Looking for a job that will allow you to work 40 hours a week and be home every night in time to cook dinner for the kids?
If you are, don't apply for a car sales position.
When he is looking for salespeople, Jack Price, owner of University Motors in Albuquerque, N.M., makes it clear that selling cars is not an ordinary job. Price thinks his up-front, candid attitude has helped him find and keep the best salespeople in the area.
University Motors sells Volkswagen, Mazda and Saab vehicles.
'I have two sales managers and a general manger who screen the applicants,' he explains.
'We're looking for highly motivated people who can be team players, part of our family,' he adds, 'but once we hire them, we try to create a good environment. I'm not going to work them to death. Most applicants know this is not a 40-hour-a-week job, but I'm not going to demand 70 hours. I don't want them to get burned out.'
Flexibility also is a key in Price's overall plan to keep good staff.
'If someone has to be off to go to their kid's soccer tournament, they can trade off with another staff member,' he says. 'That's what I mean by being part of the family.'
A 10-day training program also is part of Price's strategy for keeping sales personnel. The new staff members are taught the company's philosophy, which is weighted heavily toward customer satisfaction.
Attention to the individual staff member doesn't stop with screening, hiring and training, however. Price has instigated a continuing program of staff relations.
'We meet with each salesperson one-on-one three times a week in a nonconfrontational environment to assist them on follow-up with customers, or sometimes just to find out what's going on in their life,' Price says. 'If someone hasn't sold a car in, say, 10 days, I want to know if something is going on personally, or if they're just not working at it.'
SIMPLE PAY PLAN
An equitable, simple compensation plan also helps keep the sales staff happy, Price believes.
'I hear horror stores of people who left other jobs because they felt they were cheated by the dealership,' Price says. 'That's usually because the dealership has some screwball pay plan that's hard to understand. I mean, things like you have to sell two apples and three oranges to get the bonus. We don't have any of that stuff.'
Price says his compensation system is 'just common sense based on sales and customer satisfaction.' Customer satisfaction brings healthy bonuses for Price's staff.
Price makes it clear to his staff he likes to promote from within, and when a salesperson has a chance to move to a higher position with another dealership, Price sends him or her off with his blessing.
Price's 10-person sales staff includes one who has been on board for more than 12 years; one for more than eight years; and several for more than four years; as well as a few who have been there two to three years; and a sales manager who has been with University Motors for 23 years.
In his usual candid manner, Price admits outside forces sometimes have as much to do with sales staff attrition or retention as his own efforts.
'I've been in this business for 40 years, and I've seen things change,' he says.
'When I started, Volkswagens were the hottest thing in town; then we hit a slump for several years. It was hard to keep sales staff then, but Volkswagen made a turnaround, and sales are good now. That makes a difference.'