Tag Archive | "interview"

4 Tips to Hiring The Right Candidate

Hiring the wrong candidate gets costly. From costs incurred by drops in productivity, to reputation costs, hiring the wrong candidates can set your business back in deep and lasting ways, reports Entrepreneur.

Being in the staffing industry for 13 years now in the high volume clerical and light industrial sectors, I’ve seen my fair share of right hires vs. wrong hires. It comes down to four key principles.

1. Let the interview speak for itself.

Ask integrity-based questions, performance-productivity questions, and form them in always open-ended ways. This is your time to get to know the candidate, and to see the important bits: not what they say on paper, but how they react on the spot.

Smartt tip: ask questions from the perspective of your interviewee’s potential coworkers. They are your proverbial canaries in the coal mine, in that they are the most likely to see red flags before management, who don’t work on the ground with a new hire, will. A good candidate will own up to not knowing certain answers, without getting overly self-conscious about the knowledge gap. Overconfidence can sometimes be an important factor, too. Trust your gut.

2. Core values.

Your company has spent a wealth of effort building your mission and vision, and grooming your employees to fit your culture. Making sure your prospective employees are a culture fit is arguably the most important issue to consider on your hires. Candidates with less experience but a deep commitment to your company’s values often learn faster, require less hand holding, and devote themselves with better outcomes than those who aren’t culture fits.

Smartt tip: if you’re having trouble reaching concord with a new hire, talk with your other employees. Ask them questions in the vein of barriers to their own success. If you see correlations, pursue them.

3. Don’t make it all about the paperwork.

You’re fostering a relationship here, not filling out papers. They’re important, and definitely get them filled out, but please do yourself a favor and make the on-boarding process more about getting to know the team, the off-paper processes, and integrating with a new work-family than focusing on a mid-20th century stodgy HR desk experience. You can make sure all the appropriate boxes are checked without losing the humanity in the situation.

4. Productivity matters.

According to Stuart Brown,“the estimated costs of losing an employee vary wildly, from 30% of annual salary, to as much as 200 times annual salary for high level positions.” Consider how confident you feel in how well your new candidate can get up to speed without taxing other workers.

Smartt tip: consider how robust your training materials are, and work toward a seamless integration.

Hiring the right candidate is a better question, really, but it’s much harder to answer. If you can identify “wrong” clearly, you’ll be in a better position to determine what your particular “right” is. Happy hunting!

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An Interview with Matt Croak

AE Magazine had the opportunity to interview Matt Croak, president of Wise F&I, about the history and developments of his company. Wise F&I is an automotive finance and insurance company located in St. Louis, Missouri.

1. Tell me a little bit about your company and its place in the industry?

Wise F&I has been in the industry for over 25 years. We began as a company that sold a single product, which was GAP, and through this process we developed great relationships with agents across the country. Because our prices were competitive, we met state requirements nationally and gave excellent customer service; our clients began requesting that we expand our product offering. We responded to our clients’ suggestions, and today we are one of the primary providers of automotive ancillary products in the marketplace. Our customers include agencies, national lenders and OEMs. Our intention is to always serve our clients by providing them exceptional customer service, innovative technology solutions and industry leadership in order to improve their position in the market.

2. Are there any recent or future developments within your company that you would like to tell us about?

I feel our changes in technology have streamlined our process. We offer online resources through ONWise, our contract administration platform, which includes eContracting, eRemitting and reporting. Through this technology clients have real time access to electronic contract production, remitting payments and additional online resources.

ONWise brings efficiency and accuracy to the contracting process, and through DMS and menu integration we are able to offer our products to more clients.

One of our new products we introduced was WiseCARE, a chemical free appearance care vehicle service contract program. This program is 100% compliant in every state and the coverage benefits include repairs for: paintless dents, cosmetic alloy wheels, windshield and interior and exterior surfaces. Coverage benefits also include emergency roadside assistance with tire road hazard and key replacement.

At Wise F&I, we make the best use of technology to aid in compliance. Our clients are able to manage business transactions in real time, rather than having paper contracts, it is more efficient for them to manage and is more accurate.

