Best Practices

Make Your Dealership a Gen Y Hiring Magnet: Part 1

image of GenY at the Dealership

Making Your Dealership a Gen Y Hiring Magnet

In my last article “Why You Should WANT Gen Y Workers in your Dealership“, I talked about why you should want to hire Gen Y. Now, I’ve created a three-part series to tell you how to actually do it. When it comes to making your dealership a Gen Y hiring magnet, many things may spring to mind: free puppies, a vegan taco bar, an Xbox Kinect. And frankly, my answer is yes, yes, and yes. But if you don’t have the hook-up on French bulldogs, don’t despair. Reaching my generation is really a simple matter of messaging. Appeal to our earnest generational ideals, and we’ll be lining up like your dealership is a Lady Gaga concert.

Three Messages to Include In Your Next Craigslist Ad

Escape. Blame our helicopter parents, movies like American Beauty, or the Choose Your Own Adventurebooks we read as kids. However you justify it, mine is a disillusioned generation. Traditional marketing doesn’t work on us. Job security? A straitjacket preventing us from spontaneous backpacking trips to Morocco. Assets? Manacles chaining us to a choice-less future. The American Dream? Picket fences and Priuses don’t mix. My generation is all about options, innovation, and uncharted paths. Therefore, the simple fact that a car dealership job provides an alternative from the 9 to 5 grind is in itself a point worthy of emphasis. Messaging to try:

  • “Trade stale office air for the smell of exotic leather”
  • “Trade a cube farm for a candy store”
  • “Did you get the memo that traditional office jobs suck your soul?”

Excitement. The car business offers the potential for fun thrills, sex appeal, and pumping adrenaline that many jobs do not. After all, who wants to file paperwork and collate copies all day when you could be driving fast cars, earning crazy commissions, and hobnobbing with interesting people in a high-stakes, fast-paced business? Hey, it worked for Wall Street. Messaging to try:

  • “Drive expensive cars for a living”
  • “Your morning coffee shouldn’t be the most exciting thing that happens to you today”
  • “Where your office includes Italian leather, heated seats and 400 horsepower”

Entrepreneurship. Gen Y’ers are proud proponents of the dual passion economy. What this means is that most of us reside in twin worlds, balancing our day jobs and our dream jobs. Every Gen Y’er has a moonlight gig of some kind: rock band, mystery novel, Etsy store, iPhone app idea. To support our true passions, many of us turn to manual labor jobs like waitressing and bartending. To lure Gen Y, emphasize that a job at a car dealership offers the same flexibility, better financial opportunity, and a cushier gig than greasy food service gigs. Messaging to Try:

  • “Trapped in the Waitress/Actress Cliché? Here’s a Way Out”
  • “Bartending is No Longer the Best Side Gig in Town”
  • “Make Money on YOUR Schedule -No Dancing Hot Dog Costume Required!”

And if you could manage one soy beef taco with extra lettuce and avocado while you’re at it, my generation and I would really appreciate it.

Jade Makana is the Senior Social Media Analyst at ADP Digital Marketing. Jade specializes in bringing corporate brands to life through emerging media....
Nicely written Jade. Somebody has to play the Devil's Advocate though, so I'm going to "fix" a couple of your messages, tongue firmly placed in cheek of course. Tell me what you think.

“Did you get the memo that traditional office jobs suck your soul? Did
you also get the stack of bills you are going to need to pay at the end
of the month? From those there is NO escape!"

I'm personally all about avoiding the 9-5 Grind; I'm also all about an employee's realization that work is hard BEFORE I invest a substantial amount of time and energy training them.  Call it a career all you want, but whatever it takes to pay the bills is what it takes to pay the bills. Desire to escape doesn't fit well with my ideal of buckle down and do, especially when it is hard.

“Your morning coffee shouldn’t be the most exciting thing that happens to you today, but it just might be the most enjoyable."

