ProblemFix My Problem

Scott Benko owner of Haltom Equipment, Mooresville, Ind., shares this challenge, which many dealers face. Learn more about Haltom Equipment in this feature story.

My #1 problem: Help in the shop. It is virtually impossible to get anybody who knows anything and then to keep them. I know, we all are battling this. I would say in my 7 years back in business (since we exited our previous merger), we have been through 25-30 people both in the back and at the counter.

Either they think they are too good for here and leave (can't follow the rules because they are too good!) or they just can't do the job and I get rid of them. When they apply for the job, they think it's going to be easy — working on lawn mowers, how hard can that be? They say, “I can do it. I've worked on mine or my dad's or my grandpa's.” I give them a chance and they sink. They have no idea what they're doing.

What happens is my service manager has to do the majority of the work and then he can't get his job done.

The younger generation (18-30) today for the most part today is WORTHLESS. No skills, they don't want to work, no work ethic and zero personality. All they want is a paycheck. Our society is in a world of hurt.

Unemployment Rates Lower in May vs. Last year

June 2018 Update: Unemployment rates were lower in May than a year earlier in 350 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 20 areas, and unchanged in 18 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rate in May was 3.6%, not seasonally adjusted, down from 4.1% a year earlier.



Rex Collins of HBK CPAs & Consultants shares his thoughts on this challenge.

The dealer of today is facing new challenges to attract and keep the right employees. This is difficult for all employers, but especially difficult for an industry not known for its "touchy-feely" approach to employees and employment issues. The old approach of “if you don't want to work I'll show you the door” simply isn't working with today's work force. Today's employees have too many options for work…and can often find an employer who is less demanding. It is especially hard to find good technicians.

Dealers have generally gotten away with the above approach for decades…some dealers have even told us that they expect a high turnover. Today's changes in the workforce seem to be too overwhelming for this kind of tough approach to be successful. The nation is facing a workforce shortage in general and the industry is also facing a severe shortage especially in certain positions. Because of the nation's aging population, it is anticipated that this shortage will persist for at least another decade. Quite simply, the number of new employees taking the place of retiring workers cannot keep up.

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Managing for Success

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Successful dealers today are making allowances that have been unheard of in the past. Considerations of flexible work schedules and work/life balance issues are now a part of a dealer's strategic plan. Unless these matters are considered, the old-school dealer will likely end up with high turnover and sub-par performance from the mediocre employees that are retained.

I know this is not likely what you want to hear. I am 55 years old, a CPA who understands the cost of running a dealership better than most since I actually owned a dealership and I am dealing with similar issues when hiring staff.

There are some things that you can do to hopefully make a better hiring decision:

  • Preparation
    • Be specific about the job, skills, environment, etc. that you are looking for.
    • Review the resume looking for key issues that need clarification. (Glean the truth from the lies that are often in a person's resume.)
    • Consider having a second employee interview the candidate in order to add insight and objectivity.
    • Schedule enough time for the interview AND enough time to collect and document your thoughts after the interview.
  • Opening
    • Welcome the candidate with a smile and let them know how long you anticipate the interview lasting.
  • Gather information during the interview
    • Ask open-ended, specific questions that will generate honest responses
    • Fully explore the responses provided by the candidate by asking follow up questions…the why, how and when of the responses.
    • Do not be afraid of silence. Allow candidates time to respond.
  • Share information with the candidate
    • Fully describe the tasks, criteria for success, requirements, etc., of the job — but only after completing step 3 above.
    • Allow the candidate to react to your description of the tasks, etc.
    • Describe the company, culture and your expectations.
    • Again, allow the candidate to react to your description.

Finally, there is no magic "Land of Oz" where hard-working qualified technicians can be found. Most dealers try to develop a working relationship with the local trade schools and stay active on job boards on the internet. Although infrequent, sometimes working with your manufacturer can lead to the hiring of a technician who is not happy with his current employer. Overall, the best approach is to make your dealership the one place that every technician in the area wants to work.

Editor’s Note: Rex Collins offers strategies on other common dealership problem, succession planning. Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Succession Planning: Step-by-Step.

Want more information on this topic?

Check out this webinar: The 7 Steps for Finding and Hiring the Right Employees, with Sara Hey of Bob Clements International. RLD's webinar series is sponsored by Yanmar.