Jared Nielsen

Jared Nielsen is chief human resources officer for Stotz Equipment, which has 25 locations in 8 states. View his presentation “Elevate Your Approach to Employee Management” at www.DealerSuccessAcademy.com.

Employee management can be a complicated function with critical impact on your success. I’m the chief human resources officer for Stotz Equipment and I wanted to share some of our success strategies for talent management, including how we recruit employees through our website and best practices for onboarding, training, reviews and more.

Stotz Equipment is a multi-generation, family-owned dealership with 25 locations in 8 states. However, these ideas can be adapted by dealerships of all sizes. 

Developing a Talent Strategy

We have grown rapidly in the last 22 years from 3 locations to the 25 we have today, and we expect to double in size in the next 4-5 years. We hope to do that by gaining market share, by increasing customer satisfaction and adding more stores.

Dealer Takeaways

• Develop a talent strategy to help identify what kind of employees you need to support your dealership’s goals.

• Showcase your dealership’s story on your website to help attract promising candidates. 

• Performance reviews should focus on what the employee should start doing, stop doing and keep doing. 

• A major factor in employee satisfaction is an employee’s relationship with their manager. 

Recruiting good employees is the first step to help us accomplish those goals. We want to attract and hire people who fit our company culture and who will represent our core values of quality, integrity, loyalty, caring and community. Our ideal candidate will also have the talents we are hiring for: a strong work ethic; a positive demeanor; and who will complement the current team.

Accomplishing our goals is impacted by characteristics of the team. Developing and implementing a talent strategy that will help us meet our needs is crucial. Here are questions we ask ourselves to help identify what we need to grow:

  • What is holding my team back from being world class?
  • What skills, personality and experience would complement the team?
  • What is our team’s identity? 

Website as a Recruiting Tool

Our website has been an important advertising and recruiting tool to help us find new employees that align with our team’s identity and support our dealership’s goals. It’s used to tell our story and give a snapshot of the employee experience at Stotz Equipment. To create this snapshot we try to answer:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What is our story?
  3. What is the experience like at our company? 

Every dealership website promotes products and attracts customers, but your website should also represent what it’s like to work for your company. We want our website to attract high level talent and demonstrate an innovative company rather than leave the impression we’re behind the times.

Working with New Employees

The recruitment process flow chart below shows our process, from job posting through onboarding. Recruiters, which we refer to as our human resources business partners (HRBP), help in the early stages to find and screen candidates. Assuming that we’ve done a good job of identifying our needs, our HR business partners can then identify team members that align with our team and goals.

After the candidate has been hired, their first week is an orientation process. Our managers follow an agenda for every new hire, which includes touring the facility and their workspace, introducing them to other team members and assigning them a mentor.

The manager also shares Stotz Equipment’s “Circle of Success” philosophy with its employees to show how communication supports the dealership’s growth. We also set up a team lunch so our current staff can get to know the new employee.

For some new employees, such as service technicians, the orientation phase will continue at our Avondale, Ariz., headquarters. There, the new service techs attend a 3-day session with our corporate aftermarket trainer, who walks them through our service department procedures.

Encouraging Success

To help encourage success, we have three types of performance management processes: performance reviews, corrective actions and a performance improvement plan. 

Performance reviews are conducted every November and May and focus on what we want the employee to start doing; what we want the employee to keep doing; and what we want the employee to stop doing. Managers will talk through areas where the employee is falling short, along with areas where the employee is performing well.

"Performance reviews should focus on what the employee should start doing, stop doing and keep doing..."

Corrective action reviews occur when there is a violation of company policy. If an employee is struggling with performance they will be put on a performance improvement plan and made a “question mark.” This means we are deciding if they are going to be a long-term employee with us. 

The goal of performance improvement plans isn’t to move employees out of the company, but to get them back on the right path. 

Developing Leaders 

The biggest impact on the employee experience — and their engagement with our company — is their relationship with their manager. We encourage our managers to focus on an employee’s strengths.

We utilize the StrengthsFinder program from Gallup and have a series of three workshops to train managers to be coaches who recognize an employee’s strengths. This approach gives them “intel” into how that person thinks and how to help them be successful.

Focusing on strengths isn’t an excuse to avoid difficult conversations, rather, it gives managers insight to create a path to success. 

Another leadership training program we offer is our Aspiring Leaders program. Our CEO, Tom Rosztoczy, leads these sessions, which shows the value we place on leadership training. The sessions focus on company culture and vision, managing people, financial literacy, business processes, customer relations, business growth and communications.

Recognizing Individuals

Our underlying philosophy for employee management at Stotz Equipment can be summed up with this quote from Don Clifton, who is the inventor of StrengthsFinder. He says, “What will happen when we think about what is right with people rather than fixating on what is wrong with them?”

Following this philosophy helps us find those employees that are the best fit and helps us provide a great experience for them.