I love the car business and it can be exciting, but... let's face it, sometimes the really exciting things aren't a whole lot of fun. Would you use the word exciting to describe running from a bear? Great analogy for sales here, you don't have to be faster than the bear, you DO have to be faster than the other guy running from the bear. One of you won't be here next month...

Entrepreneurship:“Bartending is No Longer the Best Side Gig in Town, it is however the ONLY gig in town where you can hang out at a bar all day”

This is why I chose to reply. It's a damn grown-up thing to realize that your dream job might never happen and you need to apply yourself fully to the job you have at the time. I am NEVER going to be a fighter pilot. It's time to get my head out of the clouds and do work that I CAN do and do my best to enjoy it. The moment I came to the realization that I wasn't Maverick I got a lot more successful at my REAL job.

You have to pay your dues. Going to go out on a limb here and say that experience is more valuable than education in the workplace. Borrowing this from Gary Vaynerchuk. It's like pushups, reading about pushups, thinking about pushups, studying the mechanics of pushups, all of this is a lot different than DOING pushups. Gen A through Y all need a healthy dose of reality as we enter the workplace. It's called a WORK-place for a reason. I'll take 1 former server with restaurant experience because they needed the money over 10 people that chose not to take that job because they thought it was somehow beneath them. That server that needed the money knows how to do pushups.

  • J
    Jon Quade
  • August 23, 2011

While I respect your take,
Ryan, I think you’re missing Jade’s larger point: we have to change the culture in dealerships if we are to make working
there more attractive to Gen Y’ers.


Of course you have insight
into ‘dealership reality,’ and so do I. The point is, a preexisting ‘running
from the bear’ mentality does nothing to attract new talent to your sales or
service force. And, contrary to your inference, the act of working is not
itself a turn-off to Gen Y; they just have to be engaged and enthused about the
work. If you can make your dealership more attractive to them, you’ll have the
luxury of choosing the best fit among multiple applicants. To that end, Jade doesn’t
say not to be selective in choosing new hires (because you should), but if they never even consider your dealership when
they’re looking for employment, you won’t get a shot at them.


Lastly, selling vehicles and
writing service has nothing to do with doing pushups. You are welcome to hire
people with prior experience, but you better define why they left the previous
gig. I always wanted to hire superstars, but true superstars seldom leave their
jobs. Generally, I would prefer to suffer a 1 or 2 month learning curve with an
inexperienced Gen Y’er than inherit someone else’s problem child.


The bottom line is this: Gen
Y’ers will make up 40% of the buying population in 2012, and to be most
effective, your staff needs to reflect your buying audience.

I loved your quotes, though!

Hey John,

I sure hope that it didn't come across negatively. It was intended to be lighthearted for sure and I agree with almost everything you said.

About pushups though, it has everything to do with it. I totally agree with you on learning curve in a new industry. I wasn't talking about hiring folks with industry experience that forget you have to mow the grass even if it is greener. We need to separate the doers from the dreamers in our screening process. I was actually being very specific about servers in a restaurant that are doers. We've all had that dynamite server that would make an absolute killing selling cars. She's the one that talks you into dessert when you didn't finish your meal. That skillset transfers well. She has demonstrated the aptitude to succeed and the attitude of a doer, because she's already doing.

In service a pushup is a proper walkaround, every time. Just knowing that I should do it and how to do it isn't adding any lines to my RO if I'm NOT doing it. In Sales, the pushup is follow up, and appropriately, you get a lot stronger at it with every repetition. ;)
  • J
  • August 23, 2011
Ryan-Love your tongue-in-cheek ads! Too bad I don't actually work in a dealership or I would challenge you to a friendly Craigslist duel;)

Quade-It's absolutely true that we Gen Y'ers are willing to work hard as long as we are enthused and engaged. I think a lot of people seem to think motivating their employees is optional or an excessive request, but I think it should be mandatory. I bet there are a lot of Baby Boomers out there who would also appreciate a little more motivation in their jobs. I seem to remember reading something about an ice cream machine on this site not too long ago...
  • J
  • August 24, 2011
Boomer?  I'm not that old... but I do prefer vanilla over Jazzy Choco Fudge-A-Rific Chunk :)
Wow ! what an nice blog.Thanks for sharing this information.Your information is really informative for us.

