Dealers rank finding good employees among their top concerns for 2013, according to Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s Business Trends and Outlook Survey.
Roger Miller, owner of Miller Agricultural Recruiting, says dealers have good reasons to be concerned.
“One of the things impacting recruiting is the general economy. People are reluctant to make a switch not knowing if a new job is better than their current one. For those with a spouse employed, it can be difficult for both to start over. Also, it has been difficult for many to relocate because of the housing market and being unable to sell their homes,” Miller says. His recruiting company has offices in Iowa and Colorado.
Don’t despair, though, if you have open positions to fill.
“There are good candidates out there,” Miller says. He offers these strategies for finding the best match for your dealership.
Search Online, Network
Miller says many companies use online job sites, such as Monster.com, to find candidates. A better option for dealerships may be a site like AgCareers.com, which is targeted to ag-related companies and those with ag experience.
In-person recruiting through your own network is another resource and one that may uncover the best candidates.
“Ask your current customers, ‘Do you know anybody who might be interested in a sales job?’” You might be surprised by the contacts you can make in your existing network.”
Roger Miller owns Miller Agricultural Recruiting.
Miller says another good source of potential candidates is area junior colleges or four-year colleges that offer an ag mechanics or ag business program.
“There you can find a young person who wants to be in the ‘iron business.’”
Your competitors can be another source for leads.
“Companies get unsolicited resumes and they don’t have a place for them. Be friends with your competitors and you can find employees that way,” Miller says.
Recruiters can also help with your job search. Miller says recruiters generally charge 20-30% of the first year’s salary. Sometimes, there’s no upfront risk. For instance, Miller doesn’t charge anything unless he finds a candidate the dealership hires.
Job Post Should be Simple
Think simple when crafting a job description for online posting or to share with your network. Three- or four-sentence job post are often sufficient.
“Posting a job is straightforward. You can’t camouflage a job too much or you may have trouble backing it up,” Miller says. State what position you’re advertising, what kind of experience you’re looking for, and what benefits the dealership offers.
“Use words that will make it attractive, like opportunities for advancement, good benefits, competitive compensation and good working hours. Those are the phrases that potential employees are looking for.”
Promote Unique Benefits
Miller says dealerships, even those with multiple locations, may not have the same advantages of larger corporations, especially in terms of career advancement. That’s OK.
“If you don’t have a lot of opportunity for a person to move up, then promote that you have a good team atmosphere where everybody is willing to help each other to get the job done,” Miller says.
Other dealership benefits include name recognition in the community.
“I feel that employees want to work for a company that has name recognition, somebody that has a good reputation. Employees are attracted to those dealerships where they don’t have to go out and sell a name. They just have to sell the equipment.”
And, if you offer a good benefits package, that could be a top recruiting point. Even flexible hours or a short drive can attract candidates.
Match Your Dealership Culture
Work experience and education are important factors when filtering out candidates. However, Miller advises dealers to consider how well a candidate will fit in with the existing team. For instance, do they reflect similar values and work ethic of the dealership?
“Sometimes it comes down to the gut feeling you get when talking to a person. It’s not something you can detect in a resume.”
Miller says to verify those initial impressions by speaking with at least two former supervisors, regardless of whether the candidate lists them as references.
“A lot of times I find the supervisors on my own. I ask them ‘Can you tell me about their professional skills and how good a person they are.’”
Generally, those candidates with an ag background have a better chance of succeeding in a dealership. However, an ag degree is not always necessary.
“If they have a college education, they are capable of learning a position and developing a successful career experience.”
Promote from Within
Heritage Tractor, of Baldwin City, Kan., is one of many dealerships faced with the challenge of finding employees. The dealership is featured in Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s Season-to-Season series.
“We’re constantly looking for good people to staff us in a way that meets our expectations,” says Mike Fraser, who recently retired as executive vice president. “We can’t compete with how much we pay an hour. There will always be someone else offering 50 cents more. Everybody is wired differently, so it’s about figuring out what floats their boat.”
They’ve had success with the strategy of promoting from within. They recently hired former summer intern David Stockwood to be the new marketing manager. Here’s why Stockwood, a recent college graduate with a degree in international business management, was pleased to take on the job.
“It’s a stable company and the people are great. You can start a career here instead of bouncing around,” Stockwood says.