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Building Your Dream Team

Strategies to Attract Top Performers & Build an Exceptional Team

The booming economy has created hiring headaches for many industries, including automotive retail. Attracting your “dream team” requires inspiring candidates about the industry, emphasizing your people-focused culture and leveraging digital and social platforms to connect.

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Dealerships of all sizes struggle to find dynamic salespeople, qualified service technicians and ambitious staff who are committed to the long-term career potential that the retail automotive industry provides. Highly talented job seekers have their pick of positions across industries in what has been dubbed the “applicant-driven economy” by Hireology,1 a hiring and talent management consultant for retail automotive firms and other industries. Dealerships compete for the same talent as industries such as software or finance, especially at entry-level positions.

Many dealers use online job boards such as Indeed, Monster or ZipRecruiter to drive a high quantity of applicants when they have a job opening. Unfortunately, competing for quality candidates causes dealers to overspend to find top talent and pay an “applicant tax.”2 Profitability can quickly come under pressure if the costs of employee recruitment and retention are not strategically managed. Hiring and onboarding a new employee costs an average of $10,000 at a dealership, and annual turnover rates can be as high as 67% for sales positions.3 The wrong hiring decisions can be costly.

Finding the right talent takes progressive strategies beyond using online job boards. 

“The right people are so essential to our ongoing success that one of our main strategies is to keep our talent pipeline filled by continually looking for the best candidates, even when we don’t need them,” said Mike Van Ryn, director of talent development for the Zeigler Auto Group. The group has 26 locations throughout the Upper Midwest. 

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Hire for Attitude and Charater

The last decade has seen the overall retail industry transformed through more engaging online experiences, increased product customization and seamless customer experiences. This same transformation is happening in automotive retail as well, requiring dealers to hire top talent who will deliver an approach that is more customer-centric than it is transactional. 

That means dealers need to seek talent who will adapt and grow with the industry and the organization. “It doesn’t matter what position we’re hiring for, we are looking for someone who shares our value of being customer-first and has the aspirations and work ethic to grow just as Zeigler does,” Van Ryn added.

Create Aspiration for the Industry

Keeping an ongoing dialogue with talent — those looking for jobs right now and those considering a career switch to the automotive retail industry — is a great first step in being more proactive with recruitment. But how do you make sure you tell the right story when you talk to high-potential candidates?

Bill O’Flanagan, president and general manager of the Reedman-Toll Auto Group in Pennsylvania, explained that during candidate interviews, the Reedman-Toll recruiters spend time outlining a clear career path — one that offers training, promotion and financial opportunities, as well as the ability to move between departments, such as from sales to finance.  

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“We’ve earned a reputation as a great place to build a personally and financially rewarding career,” O’Flanagan said. “Our customers see how motivated and engaged our employees are, and they often refer candidates to us. Nothing beats word-of-mouth as a recruiting tactic.”

Be A People-First Culture

Dealers who successfully engage and recruit top talent know candidates choose a position based just as much on culture and values as on specific job descriptions. That’s because top candidates don’t expect their first job at a dealership to be their only job — they seek professional and personal growth through formal training, mentoring and other learning opportunities. Emphasizing company culture can demonstrate your commitment to a people-first approach to both potential hires and current employees.

Leverage Technology for Connection

While online job boards may have their place in a recruitment strategy, the most effective use of technology happens with a dealership’s own website and social media platforms. Candidates look to learn everything they can about a company and are influenced through multiple social and digital touchpoints. Growing your reputation as a desired employer depends a great deal on your website’s content, as well as via social media platforms that include LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. 

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Your website should include a compelling careers section with employee testimonials, videos of company events and key leaders, a comprehensive overview of career paths and benefits, and other content that showcases your unique culture.

1. Robinson, Adam. “4 Common Job Seeker Frustrations and How Your Dealership Can Avoid Them,” AutoSuccess, September 2019. autosuccessonline.com/4-common-job-seeker-frustrations-and-how-your-dealership-can-avoid-them/

2. Kempton, Beth. “Are You Paying A Steep Applicant Tax?” Hireology.com, 19 April 2019. hireology.com/blog/are-you-paying-a-steep-applicant-tax-to-attract-top-talent-in-todays-applicant-economy/

3. “Meeting the Challenges of a Changing Workforce: Dealership Staffing Study,” Cox Automotive, 20 September 2017. coxautoinc.com/learning-center/dealership-staffing-study/

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