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How to Apply TLC (Tough Leadership Criteria) To Your Hiring Process

By now, most automotive professionals are aware of the need to crack down on hiring practices in their dealerships-the mirror-fogging test just won’t cut it anymore. The question of course is how to do this. Below, the experts at ADP Digital Marketing shares four best practices for vetting potential employees.


Four Tough Hiring Practices to Employ in Your Dealership Today

1.     Sales Call Shakedown. Does your candidate have the phone skills for the job? There’s only one way to find out. Set up a phone interview and role-play a sample sales call. Posing as a customer, ask your potential hire simple questions such as:

  • “Do you have the car I’m looking for?”
  • “How is it equipped?”
  • “What is my trade worth?
  • “How much does the car I want cost?”

2.      Email Pop Quiz. Have your candidate email you a one-paragraph summary of why they are the right person for the position. Not only will this allow you to gauge their salesmanship abilities, it will also enable you to evaluate increasingly important skills such as grammar, readability, and Internet etiquette.” In today’s dealership, online literacy is a must,” Performance Improvement Consultant Rich Rikess says. “A potential hire needs to be able to communicate well across all channels.”

3.      Follow-up Fire Drill. After an interview, purposely delay getting back to the candidate. This may seem heartless, but it will separate the hustlers from the non-starters.  Following-up is a key part of car salesmanship, so this type of test is necessary to gauge a potential hire’s true prowess. Candidates that strike that perfect balance of politeness and persistence should move on the next step. “This test will also help you determine who is truly focused on working at your dealership versus who is applying all over town,” Rikess notes.

4.      The “Right Fit” Test. “A test!” you say. “This isn’t the SATs!” True, but there are many “soft skills” personality tests out there that help you further pre-qualify candidates in a way that a face-to-face interview may not. In fact, many dealer groups already use them, and single-point stores would do well to emulate this practice. “Many dealerships use Predictive Index (PI) or DiSC from Inscape Publishing.” Rikess Says. “In the end, dealers should conduct research and integrate the personality test that works best for them.”

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. However, in the dramatically evolved digital age, these hiring processes are do-or-die. “Hiring any warm body off the street may have worked just fine years ago,” said Performance Improvement Consulting Manager Steve Hanson, “but the availability of online information has created a much more educated and informed consumers than ever before.” Therefore, Hanson said, “It takes aptitude and real skills to not only close a deal, but to also completely satisfy today’s demanding consumers and project the appropriate image of the dealership.”

Steve Hanson, Performance Improvement Consulting Manager

Steve Hanson, Performance Improvement Consulting Manager,  joined the Cobalt team in 2001 and brings over 20 years of retail dealership operations and consulting experience to Cobalt’s
clients. As a digital pioneer, Steve established his first Internet Department in 1995 as General Manager and minority partner of a
Mazda dealership. You may reach Steve at


Richard Rikess, Certified Performance Improvement Consultant for ADP Digital Marketing


Richard Rikess, Performance Improvement
Consultant (PIC) for ADP Digital Marketing has been in the automotive industry since birth. His career has
spanned all facets of the auto industry. He has worked in management, sales, marketing and eCommerce.

The Cobalt Group

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Tags: hiring, recruitment, staff, training, turnover


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