2017 Hiring Trends That Will Impact Your Dealership

It’s more important than ever to focus on building the right team and an exceptional workplace culture

With the year wrapping up, now is the ideal time to evaluate whether or not your dealership met all of the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Are the sales and service teams that you started the year with still intact, or have they changed multiple times? How did that impact your business’ overall performance? Looking forward to the New Year, here are several hiring trends within the industry that will impact your dealership’s bottom line.

Fixed ops: More important than ever

The common refrain over the past year has been that auto sales have peaked. Dealerships planning for a profitable 2017 are, out of necessity, focusing their attention on revenue drivers within their operation.

A high-performing service department will continue bringing customers in the door, but turnover and less-than-qualified candidates can threaten that delicate balance. If and when a dealership’s focus shifts from the sales floor to the service department, it is important to fine-tune your hiring process.

Bringing together a high-caliber team of service technicians will not only help your dealership remain competitive, it will lead to a loyal customer base.

Shift toward product specialists

Let’s face it: Millennials and Gen Y’ers aren’t shopping for cars the same way their parents did. This generation prefers to do research online before stepping into your dealership. Next-gen customers already know what they want and how much they want to pay, and aren’t interested in the traditional sales approach.

To accommodate these new customers, dealerships are differentiating themselves by adopting the product specialist position, whose primary role is to help and educate customers on the latest features and options available. Once a customer is ready to make a purchase, the product specialist passes the buyer directly to a sales manager to close the sale.

Filling the role of a product specialist will present new hiring challenges, and require a more refined hiring process to adequately source suitable candidates.

Focus on workforce selection and retention

According to the 2016 NADA Workforce Study, dealerships are continuing to deal with above-average turnover. In fact, 40% of turnover happens within the first three months on the job.

Turnover can greatly reduce monthly gross profit and productivity, and result in higher recruitment costs due to increased job postings and time spent interviewing, as well as money spent on background checks. The revolving door at most dealerships is symptomatic of an undefined hiring process.

Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities for every job will greatly improve the pool of qualified applicants. Furthermore, a consistent and thorough interview process ensures that hiring managers are making objective hiring decisions.

Embrace more diverse talent

The coming year will see the largest ever cohort of millennials entering the workforce. This younger workforce presents new challenges for dealerships, which will continue to find room for improvement when it comes to evaluating their hiring and retention outcomes.

The NADA study also found that women accounted for only 20% of new hires across dealerships, and that the attrition rate of female sales associates was an astonishing 88%.

With women often being the predominant decision-makers when making a car-buying choice, it stands to reason that having women on the sales floor will work to a dealership’s advantage. We predict that progressive operators will make a concerted effort toward making the dealership work environment a more diverse one.

The struggle to find qualified applicants

The auto industry faces unique hiring challenges. Chief among them is finding qualified candidates.

With experienced technicians beginning to retire in droves, there will be a high demand for candidates to replace them. The problem: There aren’t enough people with the right technical experience to make an immediate impact.

Complicating matters even more is a changing education market, which continues to shift away from vocational training. Hiring managers will encounter younger workers who are either uninterested or uninformed about career possibilities aligned with technical education.

Dealerships will have to learn how to compete for the limited amount of technical talent. A big key to attracting this talent will be dependent on a dealership’s hiring process.

A well-defined hiring process means taking a consistent approach to sourcing, screening, and onboarding for all departments in your dealership. While the auto industry is preparing for an eventual decline in unit volumes, it is more important than ever for dealerships to focus on building the right team and an exceptional workplace culture.

Adam Robinson is the cofounder and CEO of Hireology—the leading provider of employee selection management technology—which works with more than 400 automotive dealerships to streamline and improve their hiring process, resulting in smarter hiring and a stronger company. Follow him on Twitter @adrobins. For information about creating a better team, visit www.hireology.com.

Adam Robinson


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