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Onboarding the Right Employees for Handling the Phone in 90 Days

Setting a foundation isn’t an overnight process. ‘Hitting the ground running’ does nothing but set you and your new hire up for a train wreck. It takes new hires eight months to reach their full potential. Put the time in and do it right. A one-week onboarding process isn’t sufficient for new hires; learning takes time.

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You work hard to find and hire the right people. You found the perfect hire, they’re great on the phones, they have a great attitude and are excited about working for your dealership.

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They’re officially part of your team and ready to start their first day. Now what?

How you welcome and onboard new employees into your organization is just as important as how you might welcome a new customer into your dealership. Reports show that more than 25 percent of employees leave a new position within the first 90 days, and turnover is costly. In fact, the average dealer loses 25 people per year and will have to sell 1,200 more cars to cover the cost.

The good news is setting up new hires to succeed increases your odds of retaining them. New employees who are part of a well-structured onboarding orientation program are 69 percent more likely to remain at a company for up to three years.

Kick off your new employee onboarding by setting the right foundation and welcoming new team members from the start. Your onboarding process should start by getting new employees excited about you and your dealership. In other words, the first week shouldn’t be comprised of a sea of paperwork and a rundown of the 50 ways to get fired. Spread out the paperwork and focus on inspiring a new team member and building excitement about working for your dealership and your brand.

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Setting a foundation isn’t an overnight process. “Hitting the ground running” does nothing but set you and your new hire up for a train wreck. It takes new hires eight months to reach their full potential. Put the time in and do it right. A one-week onboarding process isn’t sufficient for new hires; learning takes time.

The 30/60/90-Day Plan for Success
Start with a checklist that maps out the 30/60/90-day plan and provides key increments that allow employees to focus on learning specific skills at the right times, rather than everything at once. By day 90, your new employee will be engrained into your culture, acclimated with processes and fully prepared to execute on your vision for the customer experience. The journey, however, dictates the success of the end result.

Consider incorporating a minimum of three key milestones for each phase:

Three Key Milestones by Day 30
Build connections: Drive interpersonal communication and internal relationship building from the beginning by ensuring new hires have ample exposure to all departments.

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Pair new employees up with a true mentor: Put them with someone who enjoys developing people and is proficient in transferring skill sets and imparting your dealership’s best practices.

Share the company’s vision, mission and values: This includes the standards and behaviors for how you serve your customers. This is your opportunity to establish expectations for the caller experience and the key role your new hire has in driving those experiences.

Pro tip — Make the phone part of your interview process so that every new employee managing the phones has a solid degree of aptitude and proficiency at the onset.

Three Key Milestones by Day 60
Practical application — Processes: Conduct situational training where you simulate every part of a call experience, including the fail points. Ensure your new hires understand the phone hardware but also understand best practices for how to route calls properly and prevent mishaps such as on hold hang-ups, cold transfers and dropped calls.

Practical application — Skills: Utilize a model where your new employee can role play scenarios once they’ve mastered what “right” looks like. This is the most effective way to “practice their lines” before they officially hit the stage. Determine areas of success and opportunities, provide feedback and commit to providing coaching and additional support in these areas.

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Remove the training wheels and start listening: Role play is good, but real call handling is essential. Once you’re confident that your new hire understands the attributes of a great call, it’s time for less training and more doing. Listen to their phone calls in the moment to provide on-the-spot coaching and an assessment of their performance.

Three Key Milestones by Day 90
Begin to monitor and provide feedback on more of their calls: Provide feedback on call performance but, before you do that, have the new hire point out what went right and wrong on their calls. When a new hire can identify what success and opportunity looks like from their actual call interaction, they’re ready for prime time!

Set KPIs, goals and targets: As the new employee transitions out of training and into their role, set realistic, achievable targets that they buy into and are held accountable for.

Follow-up: Follow-up with the new agent to receive feedback on their onboarding program. One-on-one feedback is one method. If you hired multiple employees at the same time, consider surveying new agents to gather feedback — you’ll get insights of your onboarding program from the learner’s perspective and this also lets new employees know their opinions and feedback are valued.

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Next issue, we’ll be diving into the best practices for personalizing an employee’s development after the onboarding period ends to ensure they continue to deliver positive caller experiences.

Holly Markel

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