With the current economy being what it is, there exists a massive pool of qualified individuals looking for employment and a way to achieve their financial goals. Now is the time for you to seek out these employees and add them to your team. Easier said than done, am I right? Most employment ads either draw the wrong candidates or don’t draw any at all. It’s because they are set up poorly and fail to communicate the proper message.

If a candidate is identified, the interview process is  conducted from the  prospective of “Can I make this person fit into what we need?”  This mindset is wrong. It misdirects you toward making the person fit the position, rather than having them fill the position. Their skill set needs to match your needs.  Your needs should dictate the skill set.

This directly impacts your turnover rate. If you are not filling positions with the right people, you will have high turnover. This is a problem for most service centers. You hire someone who has great skills, but unfortunately, they don’t match your needs. You try to figure out a way to make those skills work, but in the end, it doesn’t lead to success. Productivity, job satisfaction, and loyalty will suffer because the individual was not right for the job. Eventually, they will seek other employment, or you will terminate them and find yourself back at square one.

The following is an overview. It contains four basic steps to help you solve the issue of hiring and retaining the best service advisors. It is meant to be a starting point and to provide you with a better way of approaching the challenge:

Step 1 – The Ad

Start by writing an ad from the perspective of what you and the automotive industry have to offer a new employee. It will not only draw the best who are already in the business, it will attract the best from outside the dealership network. It  will also attract fresh new candidates from other fields who are attracted by what you have to offer.

The average person outside of the auto industry does not understand the tremendous potential of a career in the auto industry. They do not realize that their already existing skill set may be a perfect match for a career in this industry or that skills acquired through training could be the ticket to financial success and security.

Here is an example of an ad that rarely fails to attract the type of people the auto industry needs and is looking for:

Outstanding Opportunity

*Insert position title and job description

Compensation:

$70,000 (average) to over $100,000 (annually)

Those who are in this career, on average, own a 2,500 sq. ft. home, on 1.3 acres of land. They park a vehicle in their driveway that has a value of over $45,000. If they are married and their spouse works outside the home, they have a 3,500 sq. ft. home, on 2 acres of land and a second vehicle of equal or greater value. They enjoy an annual two-week paid vacation and a benefit package that rivals some of the largest corporations in the USA.

People who thrive in this industry are former restaurant servers, retail salespeople, real estate agents, ex-military, teachers, truck drivers, bartenders, medical assistants. They range in age from 18 to 68 years old.

No college degree required.

Comprehensive training program included.

Step 2 – Hiring

Hiring the best candidate is usually not accomplished through impatience on the part of the interviewer. Being in a  in a rush to find “anyone” and not the “right one” is a huge mistake. The tendency is to look for reasons why a candidate would suffice, rather than focusing on how they would or would not be a great addition to your team. I always interview every candidate over the telephone before inviting them in for a formal interview. It saves time and I strongly encourage you to do the same. In the telephone interview, I am looking for people who agree that the auto industry may be a great fit for them and who have a background that requires the same skill set I am looking for in a new employee. If the skill set is not there, I look for signs that indicate that the individual is coachable. Are they capable of learning what I need them to know? If, and only if, I sense clear potential, a high level of enthusiasm, and a true desire to be successful, do I offer an in-person interview. The telephone interview is limited to 10-15 minutes, tops.

Once you move to the in-person interview, your thinking  should focus on finding out if this person would or would not, be a great fit for your team. This mindset will help you to eliminate future problems.  With this perspective, you will ask the tougher questions that uncover the things we may not want to see but need to see. All too often, interviewers look at potential candidates that have undesirable personality traits, but in an effort to be quick about hiring somebody, they convince themselves that this individual can be changed.  For instance, if a person has a history of making bad decisions, it is unlikely that you will be able to change that characteristic in them. There is a big difference between hiring a person to be taught a new skill or to be trained to alter a skill set they already possess, and hiring a person who needs to be trained to show up on time, commit to the mission, and make wise decisions. One side is about coaching and training someone who already possesses a solid foundation of professional values. This person is building a career. On the other side, you have a person with no core professional understanding. You can’t build on that foundation because it is made of sand. This person will disappoint you and will not produce.

