Happy Headhunting

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Recruiting good salespeople is something that you should have on your mind 24/7/365. If you wait until you need staff, you'll let your immediate needs impact your decision process. You'll drop your standards and bring in some warm body just to fill a hole. Within six months either you'll be back at it, or you'll be trying to justify keeping that person on board when he really needs to be sent packing.

A solid 24/7/365 recruiting mind-set is necessary in all areas of your dealership, but especially in the pre-owned department, where promotions, attrition and emergencies have a tendency to chip away at staff.

When you're out in public you encounter many folks who impress you with their professional demeanor, whether it's the person getting your coffee at Starbucks or the person assisting you in buying a pair of shoes. Strike up a conversation and ask if they're interested in the motorcycle business. If they are or they ask why you ask, just comment, "Well, I've been impressed with your professionalism, and we're always looking for good people at ABC Dealership. So if you're ever curious about the career opportunities in the motorcycle business, please contact me." Then leave them your business card. They may not contact you, but if they do, you have already begun the recruiting process.

This kind of mind-set also helps you avoid ever being perceived as not hiring a person because of age, ethnicity or gender. When you're proactive as opposed to reactive, you have the opportunity to control your used staffing process.

Classifieds, Job Fairs

In addition to always being on the lookout, place an ongoing "liner ad" in your area's major newspaper. Don't purchase big display ads that have more to do with ego than getting the message out. They're 10 times more expensive. Write something like "ABC Dealership is considering adding to the used motorcycle sales staff. For information, please contact Jay Williams at (919) 718-1261, motorcyclemaxx@msn.com." The operative word is considering. This gives you control over the pace of the hiring process.

I've always worked successfully with phone numbers (and e-mail addresses) in an ad because I want to communicate with a person before I schedule a walk-in. When people call they want to know several things, and so do you.

Having people call first also allows you to control the flow of applicants in and out of your store. If the person calling in seems to have a certain sensibility, schedule him to come to your store at your convenience. This allows time for interviewing and ensures that you don't have a bunch of people pacing up and down your showroom, staring at you as you work a deal.

Another approach to staffing is the recruitment event. Twice a year sponsor an event at your store where you create a festive atmosphere (with nonalcoholic refreshments) and invite folks that may be curious about used bike sales. Again, this allows you to control the flow of people into your store and gives you an opportunity to meet potential salespeople in an atmosphere that's less threatening. People don't have to fill out applications. You and management can just greet them and talk in general about your product and store. If they're interested, you could have a private area set up on the showroom floor for them to sit and fill out an application. Then, unless youswept off your feet, schedule them to come back at a more convenient time.

Whom to Hire

There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to choosing good used bike sales representatives. If you hire people with no experience, you have the advantage of building and training them into the salespeople you've always desired. Rookies, however, must be taught the entire sales process.

If you hire folks who have already developed sales skills, they usually will be able to work smarter and quicker. The drawback is they sometimes can't be trained because they're set in their ways. Judge each recruit individually and go from there.

Jay Williams is the owner of Motorcycle Maxx Ltd. in Raleigh, NC. E-mail questions and comments to editors@dealernews.com.