It’s probably no surprise to most owners and managers, but typically, the biggest expense in a dealership are the people you employ. In the heat of the battle, when you feel the pain of needing another set of hands, it can be easy to justify adding another body to the dealership and another person to payroll. However, as you approach slow season, you may find yourself questioning the decisions you have made around adding the additional people.
As we work with dealers, through our Dealer Success Groups, we have seen three major pitfalls when it comes to hiring.
1. You don’t know who you need
The first major pitfall is that you aren’t clear on who you actually need in the position. So often, owners and managers fill the position to take care of the pain they are feeling in the moment but don’t look at who they will need down the road.
For example, you may feel like you need an additional parts person to help with the chaos that ensues at the parts counter. When, in reality, what you need is a parts support person who helps by putting away stocking parts orders and allows the parts people you have to focus on taking care of the customers. In addition, this person would help the service department as well as they would pull the parts the technicians need for their repairs. A parts support person is generally a low-level person that we can grow into the next parts sales person when the need truly arises.
2. You don’t have a process in place for hiring or training
Many dealers don’t have in place a process for hiring or training employees once they are hired. The most important thing you do as an owner is to hire right and develop your people.
We encourage the dealers we work with to utilize a 5 step process in hiring. This includes: having a clear job description and benchmarking the position, finding candidates, phone interview, in-person interview and then the final interview. When you are able to have a repeatable process in place in hiring, it allows you to have consistent results with the people you are adding to your team. (You can find more information on the hiring process in our Dealer Toolbox).
The other piece is that owners and managers don’t typically have a process in place for training of their new hires. Typically, the new employee is put next to a veteran employee who has a bad attitude and told to “follow their lead” over the next week.
You, as an owner or manager, have spent a substantial amount of time and money to bring this person onto your team, and will only set them up for failure if you don’t have a training plan in place. As we have trained new employees for dealers in our Dealer Success Groups, we have seen time and time again the best way to set your new employees up for success in your dealership is to train them early and keep them engaged in the training process. Maybe in your dealership the process looks like you, as the owner, working alongside them for the first week. You might have them attend online service or parts workshops, or even send them off-site for training. Here is what we have learned: if you want to have your people perform at or above your expectations, you have to train them early and often.
3. You ignore the references
One of the most overlooked parts of hiring process is having conversations with the references of the applicant. You wouldn’t ever make a decision on a new service truck or a new piece of technology without getting the opinion of others before the purchase. However, when we are in the midst of hiring, all of this conventional wisdom goes out the window. Take time to call at least 5 references. We have to keep in mind that everyone is bringing some sort of baggage into the job, it’s just up to us which baggage we will bring into the dealership.
As you get ready to add a person to your team, be sure to avoid these pitfalls and success will be yours!