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Michael Hirschfield

Michael Hirschfield President

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Where is the Talent?

Where's the Talent?

The landscape of the Auto Industry is constantly changing with no end in sight. While one industry trend, "technology," has allowed dealers to operate smarter, leaner, and more efficiently; another industry trend, "lack of talent," has caused many dealers to constantly chase their tails in search of growth and even sustainability.

The Car Business of old enjoyed a large supply of savvy salespeople, fast-footed veteran managers, and aggressive dealer principles. Todays operators find themselves constantly riddled with the stresses of attracting and developing new talent. It seams as though while the opportunities in this industry are endless, the young class of America is less than thrilled at the prospect of exchanging their time for money in this evolving marketplace.

Talent is not consistent. Everyone's level of talent has a low and a high, never staying the same. While some individuals' talent level gets better with age, others' talent level seems to fade away into the sunset. Bottom line... talent comes and goes. So what's the answer?

For starters, dealerships can not be measured, nor held hostage from reaching their goals based on their ability to attract and develop talent alone. 8f13f20a295b69310a5def6d2cb56b4b.png?t=1

Ultimately, there is something far more important than talent, and that is systems and culture.When you look at some of the most successful businesses in history you will find that they had phenominal systems and culture; and while individuals' talent may have changed over time, the company's systems and culture remained the same.

In best-selling book "Good to Great" author Jim Collins discusses research that was conducted on elite companies that made the leap from good-to-great and sustained those results for at least 15 years. In the book, Jim Collins lays out the similarities between these companies including: Level 5 Leadership, a First Who..Then What Philosophy, the Ability to Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet never Lose Faith), a Steadfast Adherence to the Hedgehog Concept, a Culture of Discipline, the Strategic use of Technology as an Accelerator of Momentum, and an improvement model that looked more like a  Flywheel than a Doom Loop. All companies had rock solid systems and culture, but not just any culture.  A culture of discipline. While all good-to-great companies did follow a First Who...Then What Philosophy, the companies placed a greater weight on an individuals' character attributes than their education, training, and talent. As quoted directly from the book, "One good-to-great executive said that his best hiring decisions often came from people with no industry or business experience." Even more interesting, none of these elite companies had a "high profile" CEO, yet during the fifteen year period produced results more than twice as good as the results delivered by the composite index of well known companies such as Coca-Cola, Intel, and General Electric. For the elite companies that made the leap from Good-to-Great systems and culture proved to be more valuable than an individuals' talent.

This concept is not new to our industry. Its no surprise that the presence and keen focus on systems and culture can easily be recognized in some of the largest and most successful automotive dealer groups in the Country. Scaleable systems combined with a winning culture of discipline have put these Groups in a position to win!

Next time you find yourself burdened by filling another open position, take a step back and evaluate your systems and culture. Maybe you will decide it's time to invest in the future of your business as a whole, rather than in merely one talented individual. Reach out for help to conceive, construct, coordinate, and cultivate the "right" systems and "right" culture, and accelerate your success. Remember, your systems and culture are bigger and more important than the talent.

Look beyond talent and zero in on getting a Foundation to Win!

Michael Hirschfield

 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader!”
John Quincy Adams

 

Michael Hirschfield
President
Cornerstone Dealer Development, LLC

Direct: 920-422-4007
Fax: 888-395-0427
Mike@FoundationToWin.com

www.FoundationToWin.com


 

Lindsay Lavery
Nice reminder Michael--- your post reminds me once when @AJ Leblanc of Car-Mercial said at times the talent pool appears way down here yet opportunity is high for the right candidate. The hours alone prevent attractive candidates from applying. Who doesn't seek a balance between work and life? Certainly there are dealerships that have now created these kind of environments but I'd guess most have not. Last note-- a pet-peve of mine is when a veteran sales person will say, "Well you've never sold a car in your life." Yes, true but new employees, even those outside of the automotive realm, in my experience can quickly learn how to use the latest technology, study customer behaviors and become successful assets to any dealership. #developtalentwithin :)
Michael Hirschfield
Agreed 100%. Thanks for commenting Lindsay. Any individual can be successful when plugged into the "right" system with great culture as long as the individual has the "good" character. Talent should be celebrated, but should not be the standard by which an organization is measured.
David Ruggles
Our industry has run off a lot off talent over the years. I've been watching the business as a participant for over 4 decades. I've watched the vehicle markup shrink, the packs increase, the demos go away, the gross profit moved from over invoice to "trunk money," the Internet do what it does, etc. etc. etc. Without substantial earnings available we're kidding ourselves if we think we can attract and retain talent. What self respecting sales person would have tolerated having his/her compensation screwed with to the degree we've seen and still stay in the game? There is a bottom line to this. The closing percentage of new hires sucks. The closing percentage of veteran sales people with a following, not so much. I keep thinking someone will figure this out, but so far no go. Dealers are a hard headed bunch. They need to quit carping about OEM pulls and spins and partner with their OEMs to compensate sales people properly. What sales person wants to do a subvented lease for a $50. mini? The OEM has to kick in and dealers need to STFU about it.
Michael Hirschfield
Thanks for commenting David. Pay plans have definitely changed to meet the needs of today's low-frontend gross / high-volume operators. Attracting salespeople with promises of a six-figure incomes is no longer realistic on a large scale. With that said, good systems can drive results and growth, and good culture is critical to cultivating top performers that stay. This is even more true with the young class of America.
David Ruggles
Attracting new sales people is a lot easier than keeping them as evidenced by the so called "recruiting/training companies doing business today. I know a number of 100K sales people but they have a book of business from their years of doing business and their dealers have protected their pay plans. I can think of two off the top of my head who still drive demos, not that that is practical as a general rule. After a history of trimming sales person comp over the decades why would our industry be attractive to any but the most desperate? Let's face it. Most sales people come into our business to "tread water" while they look for a "real job." We can rose it up all we want but it is what it is. If we stay in denial as an industry nothing will improve. The OEMs have to get wise and dealers need to be realistic. A dealer will spend a fortune on a CRM system while turning over sales staff three times each year.... then wonder why their closing ratio is so low. The more heat they put on staff about closing ratio, the more "selective" is the staff on who gets logged.

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