new ideas in the industry should be shared between dealers in order to elevate both the customer and the employee experience. Improvements in the industry and working together will attract new workers and push the industry ahead.

Keeping these tips in mind will help dealerships across Canada attract and retain quality talent, which is something we can all get behind.

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