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Your Frontline Employees Are Your Brand: Do You Have the Right Ones?

Poor hiring practices cost the automotive industry billions of dollars annually. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee’s first-year earnings

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Poor hiring practices cost the automotive industry billions of dollars annually. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee’s first-year earnings. Similarly, the NADA 2017 Dealership Workforce Study reported that overall turnover increased year over year in seven of nine key dealership roles, which suggests a significant and costly talent selection problem in the automotive industry.

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Research from a joint study from Hireology and Cox Automotive reports that nearly 67 percent of today’s dealerships have no staffing strategy or formalized hiring process; clearly, this needs to change. Dealers may not be able to control things such as recalls, interest rates or industry evolution and trends, but they can control who they hire.

The bottom line is this: The difference between a mediocre dealership and a great dealership is the strength of its people.

The Importance of a Positive Phone Experience

As today’s consumers access more product information and gather answers to their questions through the use of online resources, it’s becoming more important than ever to build value in the customer experience versus your store’s offerings alone. Shaping great customer experiences begins with one of the first critical moments that matter: the phone call.

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If you advise your service department to be honest with your customers by saying something like, “Your brakes are fine, but your alignment is totally out of whack,” then you should know the same concept could apply in your dealership.

Everything may seem fine, but if your frontline employees aren’t driving the type of experience you want for your callers, then there’s a major misalignment. Since 84 percent of calls to dealerships end without satisfying the caller’s questions, the phones are a great opportunity to lift sales and CSI.

The experience that callers have with your dealership is largely driven by the employee who answers the phone. Ensure that your employees are going in the right direction by including strong phone skills in your interviewing process.

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Take Control of Your Hiring and Selection Process

Stop hiring candidates just because you need a body to fill an opening. Hiring decisions are too often made based on who we like best, who presents themselves with the most confidence or who was recommended by someone we trust. In reality, that’s not a reliable way to pick the best performer or best fit for the job.

Instead, create a pre-screening process that includes a formal assessment, behavior-based interviewing techniques and an audition over the phone. For example, Disney doesn’t hire cast members who don’t love talking to strangers, so dealers shouldn’t hire employees who don’t love talking on the phone. And how do you find out if your candidate is a skilled communicator over the phone? Conduct a working interview over the phone and make sure phone interaction is part of your interview process. This way, you will experience firsthand how the potential employee will interact with customers, especially when faced with difficult-to-answer questions or other scenarios.

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Best Practices for Hiring Sales All-Stars

Hiring top performers is not a series of simple steps; rather, consider the following best practices:
Identify the traits and skills necessary to be successful in the role by developing an ideal candidate profile.
Use assessments to identify your workplace preferences and natural strengths, which will result in hires who enjoy their job and be productive versus hiring a great candidate for the wrong role.
Make interviews behavior based. Ask questions that focus on the candidate’s past performance to find out if they have the skills and personality traits that you’re looking for, since how the candidate reacted to a situation in the past is likely how they will react in the future. Behavior-based interviewing improves your chances of selecting the right candidate two to five times over the traditional process and has a 70 percent predictive ability rate versus traditional methods, which have only a 19 percent predictive ability rate.

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Final Thoughts

Customers call car dealerships because they want their questions answered. In fact, call data reveals that when a customer’s questions are fully answered by an upbeat salesperson, it is the caller who asks for the appointment 57 percent of the time.

Positive customer experience isn’t just polite — it’s a differentiator. Selecting the right people and putting them in the driver’s seat ensures a successful ride for your callers and sets your dealership apart from the competitors.

Michael Markette


To check out more from Michael Markette and CallRevu, click here

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