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Digital Dealer Overview – Generational Recruiting

I am finally at the last recap from the Digital Dealer Conference; it was indeed an eye-opening event but some of the luster has worn off in the months since I attended. Perhaps the most tangible benefit that the conference offered was that it got me reading Avinash Kaushik’s blog, which in turn led me to sign up for Market Motive, an online program that teaches all about digital marketing, SEO, online presence, etc. I would highly recommend that someone in your organization go through the courses in this program as it has done wonders for my understanding of how the internet works and what needs to be done in order to maximize returns online.

In my last session of the Digital Dealer Conference, Meghan Musbach from Career Builder talked about generational recruiting or more specifically, how to recruit young folk. She started by pointing out the huge discrepancy in supply and demand for technicians. This perked my ears up as this is a constant discussion in our 20-Group meetings; unfortunately, there was no golden nugget of knowledge presented on how to recruit technicians. There were, however, some interesting numbers presented on this subject: 34% of technicians are over 45 years old, more techs are leaving workforce than are joining by as much as 25%, and there were over 125K additional technician jobs added to the market in the last two years.

Musbach also discussed the motivations and expectations of the millennial generation, always a fun and perplexing topic for non-millennials. Aside from the many points of millennials being the “trophy generation” (everyone got one) and technology dependent, she also pointed out some of the positive ways that this generation can be viewed (though I cannot legitimize most of the generalizations made). Evidently millennials are loyal to those that provide opportunity so they can be trained and developed to succeed as long as their abilities are respected and advancement is truly a possibility. Moreover, they are not worried about the auto industry’s perception and can be enticed by organizations using a modern sales process. These points suggest that the most important aspect of recruiting for a car dealership is a matter of marketing rather than HR. Younger generations that do not grow up with a connection to the auto industry have absolutely no idea what working for a dealership entails. In order to attract and retain the right people, dealerships need to do a better job explaining what it is like to work there. Job postings should include a link to your website where there should be copious amounts of information concerning dealership culture, daily activity, advancement opportunities, pay plan, etc. Current employees should have testimonials about their experience. Anything you can do to provide the recruit with more insight into why they would want to work at a dealership (aside from the money) will help your cause.

Obviously this kind of focus will bring in fresh recruit who will need to be developed from scratch. But why should this be an issue? We know that veterans bring bad habits with them and it is nearly impossible to break these habits. Sure it will take time to create a great salesperson, technician or advisor, but Musbach suggests that you will not only have staff members that are trained how to do things right (at least according to you), they will be more loyal to your organization as a result. Recruiting is an area that should be a much bigger focus for this particular reason – you have to plan beyond the traditional “I need someone that can jump in now” strategy. Here are some other points brought up during the session:

• Know the trade schools and make relationships with anyone you can. Find out how many techs are graduating, who is the top of the class, etc.

• Make sure your “employment brand” resonates with the audience; your job posting should match your ideal recruit in terms of message and language.

• Calculate your cost per hire to determine your true investment. Also recognize that millennials will relocate; you may find that it is worth the extra investment for the right person.

• Having multiple stores can be a strong selling point regarding advancement opportunities (it is not always good to be a “family-owned business” as that can suggest limited opportunities).

• Look outside the automotive industry: department stores, restaurants, electronics stores, independent lube and tire shops, and many other professions are comparable and chock full of disloyal staff.

• Make sure your website has an easy application process available at all times. You should always be accepting applications and there is no reason to make a potential hire obtain a login or click through ten pages just to show their interest. Better, you can simply get the contact first and after qualifying the recruit ask for an application.

• Treat jobseekers like customers!

Throughout the presentation, I often balked at topics regarding training and development because I am also familiar with the great attrition rates of millennials (average tenure is around 1.5 years). But there are very few dealerships that I can point to that truly offer an attractive environment for the next generation. I think that most dealerships are going to have to undergo a pretty significant culture change if they hope to both recruit and retain these employees. Either that or they should start offering more trophies.

 

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