Hiring for Your Dealership’s Parts Department

By Sara Hey

Not just anyone can be picked up off the street and be placed at the parts counter. This important position requires a mix of customer service, technical knowledge, sales ability and attention to detail. So, when your dealership is in need of the mystical parts person, how and where do you find them?

One thing always seems to be true: It feels like there are never enough candidates to go around. Here, I’ll address a few ways to search for – and, hopefully, find – the best parts-counter candidate for your dealership.

‘Hire low and grow’

One way dealerships can look for employees is by utilizing job recruiter sites – CareerBuilder, Indeed, Monster, ZipRecruiter, etc. Job recruiter sites are much like using Google for a specific function. They all use search engine optimization (SEO) to match a job seeker with a job. That simply means this: You use additional words or phrases to make sure that your webpage – or job posting, in this case – comes up as many times as possible.

This is exactly what you want to have happen when using job recruiter sites. The goal is to use words or phrases for the same position that crosses over into other industries. For example, suppose you’re looking for a parts counter salesperson. In this case, you could use words or phrases such as: automotive, auto, auto sales, auto parts, dealer and dealership; you could even use cities or nicknames of areas around your location, or even list the brands/lines that you carry.

Of course you want to find the best possible candidates – but it’s often not who you think it might be. I also encourage dealers to make sure you let people know you are hiring. This isn’t just limited to your employees; let your friends and family know, too. You never know when someone is looking for a change or may have a move coming up. The more you can share that you are hiring, the better your chance of finding the right person.

I often talk about how it’s important to “hire low and grow” when looking for good employees. This can certainly hold true for a parts counter salesperson, too. For example, if I wanted to hire low and grow a parts counter salesperson, I might hire a mom whose kids had just started school and now wanted to get back into the workforce. Having her put away the stocking order and do inventory counts would help the process for your parts department, and simultaneously be training her to be a parts counter salesperson one day.

You can’t train attitude

As you’re thinking about specific ways to find a new counter parts salesperson, one tactic is to look at other places you do business. This could be your kids’ pediatrician office, a restaurant that you are a regular at, or just about anywhere that you have had a great customer-service experience. Think of it this way: You can train skills, but you can’t train attitude. That’s important because, often, your parts counter is the first experience your customers have with your dealership.

Recently, a big warehouse chain closed more than 100 stores across the country; each store employed over 100 people. These are managers, people who do inventory, and people who are trained to provide excellent customer service. Being aware of business news like this in your area and region gives you the ability to hire the best of the best from these companies when a transition happens.

People coming out of the military can be great additions to your parts department as well. The military has people who are solely responsible for doing inventory for different divisions. These would be great people to have in your parts department. Your local military veteran’s resource center should be able to connect you with the right people.

When you’re in the midst of needing a parts person, it’s easy to think any warm body will do. But take the time to find the right person, and they will help you grow your department to new levels.

Sara Hey is vice president of business development at Bob Clements International (www.bobclements.com); contact her at sara@bobclements.com or 800/480-0737. This article first appeared in the September 2021 issue of OPE Business.

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