Automotive AftermarketThe automotive aftermarket industry is changing rapidly.

With more than 255 million cars registered in the United States alone, plenty of opportunities exist for innovative companies. Managers hired to supervise these initiatives need unique skills, a driving passion, and the ability to adapt and stay ahead of future industry trends.

Consider the following points when it's time to hire a manager in the automotive aftermarket industry.

Past Results Trump Length of Experience

What good is a decade of experience if financial losses are directly tied to that manager?

Do not fall into the trap of attractive experience if a resume or letter of interest does not also highlight successful results. Any manager can put a positive spin on all but the most disastrous financial returns.

If your candidate fails even to attempt to portray past results as successful, he is either an unskillful job applicant or a bad manager fleeing a failure.

If the candidate is otherwise strong, a little research is worthwhile in order to examine the omission of results.

What Do They Drive and Why?

A successful manager will understand the needs and passions of your customer base. Your new hire does not need to be a  "car nut," but she does need to understand her own role in the automotive aftermarket industry and relate it to the varying roles of your customers.

If she is a Toyota owner and commuter who values reliability and high gas mileage, does she understand why some of her fellow Toyota drivers modify their automobiles for weekend racing?

Conversely, if he is an SUV owner who worries mostly about safety, can he understand his position in the market, and articulate the needs of SmartCar drivers?

Ask your candidates to discuss their own priorities in vehicle modification and maintenance, how a company might target their customer demographic, and how a very different group of customers might choose automotive aftermarket products.

Lean Management and Toyota Production Systems

Not every automotive aftermarket company needs to implement lean principles throughout all aspects of its operations, but a would-be automotive aftermarket manager who is not at least moderately familiar with lean principles or TPS probably is not following industry trends or reading trade publications.

With many skillful managers who understand lean principles available, you may wish to eliminate candidates who have not worked with it enough to discuss intelligently.

Automotive Aftermarket Mentors and References

The people a candidate chooses as references speak volumes about the candidate, both directly and simply by being selected. If your top applicant has not offered his most recent supervisor as a reference, contact that supervisor anyway. He or she may have much more to say than the references the candidate chose.

In addition to references, consider asking your candidates to provide contact information for people they see as mentors at work and in their personal lives. You can learn a great deal about a potential manager by speaking to the people she respects most and strives hardest to imitate.

What other tips do you have when it to comes to hiring an automotive aftermarket manager?