Hiring and Recruiting WinnersPosted 2/4/2008
By David Rogers
To figure out how to keep the right employee, we must first understand that attitudes have completely changed in today's world. A human resources (HR) director for a large, well-known computer manufacturing firm told me a while ago that when she sees more than three years at the same job on a resume, she immediately assumes that the person is complacent and that their resume gets stuck at the wrong end of the list.
Could it be? Is this the end of loyalty and longevity being viewed as a good thing?
The average resume I see today has a new job for every 1-1/2 to 2 years! It is unbelievable to me that these people ever get hired! Yet, here was my insider at the computer firm telling me that HR personnel are being trained to view people who stay longer than three years at a company as complacent and lacking ambition!
I personally say, "Baloney!"
But if you've been reviewing resumes lately, you'll see that the trend is certainly toward a more "transient" attitude, and that many skilled people are moving around frequently from job to job.
What does this mean to you?
First, you should know that according to many studies I've seen, the average cost of replacing an employee is upward of $35,000 per position, every time you do it. This includes advertising for the position, loss of sales and productivity while the position is empty, and further loss of sales and productivity while the new trainee is trying to get up to speed - which sometimes can take a year.
Add to that the cost of uniforms, taxes, insurance, the typically expensive "new guy" mistakes, and the administration time required to get everything in line, and you have a big investment in each of your team members.
Even though this trend is unfortunately real, I recommend you consider fighting it. First of all, don't give in to hiring the "professional basketballs" or "job hoppers."
Once you've made that commitment to yourself, staff and business, there are many ways to increase the odds of a particular new hire lasting longer, and becoming a more permanent employee.
Putting Out the "Feelers"
Does your ad look like all the others out there? Be more specific and seek a personality that fits. Think about your offer and compensation: does it speak to the personality you're looking for? For instance, I offer insurance benefits that are paid for a percentage of the entire family. I find family types are more stable, so I want to attract them.
When you screen (on the phone or Internet) before the interview, ask questions related to the person's values. Try to determine if they are more or less like the best employees you currently have on the team.
Make sure to project the culture of your healthy workplace: make it clear and verbalize to the new potential hire, that we do not allow infighting, gossip or game-playing. Set an example of enthusiasm, dedication and a positive attitude. Recognize individuals and teams within the organization when they achieve. Pay them well and offer great benefits. Test your own policies to make certain they help protect the culture you wish to develop and don't conflict with it.
And when you do make an offer, make sure to get a commitment. As we all know, depending on the time of year that a person comes on board, they may experience the first few weeks or even a month or so of a seasonally slow time. If they don't stick around long enough, they may never realize how good it can be when the entire year is over, and the dust settles over their total income picture. I always ask each candidate if he or she can give me a minimum of a one-year commitment. I never hire anyone who will not look me in the eye and give me that promise.
Superior Service Advising
One of the easiest ways that you can make a big difference in your shop is to change your notion about what makes a good service adviser. Believe it or not, a good service adviser does not have to have a good knowledge of cars. Some of the best service advisers I have hired in my shop have absolutely no automotive experience at all because their primary job isn't to know how a car works.
In our shop, anyway, their job is to provide excellent customer service, and to take the time with every customer so that they can make an informed decision about a recommended repair.
Yes, knowing about cars is important, but that information can be taught. Having excellent customer service skills, on the other hand, can't be taught as easily.
I meant what I said about hiring people with no automotive experience ... it works. Case in point: In the past, I hired some of my best service advisers away from their jobs as a gas station attendant, a Burger King assistant manager, and a grocery store produce manager.
I've also found that when I hire for customer service specialists over seasoned automotive industry advisers, they're much less likely to "burn out" quickly because they're used to providing great service to even the most unpleasant customers.
When You're Hiring Technicians
When you're thinking about hiring a new technician, however, make sure you're getting the most highly qualified tech you can find. For example, the first question we ask in an interview is "Are you ASE certified?" If they're not, they won't become a tech in our shop. The following are the 21 questions we ask in every technician interview:
The idea here is to get the interviewee to open up and talk. So do not just read through the question and accept a "yes" or "no" answer; it's important that you use these to open up a dialogue so you may begin to get a "feel" for who this person sitting across from you might truly be, and how they might fit within your organization. If you just coldly ask questions and record answers, you might as well not ask them at all.
Remember also that some people interview very well, but are not nearly so cooperative and helpful once they are hired. One of the ways I avoid being caught up in that is to make certain that every reference is checked, and that all references are from previous employers, not "guys they worked with in the past." Who cares how many other techs or service writers a guy can convince to say nice things about him? I am only interested in what the previous bosses have to say.
We all know that the previous employers are not supposed to reveal anything in the reference call, but there's a key to getting the feedback you need to make an informed decision. It's all in how you ask, and it's up to you to read between the lines. For instance, I don't ask if the candidate is eligible for rehire. I ask, "If you could only have one [technician/service writer/bookkeeper], would this person be likely to make it into the position?"
The hesitation - or outright laughter - is often all the answer I need to know that there was something much less than perfect about this supervisor's experience with their former employee. Many times it's possible to get the previous employer to open up if you do a good job of building rapport with them over the telephone before asking key questions anyway.
Hiring the right people doesn't have to be difficult - and it goes a long way toward making your shop successful. As long as you begin the process knowing exactly the type of person who will help make your shop successful, you can help prevent staff turnaround and save thousands of dollars in the long run.
If you'd like to learn more about hiring the right people, I invite you to e-mail me anytime. My shop does upward of $3 million every year with six techs and an apprentice, and the people I've hired are a big reason why we're able to sustain those kinds of numbers.
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