- Tucson's Royal Kia rarely hires salespeople from other dealerships. Instead it recruits its salespeople from local retail stores and a nearby university.
- The sales staff isn't on commission and never has been.
- Since revamping its hiring process, employee turnover has dropped, sales have increased and customer-service scores have climbed.
TUSCON, Arizona — Five years ago, Royal Kia in Tucson, Arizona decided it needed to revamp its in-store sales process. It did a number of things to make car buying easier. There are clear pricing labels on the cars. Shoppers get an easy-to-read printout that displays the total out-the-door price of a vehicle as well as a few finance and lease options to consider. There's a faster sales process and the introduction of a 72-hour car buy-back policy that provides options for buyers who are reconsidering the cars they bought.
But Royal Kia knew that it needed more than a fresh process to achieve success, says Todd Helmick, the dealership's operations director. The key to the retooled sales process was the people who would be serving customers.
"Your sales staff has to be fully committed for this to work," Helmick says. "You can't just go through the motions. This is something everybody has to believe in."
To get the kind of people best able to execute the new sales style, the store began to look outside of the car business. Hiring salespeople from other car dealerships is a common auto industry practice, but it's not what Royal Kia does now.
Instead, the dealership recruits its new hires from service-based businesses, such as restaurants and electronics stores. The dealership has also found success in recruiting students from the nearby University of Arizona for jobs and internships. Hemlick says the dealership screens approximately 50 people for each new hire.
"Recruiting is a very in-depth area we are constantly trying to figure out," he says. "We want to attract people that are happily employed wherever they are, but who want to get to the next level.
"Usually, attracting people from the retail, restaurant or customer service industry works well," Hemlick says. "There is an immediate bump in pay and usually greater room for growth than where they were."
More than 75 percent of the store sales staff had never sold cars before arriving at
Royal Kia. The other salespeople are industry veterans — but ones who have fully bought into the new style of selling. The sales staff receives salary, not commission.
"We wanted a sales team that views customer service in a way that better suits today's shoppers," Hemlick says. "We have found the investment in being selective at first gives us a huge advantage in the long run."
Spending the time to recruit and hire the right people seems to be paying dividends for the dealership and its customers. Since introducing the new sales program and hiring processes, employee turnover has dropped and sales have increased.
But most importantly, customer service scores have risen. Royal Kia now has some of the highest ratings and reviews in the state — a great measure of success for any business.
Edmunds says: Understanding that sales processes are only as valuable as the staff implementing them, Royal Kia is a good example of the dealerships that are spending time and effort to recruit better-trained, service-minded salespeople.