Next, club members will read Why Jacob Matters, a book Hiester wrote. Many employees read the book when it was published in 2019, but since then, Hiester acquired a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram store in Sanford, N.C., and hired more workers. He thought it was important for newcomers to read the book as a guide to the dealership group's principles.
In the book, Hiester shares personal experiences in business and lessons he has learned from them. Each chapter ends with questions and activities. Other dealership groups also have used the book for employee training.
Hiester named the book Why Jacob Matters after Jacob Hobbs, an employee. Hiester said the group initially failed Hobbs when he was hired as one of its first product specialists in 2015.
"He was a perfect fit for our company, but we failed him, and after a short period of time with us, he put in his resignation," Hiester said.
That experience taught Hiester and the management team how to make the product specialist program more successful. Today, Hobbs is a manager.
"Everybody has a Jacob," Hiester said. "That person that you hired that checks every box but after a short period of time, they move on to something else leaving you to wonder 'what could have been.' "
Hiester says that for employees to be engaged, they must believe they matter to the company, have a voice and a manager who will listen, see a path for growth and receive fair compensation. If employees can check those boxes, "they're going to contribute to the success of your business," he said.
The dealership group, which sells 8,000 to 9,000 new and used vehicles per year, has five core values for its employees: character/integrity, a love of people, a get-it-done attitude, professionalism and a servant attitude.
The guidance in the book and the core values hold Hiester and his leadership team accountable to practice what they preach, he said.
"In the beginning, it became what we used to filter out" job applicants, he said. "Now it has become the promise that I make to our employees. I'm going to surround you with people that embody those characteristics. There's a lot of accountability that goes with it."
Hiester is working on a second book, drawn largely from employee feedback, about forming an effective recruiting process. He expects it to be available by the end of the year.
"I really believe that in today's culture and today's landscape, recruiting and maintaining talent is one of the most important things that we do as leaders," Hiester said. "This is one of the areas where our leadership team said, 'We really need to train the next level on how to attract talent.' "