It seems almost every week, a new dealership acquisition is announced – if not more. And any time a new dealership is acquired, it also means acquiring the dealership’s people. This can pose some challenges, such as differing job expectations, a culture clash, and the need to train employees on your dealership’s systems and processes.
How can you ensure you have the best team in place to make the post-acquisition transition run smoothly? We’ve pulled together several tips to keep in mind.
Run Background Checks on All Employees
Whether or not the acquired dealership completed background checks for each employee before they started, it’s best to be on the safe side and re-screen all staff members who weren’t already employed by your dealership. Your dealership has no way of knowing how thorough the previous background checks were, or what might have happened with the employees since then. Ensuring each new employee passes a background check can save your dealership from potential liability down the road.
Onboard as You Would with New Employees
Following an acquisition, make sure to formally onboard all employees from the acquired dealership. Even if some of the employees are top sales team members or longtime service techs, they still need to learn the inner workings of your dealership, as you likely have different processes and a different culture in place. And completing onboarding paperwork will help you have all bases covered when it comes to verifying employee work eligibility and setting up payroll.
Send employees from the acquired dealership any paperwork you can digitally before the first day. Doing so will save new employees time and money, keep employees engaged during the transition and ensure employees aren’t lined up at the HR office once the acquisition closes. These forms can include: personal contact information, a direct deposit form, tax forms, I-9 verification, and the employee handbook and any relevant training documents.
Once the employees are officially employed by your dealership, kick off training sessions right away. Have department managers or your general manager provide an overview of the dealership and what is expected of employees. Then, train your employees on any processes, technology, tools and goals they need to know depending on the role and department. Continue training on a regular basis and hold all staff accountable to reaching their goals so you can rest assured knowing new employees have what it takes to succeed at your dealership.
Take Inventory of HR Systems
Some dealerships use up to a dozen different systems to manage HR efforts, while others might use centralized talent management platform. Take stock of which systems the acquired dealership has in place, such as the following: applicant tracking system, onboarding platform, timesheet tracker, scheduling platform, payroll platform, 401k provider, compliance management, and more. Are any of the systems the same as yours? What are the pros and cons of the systems the acquired dealership has in place? If your systems and processes are more efficient, consider rolling out the systems you have in place across all locations. Or, you might find that the acquired dealership has a more efficient talent management system in place, in which case, you might want to adopt it at your dealership.
Follow a Standardized Hiring Process
In the event of any acquisition, some employee turnover is expected. Certain employees might not want to go through with the transition to a new employer, while others might either not pass a background check or show poor performance that doesn’t live up to your dealership’s standards in the first few months. A standardized hiring process can help your dealership – including any newly acquired locations – stay fully staffed.
A continuous hiring strategy offers a proactive approach: you can hire new employees in anticipation of the need, not once it’s already a problem. This approach leaves your current team more productive and happy, and saves your business time and money in the long run. To be more proactive, make sure you keep roles open on your career site at all times – especially for roles you fill often, such as service technicians and sales staff. No matter your hiring needs, set aside time each week to review, and even interview, recent applicants so you can have a pipeline of candidates each time a hiring need arises.
Make New Employees Feel Welcome
While you can’t do a complete overhaul of your dealership policies or culture, make new employees feel welcome when possible – so the change doesn’t feel completely drastic. For example, did the acquired dealership participate in a certain community outreach program on a regular basis, or did employees receive recognition for going above and beyond their goals? Adopting at least a few of the small customs from the acquired dealership will make your new employees feel valued and like part of the team.
An acquisition is exciting for any dealership, but it’s critical to not let anything fall through the cracks during the transition. For more information on building the best team at your dealership – no matter the situation – download our eBook, “Planning for People in Retail Automotive.”