29 Aug

You have to dig for diamonds; they don’t float to the top.

It takes a little work to find the right people to staff your BHPH dealership. One of the keys to success at a DCF dealership rests on the ability of the dealership’s personnel to establish a friendly relationship with the customers. Much of that will depend on the attitude they have towards the customers. If you and your staff view your customers as inferior or bad, you will have a difficult time, both in sales and collections.

Dealership personnel must be committed to the belief that over 90% of the dealership’s customers are honest and good people. The vast majority of your prospective customers will be in a poor financial situation for reasons that they did not or could not control. We have all heard the expression, “bad things happen to good people”. Family sickness, divorce, job layoffs, overspending due to “easy credit”, major casualty losses, or a total lack of financial self control are conditions that all dealership employees should and must understand.

As the dealership grows and the loan portfolio increases, you will need to hire additional employees. At some point you are going to have to make the decision whether every employee will handle all job responsibilities at the dealership or whether you are going to separate certain functions and have your staff specialize in certain areas, i.e., sales, collections, etc. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Having all employees responsible for both selling and collections gives the customer a single point of contact throughout the term of their loan or lease. It also ensures an employee will consider all the needs of the dealership. If the employee who handles the sale or lease may also be the person who works collections on their account, they are more likely to collect all the information needed to collect the account at the start of the transaction. An employee collecting accounts will also take into account future sales and referrals when handling a customer’s collection issues.

Separating the sales and collections functions also has some advantages. A salesperson or a collector can concentrate on that function and the knowledge and techniques required to be an expert in that area. A great salesperson and a great collector will have different personalities; some people are more suited to one job that the other.

In searching for new employees, you must find the person that will work best with your customer base. All employees must be able to communicate with the customers without being condescending and be someone that understands the customer’s problems. You should concentrate more on the person’s personality and the quality of their character rather than the quantity of his work experience. Your customers want to be respected; look for people that will respect them. The time demands of the job vary from day to day; even hour to hour. Their job responsibilities may require occasional work after the dealership closes. Make sure the candidate you select understands this and is not expecting a 9 to 5 job.

Hiring people from the retail auto industry or from the consumer finance industry is not necessary. In fact, both should generally be avoided. Car salespeople have been taught to make every sale possible, make as much gross profit and are used to being paid by commission. To be successful, your DCF dealership should do none of these things. People with financing backgrounds have been trained to weed out your customers and turn them down. Typically, they will have a very poor perception of your average customer. It is very difficult to change an ingrained attitude and approach to business. Their preconceived ideas can block the understanding of the goals that need to be achieved in order to succeed in this marketplace. The more experience a new employee has in either of these businesses; the more difficult it may be to train him.

There are businesses that serve the same customer base as your DCF dealership. Rent-To-Own furniture stores or check cashing businesses can be a good source of employees. They will already have a relationship established with many of your customers. Many dealerships have found excellent employees from within their customer base itself. Your customers certainly already know how your program works. The sales clerk that gives extra service is a candidate. The person who is employed in a menial job and yet still does it with pride and professionalism is the kind of person you are looking for.  Keep your eyes and your mind open.

When selecting a new employee, it is important to remember that frequent changes in personnel reflects badly on the lot and can make your customers anxious. It is difficult to build close customer relationships with continual changes. Customers may become concerned with the lack of continuity in customer relations.

Take the time necessary to choose the right person for the job. You may have to dig deep to find the right person but, with the right training, you may find a diamond.