Editor’s note: Jason Breckenridge, owner of Twenty LLC, presented a dealer training session titled “Phone — Friend of Foe: Making the phone an effective sales tool” during the 2013 Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo in Orlando. Nearly 90 percent of the dealer attendees in the session ranked Breckenridge a “5” on a scale of 1 to 5 in four different presentation categories. This is his first appearance in print. He can be reached at 855/7-TWENTY or info@The20.Co.
Every once in a while I get bombarded with the same question and feel the need to share my answer. How, who, when, where, why do I hire?
When you simplify your job, all you really do is manage the Three P’s — people, processes and property (both assets and inventory). Each “P” is imperative, and you can make the argument for one’s importance over another, but it’s people, because it’s the only one that comes with a personality.
After all, you can’t have the operations manager rewrite a person like a policy or the sales manager trade for a different model or have the accountant write them down like depreciation. People call in sick, have bad days, are rude to customers and the list could go on and on. So if you want the process to be done effectively and product to be sold, HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE!
Here a three rules to follow, every time! I will list them in the order of importance and then explain in reverse order.
1. FIT within your organization
2. WILLINGNESS to perform the duties of the position.
3. ABILITY to perform the duties of the position.
As you see, ability is not the most important criteria when choosing a new employee. Now I’m not saying go out and hire someone who has no experience, but a good organization is constantly training and therefore should be promoting from within. Your A Technician should have been a B Technician at your shop, your Bs from C and Cs should be porters who where trained at an accredited school and are now apprenticing at your dealerships.
Any frontline employee should come with a salesperson’s skill set. Knowledge about parts, gear and vehicles can be taught as long as they have a real interest. It is a lot easier to teach a salesperson about motorcycles, parts or helmets than an industry enthusiast how to sell. I can’t count the number of second career sales representatives who will explain anything and everything about a unit but can’t ask for the sale, let alone negotiate the deal.
Employees must be willing to ask for the sale, willing to negotiate, willing to clean, willing to stock, willing to push units … do you get my drift? And here is a great litmus test for your current employees — if you can’t get them to do the simple things, i.e. park in the right location, smoke in the right location, show up on time, keep their area clean, then how do you expect them to do the hard things?
For a new hire, ask them to sell you a pen. It’s not about how well they sell you the pen but whether they try and try with enthusiasm. I know a general manager who asks interviewees to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. He says we sing “Happy Birthday” at least 12 times a year. It’s a job requirement because we sing it once each month at company-wide meetings for all those born that month. More importantly it shows me an employee, who, when confronted with a difficult situation, will give forth the effort to try.
It’s last, and most important. Ever heard the saying, “You are only as strong as your weakest link?” Well, if you don’t believe in discounting, and your manager doesn’t believe in discounting, but the employee at the counter does … guess what? Your dealership believes in discounting. Your front line staff represents the beliefs of the company to your customers. And it is a lot easier to hire employees with your beliefs then to change them. I don’t care how much training your provide, you WILL NOT CHANGE THEIR BELIEFS!
Disney doesn’t have the best “cast members” because of their training; they have them because they hire the best of the best and then train them. No one comes to Disney with ABILITY to be Mickey Mouse, but with the WILLINGNESS and beliefs (FIT) of the Disney Corporation. Disney will then teach and train you to be Mickey Mouse.
Lastly, hiring is not difficult but it does take time and effort. The more applicants you have, the more interviews you can conduct and thus a greater pool of potential candidates. Remember, look first for that person who has your business beliefs. Second, do they have the willingness to do every facet of the job? Lastly, what industry skills do they have to offer?