Our business is to serve agents, dealers, lenders and OEMs. We do this to the best of our ability and are always looking for ways to better serve our customers. It is our mission to continually strengthen our relationships and be the F&I provider of choice.

3. How did you (personally) get started? What caused you to choose this career path?

My grandfather was the president of American Bankers in the early Seventies (He also served as President of the CCIA). In 1977, he started a business here in St. Louis to be closer to his growing family. At that time, credit insurance was the focus of the business. Later, with a change in company structure, the focus of the business changed to offering GAP to the automotive industry.

When I was in high school, I did internships here in the family business. After college, I worked in automotive sales for dealerships and in the F&I office. I eventually went to the finance side of business with wholesale lending.

Sometime after my grandfather passed away, I learned that my uncle was selling the business. Legacy is very important to me, so in early 2007 I matched an offer to purchase the company and became owner of Wise F&I.

I knew I always belonged in the automotive business. Since becoming the owner of Wise F&I it has been challenging, but also very rewarding. I am excited to see the continued growth and look forward to the years ahead.

4. What are your outside interests/what do you like to do on your days off? What activities/sports are you passionate about?

My family is my top priority. I have a seven-year-old son and an eleven-year-old daughter; both are very involved in sports. As a family, we also enjoy going to Lake of the Ozarks. It is about a two-hour drive from our home. While we are there, we enjoy powerboating, skiing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, and various events that are held there.

I also enjoy playing golf, however at this stage in my life I don’t have much time to play.

5. What are the biggest issues you see facing the industry today and in the future?

There are a number of issues facing the industry. One of the primary challenges is regulation, and not just on the state level, but on a federal level too. The CFPB continues to be a challenge to the automotive finance and insurance industry, and anticipating their next move is difficult.

Through our memberships with SCIC, GAPA and MVAPA we stay at the forefront of regulatory and legislative issues. These associations have a proactive role in the industry and by the growing membership count, they are equally important to many other companies in our space.

From an industry perspective, diligence relative to compliance for every party involved in the transaction is paramount. The reality is that if we can be diligent in our compliance practices as an industry, it is less likely that additional regulation will come our way

6. What advice would you give to someone new to this industry?

This is a tremendous industry with ample opportunity. Good character goes a long way, and I think the people in this industry are typically competent judges of good character. Though our industry is nationwide, it is a small industry to some degree. Everyone knows everyone. My advice to someone new in this industry would be to be honest, be transparent, do the right thing and success will follow.

7. Is there anything else you would like to add?

 In this business you have the ability to create great partnerships not only on a professional level, but also on a personal level. Today I can say that some of my best friends are spread across the country and our friendships started out as business relationships. Treat people well and you will be rewarded personally and in business.


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4 Surprising Questions Great Companies Use to Hire Well

When most people go about the process of hiring on a new employee, they tend to focus on “skill” and “will,” reports Inc. In other words, they look at what skills a person has–like their experience, areas of expertise, and other things they list on their resume–as well as whether that person is willing and interested in working for the company.

But there’s a third category of analysis that most people tend to leave out: culture fit. And frankly, if you want to spend a large amount of your life in contact with them. You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your employees!

While we didn’t know it at the time, the most important thing we ever got graded on back in kindergarten was how well we worked and played with others. The same thing is true when it comes to making great hires.

We all know people who are incredibly bright and competent, but who are also not very nice people. They tend to be selfish and self-absorbed and seem to suck the energy out of the room. You simply don’t want to spend time with them. I call people like this “cultural terrorists” because of the damage they can wreak on an organization. That’s why the best companies do everything they can to avoid hiring these people in the first place.

But how do you know how to assess whether someone is a cultural fit or not?

I’ve found that the companies who do the best job at screening potential hires for cultural fit ask some variation of these four simple questions:

Would I like to have a cocktail with this individual?
The best interviewers begin by asking whether they’d be willing to spend an hour or so talking casually with this person after work. Are they interesting enough to have a conversation with? Or are they difficult to deal with, socially awkward, or even so self-absorbed you can’t get a word in edgewise?