Keep sharing more & more.....
  • L
    Larry Lea
  • August 26, 2011
Jade I understand the point you are trying to make I am just having a hard time reconciling the Gen Y attitude with certain personal/professional beliefs I have.
Chief among them is that successful people are successful because they do what others deem as hard or boring. At what point does a Gen Y'er as you've described in your articles put the time in to build a pipeline for instance without getting bored and moving on?
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • August 27, 2011
Poor GenY gets little love here on DealerRefresh. What gives? :(

Jade, this was a great article and it got me thinking. It actually inspired me to write an article myself on Hiring at the Dealership that I'll post in the next few days. Not only did it get my own creative juices flowing but you encouraged me to go back to a live job post I have on Careerbuilder and reword the title and some of the description. Thanks!

I think GenY offers many valuable traits that can benefit any dealership or organization. Typically they're more "techy" - what dealership do you know can benefit from that? Heck - most dealership employees are still one fingering the keyboard and trying to hook up printers using a serial port.

I also love that fact that they are usually always "turned on". No, they're not the typical 9-5'r but then again most of us on the sales side don't even know what 9-5 is. GenY's are glued to their IM's and emails. Lets get thing moving forward with quick responses - it's not your typical 48 hour response you sometimes get from the sales and general managers. That's always a welcome change.

I also enjoy their energy. Not sure if that's a GenY trait or the fact that they're just younger.

I'd surround myself with GenY all day long if given the opportunity.

Jade, I'm looking forward to the next Part 2!

  • J
  • August 29, 2011
Jeff Kershner: "I'd surround myself with GenY all day long if given the opportunity."

Welp, quit your job, move back in with your parents, and hang-out at Starbucks all day, and you'll have your wish.  But no one will notice you, 'cuz everyone will have their faces buried in their smartphone. :)
  • J
  • August 29, 2011




Thanks, everyone, for your comments. You are all entitled to
you opinion, but I do feel like I would be doing my generation a disservice if
I do not make one thing clear: I never, ever said Gen Y’ers don’t value hard
work. In fact, the thesis of my last article was: “Gen Y’ers have a
deep, unquenchable thirst for challenging work.”


What I find interesting is that people in these threads seem
to be using hard work and boring work interchangeably. In my experience, it’s
the opposite. Hard work IS generally exciting, challenging, and entrepreneurial.
Boring work is generally “easy” work: repetitive tasks, manual labor, etc. When
I talk about boring work, I’m talking about mindless, repetitive tasks. It is
the opinion of my generation that our time (and everyone’s time) is better
spent on tasks that require a brain.


On that note, here’s another piece of Gen Y advice: If you
want to become Gen Y hiring magnet, forget about pay, forget about titles,
forget about benefits. Instead focus wholeheartedly on ways to remove tedium
from your daily work environment. Sound crazy? That’s exactly the strategy one
top Gen Y hiring magnet has already employed to wild success. Without further
ado, let’s talk about robots.


One can hardly think of a more quintessentially Gen Y
company than Zappos. Why? The pay is crap, the benefits are so-so, and who
wants to spend their day selling shoes online in Nevada? Answer: we all do. Why? For one
thing, it’s because Zappos is clearly committed to removing tedium from the
workplace. So much so that the company invested in a fleet of bright orange
robots to handle the most tedious part of daily tasks: order fulfillment.


Bottom line: Do Gen Y’ers want to work hard? Yes. Do we want
to spend the day collating and stapling paper and organizing them into piles? No,
and we don’t think you should have to either. The real way to become a Gen Y
hiring magnet? Forget about pay, forget about benefits, and start thinking
seriously how you can incorporate your own version of “little orange robots”
into your dealership.


And for the record, Jeff, if I see you at Starbucks, I
promise to notice you.

  • D
  • January 15, 2012
Stumbled across this Gey Y infographic - check it out.