Repair Shop Success: Mapping out hiring process & establishing goals crucial

Bruce Howes

This month we pick up from where we left off.

Let’s focus on the next step of a professional hiring process.

Hopefully your efforts have brought in a good number of quality candidates to interview, and after phone screening, you have developed a solid list to invite in.

With that list in hand, we are going to discuss how to select the best and the brightest, introduce an enchanted interview process that will tap the resources of your current team members, and then finish with the process to successfully integrate your new hire into your organization.

Three-Step Hiring Process

Once you’ve narrowed the candidates, I’ve found a three-step hiring process works best.

On the initial phone interview, I will personally screen the candidate for the right skills, attitude and character to be a good match to our staffing needs.

Next, I invite the candidate into our facility, meet him or her personally, and then set up a private meeting with some of our team members.

In essence, the team conducts the second part of the interview, without owner or management present. It’s truly a peer-on-peer interview. And these can either become very informative. Or very entertaining.

Most candidates are shocked that we let them speak privately with our team members prior to hiring. It, however, becomes a relaxed atmosphere. With their guard down, the true personality of the candidate comes out.

In essence, my employees do the screening and make the hiring decision. I have, in fact, rarely made a hire against the advice of my team. After a short time together, they usually have the pulse of the candidate.

I might pay for a group lunch, or do it after hours, as long as the forum is relaxed.

It almost always brings us the best qualified candidate.

The ‘Working Interview’

If at all possible, we want the new candidate to do what we term a “working interview.”

The purpose of the working interview process is to allow potential candidates to be fully immersed in the culture and responsibilities of employment at our facility.

It also allows our staff to evaluate the candidate’s performance and skill set in real-world conditions. In addition, it gives a quick indication of true skill level and work process.

This working interview is a trial period only, lasting one week or less.

The candidate signs a “Working Interview” form. It details this process, so no guarantee of employment is to be expressed or assumed.

As outlined on the form, the candidate is compensated during this period, at an agreed-upon rate.

Contingent upon candidate performance, additional working interview periods may be granted until a hiring decision is made.

Ensuring the ‘Right Hire’

In the car world, one might call this a “test drive.” In the employment world, it’s a well-proven technique to assure that the right hire is made.

It prevents a candidate from leaving current employment, only to find that he or she aren’t able to thrive in their new work environment.

For the employer, it allows an opportunity to “get a look under the hood” prior to making to making a finalized hiring decision.

Next we’ll talk about how to onboard the team member, and set them up for success.

‘Onboarding’ New Team Member

Once we’ve made the hiring decision and agreed on compensation, the next steps are what we call “onboarding.”

During this step, we set goals and expectations with the new team member.

We help them map out their career and training path with the organization.

This can be as simple as 30-, 60- and 90-day “goal plans,” with firm milestones noted. It can be as complex as establishing a specialized education path for the next three years.

I’d actually encourage you to do both, if possible.

The 30/60/90 plan is rather simple. It involves setting standards of production, skills confirmation or training.

This can be done via online tests or videos. It also can be completed directly in the workshop under the auspices of a senior technician.

The important thing to understand with this process is that you are setting the candidate up for success, not creating a fail path.

Measuring Success

Success must be measured. Be sure to set a firm set of review dates for each period to meet with the new team member.

During these review times, sit down with the team member. Ideally, this meeting is set in a non-threatening environment.


Perhaps you can take them to lunch, review their progress and map out a path forward.

These should always be a positive, uplifting meetings. They should be encouraging rather that discouraging for your candidate.

Remember, you’re working to set candidates up for success.

They should be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

Remember that the 30/60/90 day “goal plans” aren’t established to have them fail.

Far from it.

The process is established to set them up for success by assuring critical skills and knowledge aren’t overlooked.

Generally these are “front loaded,” with the most critical tasks being scheduled at 30 days, and become progressively lighter.

Importance of Milestones

The milestones allow you to see the candidate is progressing well toward expectations. They help notify you of additional training or skills needed should those expectations not be met.

In other words, it’s about investing in your candidate, building them up to fully meet the requirements of the job.

Goals not accomplished in the first 30 days are then moved to the 60-day window along with the other 60-day tasks. That’s so when the candidate hits 90 days, all the requisite skills and standards have been met.

You should always expect that some of the initial goals won’t be met.

If you have a robust plan, and that is OK, just move those forward to the next period.

Add any additional goals that might have developed.


Importance of Team Building

Finding quality staff members is never easy.

The initial 30 days often set the tone of their success or failure in your organization.

Their opinion of your operation and your team will be formed extremely early.

Use this time to set them up for success and to begin to invest in your new team member.

Investing in your team, making them both feel and see they are valued, is the key to to employee longevity and success.

We often overlook that the most precious resource we have as business owners, is our “human capital,” and we fail to acknowledge and nurture it.

A simple morning walk about the shop, stopping by and saying “hello” … or asking about a team member’s family … or special interest … the occasional team lunch … or surprise box of donuts … will go a long way to putting meaning into our words.

I like to think we truly have two sets of customers, on both sides of the service counter.

We must please them both, developing an affirmative and just culture, if we are to succeed in our business.

From a personal side, I find it exceptionally rewarding to be able to see, mentor, and assist in the progress of those who aren’t just team but now family.

Next month we’ll be moving onto discussing the development of a business culture that motivates, rewards, and empowers your new team.