Would I play a round of golf with them?
Golf is not only a great way to spend a day networking and talking shop; it’s also an investment of four to five hours of your time. Is this person someone you’d be willing to ride along in a cart with or even walk beside for that long? If you don’t play golf, substitute, “go to a baseball game” and see if you are excited or thinking of ways to get out of it.

Would you sit next to this person on a flight to Tokyo?
Upping the stakes even higher here, but is this the kind of person you could tolerate chatting with over an 11-hour international flight or would you be tempted to lock them (our yourself) in the bathroom instead?

Would you want this person in your foxhole?
It’s one thing to ask yourself how you might get along with someone in the best of times. But how do you think this person would react to the worst of them? If you found yourself in the middle of a battlefield, say, with bullets and explosions all around you, do you think you could count on this person to watch your back? Will they remain cool and collected or will they freak out and run for the hills? Assessing how someone might react to a stressful situation is critical for every entrepreneur to ask because sooner or later, you’ll be facing that kind of situation in your business. And you’ll want to count on your team to stand their ground no matter what the odds are.

Now if you can answer yes to all four of these questions, and the candidate also passes the skill and will test, what are you waiting for: make the offer!

But, if you hesitated on answering any of these culture fit type questions, and questioned whether you would truly enjoy working with this person, then just say no. After all, life is too short to work with people you don’t like.

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An Interview with Tim Brugh, AAGI’s Executive VP

At the Agent Summit in March, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Tim Brugh, executive vice president of American Auto Guardian, Inc. (AAGI). While handling more of the day to day business operations, Tim is responsible for the sales and marketing functions for AAGI, as well as, overseeing the design and development of new products and marketing materials. Read on as he shares his overview of the company in this Q&A.

Tell us about your company and the products that you offer?

AAGI was established in 1997; we pride ourselves on trying to set a higher standard for the administration of all our products, which consist of AutoGuard® and Wheelz® brands, as well as, Certified Limited Warranty, GAP, Etch, Excess Wear & Tear and other automotive aftermarket products. We strive to be the industry leader for Agents and Dealers across the United States and internationally. Our goal is to provide superior products and personalized service.

How does your product offering differ from other providers?

I’m not sure our products are much different from anyone else’s in the market place. Most of the products in the industry are pretty much equal, each having their own little nuances. While I could point out differences in our products which set them apart from our competitors’ product, I believe it’s our staff that differentiates us. I know it sounds like a cliché, but our employees really do try to figure out how they can help our agents, dealers, and customers; as opposed to saying NO first followed by how can I help you. At the end of the day it’s one of those things you just have to experience with us.

Who are your target markets and what messages would you like to give them?

We are an agent focused company that relies on agents to generate our business, so agents are our target market. As an administrator, we have more than a few people to keep happy in the sales stream of our products: the dealer, the customer who buys our products, service manager, F&I manager, parts manager, insurance companies, states and lenders. Each entity is equally important, but without our agents we would never have the opportunity to make all these people happy. We believe we understand what the agents go through and we will do “whatever it takes” to help them grow their business. We have a saying at AAGI “WE SUCCEED ONLY WHEN YOU DO!”

What products do you believe will drive your future success?

My goal is to introduce several new AAGI products in the fourth quarter of this year. We are also working on a new type of retro that we hope to roll out to the agents sometime third quarter. Early market tests show the new retro program as a game changer for our agents. We will be rolling out, at our product launch in April, AAGI’s Performance Services. AAGI Performance Services is run by Jeff Teuscher, our VP of Sales. Jeff has developed an agent certification course which takes an agent through all of our products and processes. Additionally, Jeff will oversee a five day F&I school taught by Gerry Gould of UDS. The AAGI Menu is also being introduced in April. AAGI’s Menu is a multi-layer system with dealership integration, menu tracking, and F&I data reporting, just to name a few of the system capabilities. However, our VSC is what has driven the company for the last 15 years and will drive us into the future. I have several thoughts and ideas on how to change our VSC for the future, it will be unlike any other VSC in the market place but everyone will have to wait until spring of 2013 to see if it is truly unlike anyone else’s.

