Since 2011, Siddiqui has hired about 15 people who had worked for other nearby AutoNation stores. Eight are still with the 67-employee dealership; that number was 10 before two longtime staffers left last month. Six of the store's 14 salespeople are transfers.
While not everyone has made it, transferred employees tend to stay longer and perform better than the people Siddiqui hires off the street. In sales, for instance, they are selling at least three more cars a month than traditional hires, he said. And they also stay for six months to a year longer.
The keys to their success: giving them attention and building their confidence.
"In bigger stores with a lot of salespeople, some people get lost in there," said Siddiqui, 46. "So what we did was try to get one-on-ones with everybody, give them attention and TLC to make sure they're successful. I went and closed deals for them. That way they feel confident that we are there to help them. Once they got that confidence, they were more independent."
Some also are better working at a smaller store with a heavy concentration of subprime customers and used-vehicle sales. The store sells about 25 new cars a month, plus 120 used vehicles as the Houston center for AutoNation's Value Vehicle Outlet, which specializes in selling lower-priced, older vehicles that otherwise might be sent to auctions.