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In what now can be considered a good selling market — and what many predict will soon be a booming market — there are many dealerships under-performing, and some mightily struggling.

Why? Although there can be many reasons for dealerships that struggle, after two decades of consulting, coaching and training dealerships, I found consistent themes for the struggles. Let’s start with common theme No. 1: the wrong people.


There are four elements to any dealership. I call these the 4Ps:

  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.


First of all, you must determine who you are looking for and what you want in a candidate.

You must take the time and write down the qualities of what I refer to as your “ideal candidate.” If you do not take the time to identify what it is you are looking for, how would you know if you found this person? When you do not specifically identify the traits, characteristics and talents you are looking for, you are looking to make personnel judgments based solely upon emotion. Your decisions seem to 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 draft.

Hours upon hours are put into research, tests, measurements and interviews of potential draftees. 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. Nobody ever knows if you will make the best selection — or even the right selection — but with a well thought- out and executed plan, you tend to get much better results.


Dealerships that struggle often have less-than desirable team members, 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 or action plan with the end result 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 flock together”). The struggling dealership perpetuates the struggle, and a victim mentality begins to set in about how it is impossible to get good people these days.


After you identify what your ideal candidate would look like for each position, you must put together an action plan to attract these people.

If you are still only running newspaper ads for positions, you are woefully behind the times and, more often than not, attracting lower-end people.


You must utilize as many 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, online and offline newsletters, other industry forums, recruiting military, other industries and businesses you frequent.


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


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? So, why do you interview candidates without well-thought-out questions? “Do you like cars” is not one of those questions? Come on.


Do you use predictive indicators, personality profiles and other qualification tools?

These tools may not be 100 percent accurate, but these assessment tools certainly help to weed out bad candidates. You must begin to add logic to the emotion of interviewing and selecting.


Do you conduct more than one interview with more than one manager?

This process is not only about differing opinions; it is about a process that would be expected for a top position. You must have good 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 what you will tolerate. You get what you expect and/or tolerate.


Struggling dealerships expect lesser 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.


For my two free reports — “Hiring Champions” and “Top Interviewing Questions” — e-mail me at with the subject “Hiring Champions.”

Mark Tewart 
307 E. Silver St.
Lebanon, OH 45036
Call us: 513-932-9526
Fax us: 513-934-4588

Views: 858

Tags: cars, for, how, management, mark, more, online, program, sales, sell, More…selling, tewart, to, training, used,


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Comment by Alexander Lau on February 24, 2014 at 8:18am

Good for you, dealerships should wake up and use your services. VERY SMART! :-)

Comment by Mark Tewart on February 24, 2014 at 8:16am

There is a lot of truth to that Alexander

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 24, 2014 at 8:12am


Frankly, I think your service is A LOT more important than most in these waters. Have the wrong people managing your processes and your dead before you take your first step.

We can sit here and talk about how great SEO, social media, etc. is (and we do), but if you've got dummies running those processes or measuring those processes through 3rd party services, you've got BIG problems.

Sadly, I think that's typical. 

Comment by Mark Tewart on February 24, 2014 at 8:07am

Good points Alexander. Hiring is part art and part science. There is never a magic potion fix and that is why you have to work at it everyday and work from wants not just needs. I find that most dealerships do not have a strategy so it does not get better. We are not an HR or recruiting company. We are trainers and consultants and we do provide our clients with solutions so they can do a better job in these areas.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 24, 2014 at 6:20am

Having the right people with the right 'know-how' is an extremely part of any business model. However, let's not sit around and act as if there's some magic potion to be had, an elixir to fix all HR problems. It's not easy for dealerships to define what they need, when they themselves are unaware of talent in their areas. Yes, the resources you've mentioned are a given for HR groups, but that DOESN'T mean they themselves understand whom to interview or hire and what they should be paying them.

It would be great if you were to provide benchmark data on all positions and talent levels. Is that part of your solution?

Comment by Mark Tewart on February 23, 2014 at 6:44pm

Thanks Ralph. I have shared tons of recruiting and hiring information with clients over the years but I can say that I have failed in instilling the importance. Recruiting, hiring and training are simply the missing elements of our business. I am not sure we do a better job now than was done 20 years ago. If auto dealers do not wake up to the importance of this, they will again face serious threats from outsiders who see an opportunity to change the game. Change or be changed.

Comment by Mark Tewart on February 23, 2014 at 6:41pm

Thanks Brian. Leaders create culture and environment. If those are bad you will not retain people. A integral part of culture and environment is strong and frequent communication and interaction. In stores with high turnover you find a we vs. them mentality and a huge void in communication and positive interaction which creates bad culture and environment. You are right my friend.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 22, 2014 at 3:22pm

Mark, thank you for the insights shared in your post... It is amazing to me that so many car dealers do not use any of the many low cost and easily accessible online qualifying tools, assessments and testing resources... As any dealer who has worked for me knows, when it comes to positions in the sales department, I recommend Hire The Winners and their online PRE-INTERVIEW evaluation system which uses a video role playing scenario process.  The idea of screening applicants BEFORE they come to the dealership for an interview is critically important. Screening tests done after interviews are completed are sort of like closing the barn doors after the horses have run off...

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