Stretching the truth, embellishing, fibbing, exaggerating, fine print, or just flat out lying, whatever you want to call it, straying from absolute, 100% full disclosure is something we encounter in our Industry on a daily basis.  Are you truthful with your customers, employees, co-workers, vendors, etc?  And for that matter, should you be 100% open with them?

In the world of help wanted advertising there is an enormous amount of gray area when it comes to full disclosure.  On one hand, it is vital to place as many “hooks” in a help wanted ad as possible, but on the other hand if these “hooks” are complete fabrications then they aren’t really “hooks” at all.  Just lies.  So where’s the line?  And how do you effectively walk that line without lying to job applicants?

I have encountered the full gamut of answers in regard to these questions while working with Dealership Managers.  I have heard, “Just put whatever you think will get the most people,” and I have heard, “I don’t want to put earning potential in the ad because it’s misleading.”  The TRUTH is, the answer lies somewhere in between those 2 statements.  The ad needs teeth, it needs specifics, it needs POP!  But, you can’t just flat out make stuff up.  Let’s use the example of earning potential: Say you have a solid sales team, not great, but good, they are averaging around $70,000 per year, no one makes less than $50,000 and your one super star makes $150,000.  Now, what do you say in the ad?  Some might say that because the word potential is in there you could just leave it at $150,000 annual earning potential… and you could, the potential is there, it’s not a lie.  But the fact is, only one guy is making that much, and chances are no green peas are going to make that in their first year at your store.  Furthermore, $150k can be a scary number for job seekers, it might hurt more than it helps.  Using a range for earning potential that includes the average number is a good alternative, in this case $60,000 - $80,000 annual earning potential.  Those numbers are strong enough to attract applicants and close enough to your average and low end number that they won’t be off by that much for anyone who stays at your store for a full year.

Another good example of “working honestly in the gray area,” is with regards to training pay.  ALL dealerships are required by law to pay either minimum wage or some type of draw.  And since most new salespeople will spend at least their first month at the store training, it’s ALWAYS safe to say “Guaranteed Income While Training.”  Now, where the gray area comes into play is when you place a specific number on that “training pay / training guarantee / training salary.”  In my opinion, I see nothing wrong with grouping the guarantee into one lump sum.  For example, if you pay out $500/week for the first 2 months it would be, “$4,000 Training Pay!”  Some people may disagree, and some may want to add a disclaimer to that stating that it will be paid out $500/week for the first 8 weeks of employment, and that’s fine, obviously at some point before you actually hire this person you will be informing them of the full details of the pay plan.  But if you don’t have an aggressive ad then you will never see that person to begin with, and you might miss out on your next superstar.

The next time you are approving the ad content for a help wanted ad, be honest, but don’t kill the ad by being “too honest.”