One of the primary places a dealership can lose money without ever noticing it is in recruiting, interviewing and hiring of the wrong personnel. The costs associated with the hiring process tend to be much more multifaceted than you would find in other areas of business. You have the costs of advertising and recruiting, the costs of a hiring manager’s time, loss productivity until the position is filled and eventually the costs of starting the process over again if you hire the wrong person and they leave the dealership. But how do we find a way to cut these costs? By making sure the people who perform hiring functions know what they are doing.
Several national surveys have shown that only a small minority of automotive dealerships have dedicated human resources professionals or recruiters working for them. Typically, we’ll find instead the sales manager hiring the salespeople, the service manager hiring service technicians and the office manager hiring the administrative staff. This is both advantageous and disadvantageous. It benefits the dealership because you have the people who will directly supervise the new hire and who are most familiar with the job conducting the hiring process. It can also be a problem because these managers aren’t necessarily good at interviewing and hiring.
Let me explain through an example. Look to your sales managers. How did they arrive in their current position? More often than not, sales managers are former salespeople who by selling well, getting along with everyone and showing initiative to advance are promoted to the manager position. That does not mean they understand how to interview and hire. It’s not their fault though; few people know how. It’s often just assumed that if someone is a manager, that they can handle the interviewing and hiring process.
Think back to the first time you were required to interview and hire someone. Did you know what to do? Probably not. In fact, it could have been that the only interview you had ever participated in was one where you were the interviewee. When you held your first interview to hire did you end up hiring the best possible candidate? Maybe you did, but it’s unlikely. Statistics show that first time interviewers rarely hire the best candidates.
So am I telling you that your current managers are incapable of hiring correctly? Not at all. What I’m trying to point out is that interviewing and hiring are skills need to be developed just like any other skill. Only two things can prepare someone for a task they have to perform; experience and education.
As an HR generalist for a company consisting of multiple business units, it’s not uncommon for me to review 100 or more resumes and applications each week. Nor would it be unusual for me to conduct a dozen interviews in one week. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that in a given year, I might interview more people than many managers will interview in their entire careers. I point this out not to brag but rather to illustrate one of the main reasons why HR professionals tend to be better and more efficient at hiring employees. We have experience.
Additionally, most human resources professionals have education in the field. Many will have college degrees specifically tailored to human resources management. They attend conferences, seminars and conventions to keep up on the latest trends and methods related to hiring and selection. They put considerable time and effort into performing the main duties of their jobs, just like anyone else might in any other position.
These two things, experience and education, are the reason why someone in the human resources field will do things differently, and often better, when it comes to hiring compared to someone who is primarily responsible for sales, service or anything else. Should you start searching for a human resources manager right away then? Probably not. The basic rule of thumb in the human resources field is that a company needs one full-time human resources professional for every 100 employees they have. Most automotive dealerships will fall under this benchmark, so probably, it will not apply.
So without hiring a human resource person for your dealership, how can you address this potential lack of skills in your hiring managers? By making sure they receive the experience and education necessary to perform the tasks in front of them. You need to develop a plan to make your hiring managers as good at interviewing and hiring as they are at all of the other things that caused you to put them in their current position today.
Education is probably the easier of the two to address. When a new manager is hired or promoted to a position, make sure interviewing and hiring skills are included in their training. Take them through the process of recruiting, interviewing and hiring in the manner you want it done, and make sure they understand each step. If you do not feel that you are skilled enough to teach the necessary skills then look to outside sources and agencies. Most state and local employment agencies offer training seminars for companies to send their employees free of charge. Have your managers attend the most appropriate seminars. If you need more than what free training will provide, start by looking for local training companies that can provide what you need. A good place to start looking for these is to contact your local chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and ask them who they’d recommend. SHRM local chapters can be found by visiting http://www.shrm.org/.
The second area, experience, is the harder of the two to develop because it is really just a matter of time. The more interviews a manager conducts, and the more hiring they do, the better they’ll become. With practice they will be able to identify the characteristics necessary for successful job placements and learn to weed out the candidates who are not a good fit. So in an effort to give your hiring managers more experience, I advocate paired and cross-area interviewing. Have your sales manager conduct the interview for a salesperson along with your office manager. When the office manager is interviewing for a title clerk, have the sales manager be involved.
There are a variety of reasons why this is useful technique. A second person in the interview might notice something the other didn’t notice. It fosters teamwork between individuals and departments and helps cross-train managers. The primary reason to do this is to give your managers more experience in the interviewing and hiring process because it’s the only way they can master these skills. As they say, practice makes perfect.
By making sure that your hiring managers have the experience and education necessary to perform the hiring and interviewing process, you can make their jobs easier, thereby freeing them up to handle other issues. Their focus can be on sales and service, which bring revenue into the dealership rather than on a repeating cycle of hiring and interviewing that ultimately leads to wasted time and money. By recognizing there are financial benefits of having trained and experienced hiring managers, we can then take the necessary steps to stop that profit loss from ever occurring.
Vol 3, Issue 4
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