Article

Employee Retention: Lessons Learned

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Bob Tasca, III - Also by this author

The high rate of employee turnover in the car business just might be the single greatest source of aggravation in the industry. Turnover frustrates every single person at the dealership, starting with the owner. Turnover makes every job at the dealership more difficult to accomplish, drives up operating costs and drives down profits. Most importantly, turnover impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty.

We strive to curb employee turnover and increase employee satisfaction because customer satisfaction hangs in the balance. In our effort to make a difference in employee satisfaction and retention at the Tasca Automotive Group, we learned important lessons in the following areas:

  1. Recruiting and Hiring Process
  2. New Hire Orientation Process
  3. Continuous Improvement and Ongoing Training
Recruiting & Hiring Process

Defining the process for recruiting and hiring great people is the first of many chapters in the story behind employee retention and customer satisfaction. Recruit and hire out of inspiration, and the story just might have a happy ending; hire out of desperation, and you’re writing the formula for rapid turnover. At Tasca, we’re recruiting everyday to avoid being caught in a hiring bind. As anyone in retail knows, there’s no such thing as a “hiring freeze” in a car dealership, and if you’re not on the lookout for talent, it may go unnoticed.

Whether you’re looking for a qualified technician, superstar sales person or trustworthy title clerk, the best dealers utilize “word of mouth” advertising to recruit. At Tasca, our goal is to never need to run an advertisement to solicit employees. To accomplish this, we work to create a reputation in the community that qualifies our dealership as the place to work. We focus on doing our best as effective leaders within our workplace and community. Quality job applicants will seek to find us, if we are doing our jobs.

To boost our networking efforts, we’ve also learned that it pays to continually ask current employees who do an outstanding job if they know any one who might make a good fit with the organization. We offer an employee “bird dog fee” for their help in finding a quality candidate that stays for a period of time (i.e. six months).

Finally, we’ve worked hard to brand our Web site in our community so people know where and how to find us. We use our Web site as a virtual dealership where you can do just about anything you can do in person at one of our stores. This includes learning about employment opportunities, completing an online application or contacting our HR coordinator. We take care to post new opportunities with a full description, and we keep the information current. To find out how easy we make it to learn about employment opportunities at our Web site within two clicks, visit www.Tasca.com

New Hire Orientation Process

At Tasca Automotive, we’ve grown from a small, family-owned single point store to a multi-franchise auto group operating out of three locations and very shortly, four. We’ve grown substantially while maintaining CSI scores that are among the highest in the nation and customer loyalty is above 63 percent. Throughout the growth process, we’ve done our best to recruit and hire out of inspiration rather than desperation as we’ve added people. When adding to the team, we learned we were running the risk of watering down our culture and dropping people into positions before they’re fully competent. For anyone who’s cringed at observing an unprepared, unskilled, untrained employee deal with a valued customer, you know what I’m talking about. Sending a new hire into a training room with a stack of video tapes before a trial by fire is a training strategy that will put you at a competitive disadvantage in no time. An ill-conceived training strategy is not fair to the dealer, it’s not fair to the customer and it’s not fair to the employee. Most importantly, it probably lies at the root cause of excessive turnover.

At Tasca Automotive, we’ve always believed our most important asset is our people, and we owe it to our customers and ourselves to invest in the development of our team. That’s why we hired an outside training and consulting company to improve our strategy for recruiting, hiring and training our people. With BZ’s help, we’ve been able to manage growth, increase profits and reduce turnover. We created a recruiting, hiring and training system to ensure we hire the right people for the job, baptize them in the Tasca Way of doing business and give them the tools and skills they need to get off to a strong start. We build on that foundation with weekly in-house sessions and monthly training meetings with our consultant. Here’s a quick overview of our new hire orientation:

Part 1 – Welcome to the Tasca Family: Overview the dealership’s history, vision, mission and principles.

Part 2 – Welcome to the Dealership: Overview each department and the new hire’s role within the entire ownership experience.

Part 3 – Dealership Tour: Tour every department within the dealership.

Part 4 – Department Internship: Spend time in each department to better understand the customer experience.

Part 5 – Job Training: Highly interactive training designed to give the new hire the knowledge, skill and confidence to execute their job responsibilities and to be successful.

Part 6 – Mentorship: Every new hire is assigned a mentor who is responsible for helping them on the job for the first 120 days.

Part 7 – Certification: To ensure each new hire is ready to go face to face with our customers, we have them complete a certification process to demonstrate they are capable of delivering the Tasca Experience. If you’d like to know more about our certification process or any of these components, e-mail me.

The goal is our graduates leave our orientation excited about their career and confident with the skills and process needed to get results. In building this training system, we discovered the need to get our leadership team on the same page so that the training message we delivered was consistent and easy to implement. Nothing unwinds new skills faster than mixed messages from the leadership team. By taking our leadership team off-site, we were able to define our goals and our plan of action for achieving those goals. Our consultant led the team in talking about how we can develop a world class team of employees who are passionately committed to serving our customers. By involving every member of the leadership team in our vision and the creation of our Playbooks to carry out that vision, we bring to life the idea that people support what they help create. Because they were involved from the start, they do a better job motivating the rest of the team and holding them accountable.

Continuous Improvement & Ongoing Training

The initial investment to implement a solid process to recruit, hire and train a new employee will fail to deliver expected returns without a plan for continuous improvement and ongoing training. Our outside consulting company makes it easy to bring fresh insight and best practices from successful dealers around the country whether we’re keeping skills fresh or launching a new initiative like our customer relationship center. When we were looking for a better way to handle inbound Internet leads, we expanded the department to handle inbound phone, outbound sold, service, renewal and unsold follow up.

With help from our consultant, we crafted a playbook and a training schedule to detail each of our processes and ensure we had the skills to double, triple and quadruple the results from our CRC.

Whether we’re looking to add to our staff, preparing a new hire for a career with Tasca, keeping our current staff motivated, or launching a new profit center, on-going training is the key to continuous improvement. Will strong leadership and a comprehensive training system shape the evolution of your team, or will your people evolve on their own? The modules included in our training system are: sales process, management and coaching, phones, Internet, unsold follow-up, sold follow-up, service, lease and retail renewal and more. With training and vision, we’ve learned we can help ordinary people get extraordinary results, and if we treat our people well, they will treat our customers well.

Vol 1, Issue 6

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