What technology or services do you believe will drive your future success?

I think anyone selling or marketing F&I products had better partner or develop an e – rating, e – contracting, and e – reporting system that integrates with the DMS if they want to stay ahead of their competition. We are getting ready to launch our new QR 360 electronic system to our agent base in Chicago, IL April 11-12 of this year. The QR360 will be introduced to about 100 agents during our product launch. The new QR360, which is what we are calling our new e -system, has several features, most importantly, it is a web-based system that anyone with internet access can access. The user would go to our website @ www.AAGI.com to get a quote on any of the products we administer. This web version will allow them to e – rate, e – print, and e – submit their contracts through our website. If an agent is using one of the 16 menu companies that we already have integration with, or if they have a menu company that has integration capabilities, we can incorporate our rating and contracts so the dealership can utilize AAGI’s QR360. The QR360 also has the capability to integrate directly with several DMS’s. In conjunction with the launch of our e – system, we will also introduce three mobile apps. The first of these agent apps will allow them to view the production of their dealerships utilizing one of our QR360 tools. The second agent app will be an I-Pad app that will allow agents to make their AAGI product presentation; the I-Pad app will have signature capability. Agents will be able to review the documents need for setup and have the dealers sign right on their I-Pad. They will then have the ability to email those documents to our office, making the process of signing a new dealership completely paperless. Agents will receive any correspondence coming from AAGI through this app. The third app will be for customers buying our products. The customer app will give the contract holder detailed contract information, as well as, dealership information. Information such as the address, phone numbers for service and sales; AAGI’s phone number for questions and claims, and the number for roadside assistance if their contract includes this feature. The theory behind the customer app is simple, everyone has their phone at their fingertips, but might not have the necessary documents or phone numbers handy when they under duress. By having the mobile app on their phone, a person will feel more secure in the event of a breakdown while on the road or even if it is simply that their car won’t start in the morning. We are always looking to better a customer’s experience with AAGI and the dealership.

Tell us about yourself and the path that lead you to AAGI.

Let’s see my first job in the car business was at the age of 23, I started selling cars in Logansport, IN where I grew up. After selling cars for a couple of years I got the opportunity to become an F&I Manager at a Ford – Chrysler/Dodge store. Due to the fact that the dealership was a smaller store, it gave me the opportunity to learn several other jobs in the dealership. I was given the chance to work the desk, appraise used cars, and even write a little service. That Ford – Chrysler/Dodge store gave me incredible insight on how a dealership actually runs. The next step paved the way to what is now my present career path. It came from a company that had its own its administration, direct sales force, along with owning its own P&C and life insurance company. Their company focus was on signing up dealers through a direct sales force and teaching income development in the F&I office. By signing and servicing over 30 stores in the central part of Indiana and Ohio, I learned what a dealership really needs when it comes to customer service. That brings us to AAGI. In 1997 Al Ranieri, who is the founder of AAGI, gave me the opportunity of a lifetime making me the National Sale Manager. Although, I had no experience calling on agents, Al saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. Over the last 15 years I have been given the opportunity to become an owner of AAGI and learn from the best in the business how to run a successful administration company.

We all need to take a break from the day to day operations of business, are there any interests or hobbies you would like to share with our readers?

I am married and have three great kids and an incredible wife that keeps me grounded. One of my greatest satisfactions is watching my children grow up; I‘m always asking myself the question– Are you teaching them the right things? So watching my children become young adults and learning to be responsible for their actions is my greatest interest. Although, laughing with my wife and family brings the much needed stress relief!

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An Interview with David Trinder, CEO of F&I Administration Solutions

Agent Entrepreneur had the opportunity to catch up with David Trinder, CEO of F&I Administration Solutions, about the technology that is influencing the industry. Trinder’s company is expanding the use of technology for general agents (GA), making things possible today that were not before. As agents, you have a tremendous opportunity with these new tools. Technology plays a major role in the business world today, and most importantly, the way business will be done in the future. The agents who embrace it will separate themselves from the rest.

