Attract Automotive Dealership Talent: 7 Things You Can Do Today

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Attracting better talent to your automotive dealership isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a critical part of your growth strategy. The automotive industry is facing a talent shortage of epic proportions from salespeople to technicians and mechanics. Since 2013, employee turnover rates at automotive dealerships have been steadily rising year over year.

With this shortage creating more job opportunities with fewer qualified applicants, what can your dealership do to attract better talent and stem the turnover tide?

7 Ways to Attract Better Talent

But first a note on technology and turnover

Digital transformation is a term used across all industries to describe the shift from traditional, on-paper work to more efficient, online work. Businesses are adopting digital tools and platforms to streamline processes like sales, payments, communication, and file storage. Dealerships are not an exception to this rule.

Technology is at the center of transformation and evolution in our industry. From the cars, we make to the ways we sell them, to the way we communicate with our customers. It’s also an important part of keeping your talent According to a Cox Automotive study, tech plays a bigger role in turnover than you may think.

  • 25% of automotive dealership employees consider leaving their jobs because they don’t believe their dealership is headed in the right direction.
  • 61% of automotive dealership employees don’t believe their dealership is using the latest technology.
  • 12% of these same employees thing their dealership is way behind the times.

When we pair this with the knowledge that your incoming talent will be mostly MIllennials and Gen Z-ers, both generations who grew up on digital platforms, you begin to see how and why tech plays such a key role.

32% of Gen Z and 36% of Young Millennials are interested in working for a dealership. That figure is even higher when including roles outside of sales. (Source)

But, there’s more to it than just revving up your digital tool kit, there are a few other changes that need to be made to help ensure you attract and retain the right talent.

Create a good culture

“Company culture” is a phrase used more and more in articles, conversations, and books about modern companies. What company culture refers to is the way you create an environment at your dealership: from benefits to diversity to snacks and PTO, and even dress code, your company culture is a daily, visible example of how your company runs. It’s not just about the body of the company, it’s also about what’s under the hood.

If your dealership is stifling, rigid, and cold then that will be the way people perceive your brand. No one wants to work in a place where they can’t be creative, collaborative, and honest. Think about the adjectives you’d want people to use to describe your business and then start building from there. Ask employees and customers what they’d like to see, too, so you’re not making these big decisions in a vacuum.

Take your time hiring

This may seem counterintuitive because no doubt you have open positions that needed to have been filled yesterday. But, the cost of hiring and then having to fire a new employee outweighs the cost of taking your time to recruit, vet, and hire the right people.

A few things you can do to get this started:

  • Have current employees and managers make a list of the attributes and skill sets they want and need from their new co-workers.
  • Honestly evaluate the gaps in your current team, what is missing that’s holding you back from growth?
  • Be prepared to ask detailed questions. It’s not necessary that each new hire has every single skillset you need. Remember that you can teach a skill but you can’t teach perseverance, hard work, and honesty. Try to conduct interviews where you can honestly assess and learn more about your candidates.

Create incentives

One study found that 85% of employees take more initiative when they are happy with their job. (Source)

Happy employees are productive employees. Incentives like extra PTO, bonuses, and referral compensation give employees more drive to keep going even if they’re having a not-so-great day. Creating incentives is also a good way to motivate employees and leadership by creating a structure that rewards good, hard work. Not every incentive should be tied to sales, some could be tied to helping collect good online reviews, increasing customer satisfaction scores, or creating more content online about the dealership and its stock.

Creating fun goals to reach makes everyone feel just a little bit more excited to get into their day. Be sure to ask your team about things they care about so you can create incentives that actually motivate and excite them.

Give regular feedback

While occasional assessments are good, many employees feel like they don’t get regular feedback from their managers. An employee should never be shocked or surprised by what they’re told in a review because managers should keep an open dialogue with their team during both good times and bad. 

While 50% of automotive dealership employees say their manager meets with them regularly, there’s still another 50% that doesn’t. Creating an environment with open dialogue, regular feedback, and encouragement not only helps your current employees perform better but it creates a transparent culture that will help you attract new talent.

Set more meaningful goals

While your KPIs (key performance indicators) are linked to real sales numbers, it’s important to set other goals for your employees based on their skill levels and overall goals your dealership has set.

A more meaningful goal might be to increase their C-SAT scores or increase their proficiency in a certain skill. Employees (and businesses) thrive when they have a clear path to take, a way to advance their career, and tangible metrics for how they’re doing and where they can improve. 

Setting these up also makes it easier for leadership to more holistically assess the overall performance of the dealership and more easily identify areas that need improvement.

Don’t just manage sales, manage people

It’s your people that make the business. The vehicles are there, yes, but it’s the people who are selling and maintaining them. Make sure you’re working on ways to help manage the individuals in your dealership. Make them feel noticed and appreciated. If things need to be improved be honest but compassionate.

Customers can spot an unhappy employee from a mile away and if you have a floor full of them? You’ll see it the most in your sales numbers.

Adopt better tech

As mentioned earlier in this article, 61% of automotive dealership employees don’t believe their dealership is using the latest technology and 25% of automotive dealership employees consider leaving their jobs because they don’t believe their dealership is headed in the right direction.

Digital transformation is inevitable and while you may have already begun to adopt new technology to help your business run more smoothly and efficiently, odds are you’re not done yet. 

Investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that has automation tools, as well, can mean the difference between real, profitable change, and increased turnover and stagnation. 

What we know is that employees and leadership spend at least 8 hours a week trying to track down the information they need to do their jobs. Whether it’s contact information, client details, reporting, or marketing information, at the end of the year, you can count on the fact that each one of your employees has wasted at least 320 hours per person trying to find something they need. 

It’s not their fault, it’s the natural consequence of not having the right tools operating in the right way.  Here’s how adopting a CRM have help your dealership and your employees:

  1. Automate and organize communications like emails, text messages, and phone calls.
  2. Keep track of sales information and sell online.
  3. Analyze data aggregated by automated reporting tools so you spend more time evaluating and less time finding data.
  4. Get market info so you don’t have to guess at numbers and trends in your area.

Attracting and retaining new talent should be a top priority

Before we dive into the seven ways you can attract new talent to your dealership it’s important to note a few things:

  • Staying competitive and profitable requires you to adopt new mindsets and test new methods.
  • Hiring and retaining talent isn’t just about doing one of these 7 things, it’s about trying to integrate them all in a systematic way.
  • Regardless of what path you choose, technology does and will play an increasingly important role in your dealership’s ability to thrive and profit.

Interested in seeing how we’ve helped countless independent automotive dealerships become more efficient and more profitable? Contact us today to get more information.

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