Bruce Daugherty has built an extensive career in the industry by working his way up in automotive sales and service business since 1981 to executive management, most recently serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Sunroad Auto in San Diego. For the last 25 years, he managed in all three major time zones and touched nearly all manufacturers in the business. Currently, he is owner and president of his own consulting company.

He took some time to share his insights about managing a business in a highly complex industry.

What is your background in the automotive industry?

After working coast to coast across all those time zones, I built relationships, made friends, and developed experience managing billions of dollars. As a result, I learned what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.

Most recently, I started a new company, a full-service consulting firm serving the entire United States. I’m the Owner and President.

What does your company offer to automotive dealership owners?

We offer customized and boutique consulting in the automotive industry. That could mean boots on the ground, in-person visits, or quarterly check-in calls. I tailor each experience to client needs. Sometimes I assist in revamping entire systems and processes. Often, my role consists of verifying what the owners are already thinking to improve their CSI.

My advisory capacity includes buy-sells. I work with buyers and sellers to establish price and identify money-making opportunities, ultimately bringing a higher price. Then I provide buyers with a common-sense model that tells when to buy or walk away – or negotiate for a lower price. It’s about helping owners avoid multi-million dollar mistakes.

My job is to provide clarity for owners and principal leaders in the auto industry.

What is your approach to hiring in the automotive industry?

I look for rainmakers who don’t take six months to settle into a role. They grasp the job, immediately suggesting deficiencies and offering streamlined process solutions within 1-2 weeks.

Finding that level of competency and drive requires two commitments. The first is a non-negotiable hiring process, whether you find candidates on your own or you rely on a recruiter’s talent.

Rules for hiring:

  • Find candidates who appear nice and are caring, empathetic persons.
  • Require three interviews to hire for ANY position; a sound filter system is insisting that candidates come back for each interview.
  • Look for people who are intelligent and willing to follow a prescriptive process.
  • Include all department managers in the process and insist on a unanimous vote to invite the person into the culture.

I also advise that businesses rely on the services of a recruiter for double vetting, so there are no surprises. You must create a symbiotic relationship with your recruiter – one that is collaborative and applies the concepts of continuous improvement to seek the right fit.

How did you hear about AutoPeople?

David Adragna and I have had a 20-year friendship and business interactions — we have always stayed in touch, and he’s been a great asset in hiring. I have tremendous respect for David’s judgment and work ethic. AutoPeople stays on the right track to help fill jobs for many companies, just as it has helped me.

David finds people!

What makes AutoPeople different than other recruiters?

Over the years when I’ve had a need, I called David, or sometimes he called me with candidates. We decided if there was a fit and went from there–David has vetted many candidates and sent them to me for interviews. Interestingly enough, the first thing David wanted to ask was “give me the critical feedback” as soon as possible–instead of just trying to close the deal–it mattered to David if it was the RIGHT candidate for me.

When I combine my process with someone like AutoPeople, who have an excellent vetting process and are a company that really cares, then you have a double vetting process that helps your chances of getting the best people.

I have used many firms throughout my career–AutoPeople ranks at the top–strong communication, promptness and very fair pricing.

What results were you able to achieve working with AutoPeople?

With the right hires, we’ve been able to fill a void and round out the team.

When you need to make money on the bottom line, you have to have the right people, the right team structure, pay plans that motivate. Only then can you manage successfully. Without the right hires and the right team, you can forget about everything else you would like to accomplish.

Final thoughts

Bruce Daugherty points out that success in the auto industry results from savvy investments in hiring and developing seamless processes that catapult team members forward to meet customers’ demands. Auto dealership owners recognize that they must build a system that brings all facets of the business together as one, or they face the possibility of huge losses. Do it right, and the potential is almost unlimited.

However, the most critical component of success comes down to one factor: the people you hire.


If you would like to connect with Bruce, please reach out to David and AutoPeople.


So when you’re ready to have the recruitment team at Autopeople in your corner, give us a call at 1-800-659-9501, visit our website at or email us to discuss what Autopeople can do for you.