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Top 5 HR Changes Dealers Are Making

Good sales professionals are hard to find and keep — particularly when your hiring process fails them. Dealer HR expert lists five changes you can make today.

August 2017, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by Adam Robinson

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Getty Images

In many dealerships, the hiring process is broken. The result is high turnover and mounting costs. In fact, the average dealer can incur up to $600,000 in turnover-related costs per year. You can do better. Let’s discuss five critical changes you can make to your recruiting and talent strategy that will give you a competitive advantage in your market.

1 Create a Well-Defined Hiring Process.

Candidate quality and candidate volume are two of the biggest problems dealers face. These metrics are a strong indicator of the strategies — or lack thereof — that dealers have in place to attract candidates. The best hiring process is both scripted and consistent, meaning the same interview questions and candidate assessments are used for all candidates. Most dealers have an ad hoc hiring process that’s no better than a coin flip.

In most dealerships, the hiring manager is responsible for sourcing and recruiting new talent. However, few dealers provide their hiring managers with guides and templates to help them effectively evaluate candidates. This lack of a defined process leads to poor hiring decisions, which, in turn, contributes to higher turnover rates.

2 Bring Your Career Site Into the 21st Century.

Your website is likely the first point of contact a prospective candidate has with your dealership. Without a site that is user-friendly and full of in-depth, easy-to-consume ­information about your business and employment ­opportunities, your dealership is behind the curve in the battle for talent.

A well-branded “career” site has a strong impact on the ability of job seekers to find the opportunity that fits their background and passion. It will positively influence their decision to fill out an application. The site should also be clean and easy to navigate on multiple devices.

At the same time, it’s important to show the dealership is interested in fostering the careers of job seekers by showcasing career development opportunities. Applicants want a clear picture of the dealership’s workplace culture. Your career site should include an explanation of the dealership’s history, leadership and community involvement, with a focus on your store’s unique position in the market.

These details help serious job seekers make better decisions about whether the role — and brand — are right for them.

3 Take a Mobile-First Approach to Hiring.

Mobile recruiting is no more a fad than mobile apps for car shopping. It’s a strategy you need to employ as soon as feasibly possible. According to recent research from Beyond.com, 77% of job seekers use mobile job search apps. Meanwhile, Pew Research found 53% of Americans between 18 and 29 years old have used their smartphones to search for jobs. On average, 70% of dealership applicants reached their store’s career site on a mobile device.

The trap that many business owners fall into when setting up a job application workflow is to require too many fields to be completed prior to submitting the app. You are basically asking the job seeker to recreate his or her résumé. That turns applicants off and crushes your conversion rate. Your application shouldn’t take more than two minutes to complete.

Finally, under no circumstances should you be requiring users to set up a “job seeker profile” before allowing them to apply for a job. What busy, successful person has time for that?

4 Strengthen Your Onboarding Process.

Once you reach a point where you’re finding the right people to staff your dealership, the top priority should be to retain them. Retention begins with a strong onboarding program, and getting your new hires up to speed as efficiently as possible is the goal. An employee onboarding program will not only make the hiring process seem like less of a “transactional” experience for the new hire, but will aid in making them more productive, faster.

The individual preparing to start their new position will feel as though the dealership is working hard to get them started off on the right foot. Their manager can get many of the clerical tasks out of the way prior to the employee’s first day. For starters, give your new hire the ability to complete their personal information forms, tax forms, I9 and other regulatory documents online before they arrive for their first day.

This point is also one at which initial training documents can be provided. When these steps can be completed from the comfort of home, the new hire can begin Day One with a clear head, focusing on being a productive member of the team.

5 Redefine Roles to Attract Top Talent.

Recent NADA data shows the average dealership turnover rate for sales associates is 72%. I believe compensation structure is at least partly to blame. The traditional dealership pay plan for sales is a 90-day draw period followed by a transition to a 100% commission structure. While that plan might have worked for previous generations, our own data shows that the incoming workforce demographic is far less likely to accept a position for which more than 50% of their earnings are tied to commissions.

The good news is that millennial consumers don’t want to buy cars the old way any more than millennial employees want to sell cars on full-commission pay plans. Considering a move from the traditional sales role to a “product specialist” structure has the potential to solve both issues. Product specialists assume the role of a trusted advisor who can use technology to help car buyers get their questions answered, making the car-buying process more transparent and less intense.

The retail automotive landscape is changing rapidly, and the pace of change is accelerating. Leading dealers are recognizing that sound people strategies can create a sustainable competitive advantage. Take a page from their book. Explore whether these tactics can propel your dealership operations to the next level.

Adam Robinson is the co-founder and CEO of Hireology and the author of “The Best Team Wins: Build Your Business Through Predictive Hiring.” Email him at adam.robinson@bobit.com.

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