Step 3 – Retention

Retaining employees is easy. It requires clear communication from the start, in the interview. This includes defining what the job is, how it is to be performed, the rewards for a job well done, and the penalties for failure.

I have assisted many businesses in developing employee contracts that painstakingly spell out job descriptions, expectations, compensation, rewards, consequences, and penalties. This contract is presented to the potential employee and discussed in detail during the interview. A copy is given to them to take with them in the event that  an offer is made at that time or at a later date.

Once an offer is made and the employee accepts, the first order of business on their first day of employment, is to give them a second copy of the employee contract to read and sign. This takes place before any orientation or new business is conducted. It sets a tone of professionalism and transparency between you and your new hire. Everything is in writing and if any questions arise, they can be addressed directly at this time. It provides an invaluable understanding between you and the employee. Mutual understanding creates mutual respect. Respect creates loyalty. Loyalty leads to retention.

Properly training new employees to do what you expect and are paying them to do is key to ensuring their success. The number one reason service advisers leave the profession is due to lack of training  and lack of understanding of how to deliver the results you are seeking. Without a comprehensive training program, you are taking a giant step  toward failure. To retain your new employee, you must provide them with the tools for success. Before they ever see a customer, you and they need to be sure that there is a clear understanding of expectations and mastery of skills necessary to meet those expectations.

Step 4 – Motivation

Knowing what motivates each employee is critical. Today’s employees and their life goals are no longer cookie-cutter. They vary widely from person to person. Uncovering what motivates a person will deliver maximum results and will allow you to customize your management of them.

I had the opportunity to provide training to a dealer group who had a unique way of doing what I am promoting here. The dealer principle would start the training for a new employee with a “what we have for you” talk, as he called it. I watched and listened, as he showed one young new advisor how she could have the life she was seeking, if she gave 100% every day. After identifying her life goals, he showed her how she could accomplish every one of them by being part of his team. He demonstrated to her how, if she took the difference between what she had earned at Applebee’s as a server ($35,000 annually) and what she could be making as an advisor ($70,000 annually) and saved, spent and invested smartly, she could be financially independent, based on the life she wanted, within 10 to 20 years. It was evident in each new employee’s face, as he uncovered each of their life goals and showed them a roadmap of how to accomplish them, that they were believers and eager to get started. The level of enthusiasm, passion, and excitement in each individual, as they went off for their training, is something I will never forget. Best of all, the dealer and his team of mangers knew what motivated each person. They would be able to customize their management styles based on the things that motivated each employee. Not only did the new employees learn something that I day, I did too. I am not ashamed to admit that I took his genius idea and used it forever more in my training. By the way, the dealer knew that I did this and actually supported me in doing so. He was not just in the “people business.” He was in the “making people better” business.

If properly executed, attracting, hiring and retaining the best employees available can easily be done by rethinking your process. This article is an overview. It does not provide you with the details and particulars you will need to incorporate into your plan. The specifics will be dictated by each individual business and your individual needs and goals. This article is meant to get you started about thinking outside the box and taking a new approach to an old problem. At this writing, there are a ton of qualified candidates available who have the exact skill set you seek. They are out there because their restaurant, retail store, or business has laid them off or closed forever. These are hardworking people who are looking for a new career that will deliver a good life. They have families to provide for and bills to pay. They will listen and they will learn. They will perform and deliver. They are looking for you and the opportunity you provide. They may have trouble finding you because they do not know where you are and do not know what you have to offer them.  Follow the steps and ask the right questions. Take the time you need to find the “right one” and not just anyone. This process will populate your business with qualified, committed employees who want to succeed as much as you do. The automotive industry is the backbone of America.  It only seems fitting that our industry would be the place that so many Americans who need a hand right now, will not only find a job to pay the bills, they will find a career upon which to build a life. Embrace this opportunity and be that provider in someone’s life.

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