Tell us about your company? And, specifically, what products do you offer and how can they add value to/for the GA?

Trinder: We deliver the leading solution for the administration of F&I products including VSC, GAP, PPM, Appearance Protection, Theft and more. Our SCS Express offers a turnkey solution for quickly setting up products, dealers and rates so that they can be eRated, eContracted and eRemitted via the private-labeled DAP dealer portal or through any of the top 15 menu and other dealer systems available today. We also facilitate data transfer so contracts can be transmitted to multiple providers and/or carriers that an agent typically works with. Further, since SCS is a complete administration system, should an agent want to administer products, this solution will deliver to their every need.

Looking back over the past few years, how has this changed?

Trinder: Technology has changed everything. A few years ago, it was too expensive for an agent to consider taking on product administration. Now, with the internet and our SaaS model, not only is it affordable, but it will make you more connected to dealers and more efficient than many of the top administration companies are today.

As an industry expert, what advice can you give our GA readers to make themselves more valuable to their dealerships?

Trinder: Embrace technology. Don’t let yourself or your dealer get left behind. It is mainly through the use of technology that dealers will save costs while growing their business.

What products do you see performing well right now? What products do you think will be “Hot” in the future?

Trinder: Over the last year or so, all product sales have risen. In particular, we see an increase in products that offer broader coverage in a single transaction, either because they are presented as a package via a menu or other eRating tool, or because they are innovatively packaged into a single product with multiple benefits. An example of this would be a combination of Dent, Ding, Appearance Protection and Windshield protection into a single product that is branded uniquely. Also growing are products that provide customers more flexible choices in terms and coverages that are offered. An example would be VSCs that are sold for 37 or 49 months, rather than the traditional 36, 48, 60, 72 months thereby giving the F&I Manager more ways to tailor the product to a particular customer’s budget and needs.

F&I Admin has been at the forefront of mobile technology. Can you give our readers an update on your current mobile apps and any apps you have coming? How will this help the independent agent?

Trinder: Independent agents who are selling products that are managed on an F&I Admin system will soon be able to receive real time data on dealer sales volumes and much more. A GA can do a much better job on a dealer visit if they know how many quotes were done and contracts signed by that dealer that day, week or month.

Looking back over the last 5 years, how has the industry changed and how do you see it changing in the future?

Trinder: Five years ago, with the exception of the DMS and electronic credit apps, technology played a minor part in the F&I office. Now there are sales tools and many other systems that add great value to the process. Look for better integration of products in the future and expect data at your fingertips through mobile devices.

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The Internship as Extended Interview

Ever walk away from interviewing a potential employee, wondering if you just met the perfect match for your company or someone who’s simply great at interviews? I do. Interviews tell very little about a possible hire’s character, work habits, and personality. In a half-hour, you may be impressed by the strengths they flaunt, but learn little about how they might contribute to—and mesh with—your company. That’s why it’s vitally important to take advantage of the internship process.

It’s easy to think of internships as cheap or free labor drawn from a revolving pool of students you’ll never see after the semester ends. But internships are win-win situations for business owners—and a resource you should profit from. These students are looking for real-world experience and you’ve got months to evaluate intangibles that would never surface in an interview.

The key to effectively assessing those intangibles is not letting the interns know they’re on an extended interview. Observe where each intern’s talents and passions lie, carefully not pigeonholing any individual. In the months an intern is with your company, you’ll glimpse such qualities as attention to detail, enthusiasm, and follow-up. These are the types of core personality traits that are hardest to detect in a simple job interview.

You may very well wind up with lazy interns who are best-suited to collate papers and remove staples. That’s fine. You now know you wouldn’t want to hire them and you can be happy you didn’t. Then there are the eager, motivated, professional interns who want to learn and earn a spot with your company when they graduate. These are the new employees you’re confident in hiring—and they’ve already got experience with your company.

This article was written by Jim Belosic and published in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.

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