News, views & analysis blogs by: Richard Keeney

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Richard Keeney :
"Every Garden Will Be Invaded" - Protect the New Hires!


Richard Keeney :
I remember going to a mandatory personal development seminar long ago, one that I benefited from greatly. Yet, I can’t deny my first thoughts about going…

“After 12 hours of working deals and putting out fires, I have to go where? And listen to who? For how long?!”

Anyway, in what turned out to be an excellent seminar, the facilitator stated, “Every garden will be invaded… not to think so would be naïve.”

I found myself reflecting on that statement due to the recent quantity of salesperson recruiting ads both online and in the local paper.

The purpose of this message is simple: I believe it is healthy for managers to evaluate the experience a new employee might have at your dealership upon arrival, especially for the first 90 days or so. And a big part of this evaluation involves analyzing the impact other employees will have on the new team member´s perception of the industry. We need to make certain that we don´t have "garden invaders" disrupting our mission of building the ultimate team. As is too often the case, many of us have witnessed the execution of new salespeople by those already on board, just trying to help of course…

“Excuse me, you want me to share a limited number of “ups” with someone who, if he does exactly what management instructs him to, will do well, therefore making us look bad?… I thought we were running this place.”
“Oh please, let me help this kid. I can handle this. I’ll tell him what he needs to know. I have a good amount of spare time on my hands and I owe this new kid some awareness about weak banks, slow F&I people, packs, pencil-whipped commissions, unpredictable income, the kook that orders new cars, the water in the used car department and of course the divorce rates of salespeople due to long hours and unpredictable income.”
“Oh, I almost forgot. We need to teach him the wisdom of a skipped demo and the 5 liner application before he wastes too much of his valuable time on someone with bad credit or some unrealistic jack leg. I bet I can have him trained and even talking just like me in about 30 days. That is, if he doesn’t blow out like most of them, and it still puzzles me as to why they leave so quickly.”

Yeah, I know, I‘m being cynical. But maybe it’s time to assess some things:

o Are we putting our best foot forward with new team members?
o Are we being truly supportive?
o Are we providing the sort of experience that lets new team members know the decision to come on board was a great decision, indeed?
o Are we making sure there are not people who are “invading the garden?”

Please remember: In the absence of a well thought-out plan, the garden (his head), will indeed be invaded.

Develop a plan for quick and frequent monitoring of their progress. Guide their perception of this career opportunity. Build their morale and right the sails before one steers too far off course.

“You must pull the weeds out early, before they take root,” said the facilitator of that seminar, “They´re always easier to pull in the earlier stages.”

Therefore, be sure your 1-on-1 feedback sessions begin as soon as possible. Keep your finger on the pulse and never assume all is peachy. Good people are still hard to find…

Speaking of brand new salespeople, here’s a question worth considering…

What can a new salesperson expect?

• Proper orientation to the facility?
• A meeting with all department heads?
• A clearly defined job description? (Another reason for a written and signed off on “Sales Process”)
• A thorough understanding of dealership standards, including productivity, dress code and conduct?
• Great foundational sales training?
• Ongoing training that’s well-structured and productive?
• Support from all on the sales team?
• Professional and encouraging treatment at the sales desk? (I know the “new-puppy” fatigue)
• Respectful treatment from the main office, accounting, etc…?
• The opportunity to earn enough money (in their view). Do you even know what they need?
• Supervisory support regarding their individual goals?
• Patience from the management team?
• Adequate time off, some balance in life?
• Frequent constructive feedback from management?
1-on-1 sessions with management?
• A management team that works well together?
• Motivation?
• Good dealership morale?
• Fair disbursement of leads?
• Someone to keep them challenged?
• Opportunity for advancement?

I recommend we investigate these matters as a management team and shore up any areas that could use improvement.

Thank you and remember… I invite your call should you desire a chat.

Richard Keeney
251-680-6633 (cell)

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