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Four Fundamental Steps for Hiring Product Specialists at Your Dealership

Written By: Kevin Baumgart
Posted on July 26, 2016

Our automotive customers have shared that employing product specialists helps improve customer experience and loyalty, while simultaneously lowering employee turnover. When executed well, everyone is better off—the dealership, from improved customer satisfaction; the new employee, with a clearly defined career path; and the customer, who drives off your lot happy and ready to refer their friends.

Why do you need this position? Today’s consumers are more informed than ever, and the traditional sales approach isn’t working like it used to. Customers don’t want a sales pitch when they come to the dealership—they’d rather leverage their own research to speed up the buying process and purchase their new vehicle as quickly as possible.

Traditional salespeople and this new breed of product specialists are not cut from the same cloth. This new group of job-seekers is harder to recruit and retain, forcing you to bring your recruiting A-game.

Step 1: Learn what makes great product specialists

Based on data from Hireology’s Talent Coaches—our team who works with dealerships to help them recruit and hire great resources—there are several key factors to look for when hiring a product specialist:

  1. New to the industry: You want your employees to be molded by your system, not bringing bad habits into your dealership.
  2. Ability to be a sponge: If they know nothing about the car business, then they must be prepared to absorb information and put it to immediate use.
  3. Comfort with technology: New specialists should have the ability to learn the multitude of vehicle features and convey them to the customer in a digestible manner.
  4. Puts customer needs first: Successful product specialists do what it takes to make the customer happy and find the car that’s right for them.

When we look outside the auto industry for product specialists, we create a near-limitless supply of job seekers. As long as a candidate has the fundamental building blocks for success, he or she could be the exact employee you’ve been seeking.

Step 2: Discover the best candidates

Dealership executives must know how to find and recruit preferred talent when it comes to building a team of product specialists—which means sourcing your candidates. You need proactively to determine where you want to locate top talent. Think about using job boards such as Indeed.com, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Snagajob so you can source candidates from the world’s best job sites.

Hireology’s Talent Coaches also recommend attending college career fairs and to build a strong social media presence for your dealership. Include on your dealership’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter pages such information as company culture, career opportunities and employee reviews. This helps ensure your dealership remains present within this ever-growing channel for job seekers.

Keep in mind that it’s important to have all your employees share this information and motivate them to want to share it. Otherwise, your social media efforts will seem forced or manufactured.

Here’s our breakdown for candidate discovery:

  1. Publish jobs to the most effective job boards
  2. Share positions using your social media accounts
  3. Transform your website into a customizable job site
  4. Use mobile-friendly job applications
  5. Apply candidate pre-screening surveys
  6. Create an employee referral program

Step 3: Attract the right talent

There are two critical factors for attracting qualified candidates to fulfill your product specialist roles—the job post (which includes a job description) and the career site.

Most young job seekers aren’t actively considering traditional auto sales as a career option, so highlight the fact that you’re hiring for a product specialist position to drive more interest in the millennial market. Let job seekers know this fundamental difference in the job description and post.

Here’s an example format to follow when creating a Product Specialist job description:

JOB TITLE: Product Specialist

COMPANY: Jon Doe Automotive

DEALERSHIP AND ROLE: Be sure you tell applicants why your dealership is a great place to work and why this is a fantastic role within the company. Describe these vital details in a paragraph or two before you mention the benefits, responsibilities and qualifications. This step is critical to developing their interest and drawing them in to apply.

BENEFITS: Add any benefits that your dealership may offer for employees, such as 401K, medical and dental insurance, paid time off and other perks.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Have bullet points listing all essential daily tasks, duties and any other obligations that are needed to be a top-performing product specialist at your dealership.

QUALIFICATIONS: List all things that require a product specialist to thrive to at the job, such as ideal personalities, skill sets and anything else you would consider needed in a qualified dealership employee.

Click here to get Hireology’s sample product specialist job description that will drive applicants.

Take advantage of a career site:

Updating the dealership career site is indispensable when attracting today’s product specialist job seekers. Design, word choice and other essentials play a major role in attracting applicants and top talent. Don’t let a non-existent or old careers page slowly fading on your website get in the way of finding great product specialists. Be sure you’re utilizing a streamlined career site so you can attract quality talent to your dealership.

Step 4: Interview (twice), verify, and hire

After you build your talent pool with a number of candidates, it’s time to interview your top choices for your product specialist positions. Starting this process with a phone interview is the best way to weed out the best candidates from the other applicants. From there, it’s highly recommended to conduct in-person interviews with the preferred candidates so you can get a better feel of who these people are and whether or not they might be qualified to work at your dealership. Lastly, before you make your hiring decisions, it’s always best practice to verify your candidates via background and reference checks.

Here are some tips on each phase of the process, so you can make sure you’re hiring qualified employees:

The Phone Screen—To get a better sense of who the applicant is, make sure you ask about his or her careers plans, their generals likes and dislikes, and their job history. Finish up the call by providing any information you have about your open product specialist role. Phone screens are an excellent way to save time by weeding out less qualified candidates and focusing on in-person interviewing only those that are qualified.

The Face-to-Face Interview—These interview questions are different compared to the phone screen. Use this time when to learn more about the candidate and measure his or her work behaviors and personality. Skill assessment tests are the best way to gauge fully how qualified a candidate is for the job and are highly recommended.

Verification—The last step of any good interview process contains background and reference checks. There are easy ways to complete these processes without having to spend extra time on your end; be sure to do your due diligence when researching preferred vendors.

Wrapping up: Product specialists are the future

The sales team structure at dealerships is changing. More dealerships are finding success with product specialists: their recruiting efforts are improving, their customer satisfaction is improving and their overall business is on the right path for thriving in today’s market.

Don’t let your dealership fall behind your competition when hiring new sales employees, especially on the product specialist end. It’s time to start employing product specialists so you can improve customer experience and loyalty, as well as achieve the hard-to-reach goal for every dealership—lower turnover.

Special thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing the results of their study. Learn more about Hireology.

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