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Survey: How Leading Dealerships Are Weathering the 2021 Hiring Crisis

If you’re struggling to fill the open roles at your dealership, you’re not alone. Today’s hiring crisis is impacting businesses of all shapes and sizes — and dealerships are no exception.

Many of the folks who lost their jobs at the onset of the pandemic are choosing to either remain unemployed or are opting for new career paths, making it tough for companies that were forced to eliminate much of their staff in March of 2020 to return to pre-pandemic staffing levels.

At Hireology, we surveyed roughly 200 of our auto dealership customers to determine exactly how dealerships today are adjusting to overcome many of these unprecedented hiring obstacles. The results show that although the pandemic was a temporary crisis, it sparked permanent changes in the behaviors of both job seekers and employers. As a result, dealerships are making significant changes to their hiring and staffing practices to win and remain competitive in the new post-pandemic norm.

We broke down the results of the survey into four big trends:

Dealerships are operating with less

One of the most interesting findings of the survey was that most dealerships are not planning to backfill all of the roles they eliminated at the onset of the pandemic. While 75% of respondents said they eliminated less than 20% of their staff at the time, a staggering 71% said they are not planning to backfill all of those roles. That means that the majority of dealerships are moving forward with about 20% fewer employees on staff than they did before the pandemic. 

A big reason why this is possible is that dealerships have figured out how to do more with less. Because of social distancing guidelines, many were forced to embrace more efficient sales processes — operating by appointment only or doing more of the process online — which actually made way for more sales with less overhead. And although the pandemic is easing up, dealerships are realizing that this way of operating is actually more effective, thus the trend is here to stay.

The Delta variant and the chip shortage are not impacting hiring

The effects of COVID-19 have lingered far beyond what we might have imagined in March of 2020. The auto industry is dealing with a pandemic-induced chip shortage that has significantly reduced the availability of new cars. And new virus resurgences like the most recent Delta variant have impacted reopening plans.

However, most dealerships have indicated that these setbacks are not impacting hiring. Ninety percent of dealerships say the Delta variant has not impacted hiring in any way, while 73% say the same about the chip shortage. Only about 19% of respondents say they are reducing the number of open positions due to the chip shortage.

The temporary nature of these events is likely why many dealerships have not drastically shifted their hiring efforts in response. Knowing how difficult it is to hire, many dealerships likely feel it would be unwise to take those roles off the market only to have to reopen them once these issues run their course.

The ideal auto industry worker has changed

One reason why many dealerships were able to drive more profits with fewer employees is because those who did remain on staff were the best of the best. These folks had a wide range of skills and were generally more productive than the average pre-pandemic worker. So when it comes to post-pandemic hiring, many dealerships are looking to fill their new roles with the same type of folks. According to our study 38% of dealerships have changed job descriptions in order to attract job seekers with different types of skills and experiences.

If you’re considering doing the same, here are some skills to be sure you include in your job descriptions — particularly for roles on the sales side:

  • Good grasp of tech
  • Communication skills
  • Desire to grow
  • Resourcefulness
  • Experienced but not necessarily in the auto space

New ways to attract talent are here to stay

Because of the applicant shortage, many dealerships are also making changes to what they offer their employees in order to attract top talent. The most common change dealerships have made is offering higher pay (57%), followed by posting jobs on a wider variety of channels (53%). 

What channels are they using? About 37% of respondents said their top source of talent is job boards (e.g., ZipRecruiter), followed by 33% who said career sites drive the most hires for their dealership. Three in four respondents (76%) also said that they have an employee referral program at their dealership — 32% of which say these programs drive more than 20% of their new hires.

Although many of these changes — such as diversifying your sources or aiming to connect with different types of talent — can be incredibly effective, they’re also difficult to execute using outdated hiring processes and tools. Modern talent management platforms that allow you to recruit, hire, and manage employees from one centralized system make it easier to not only connect with a wider range of talent but also move them through your hiring process and get them on board much faster. 

Learn how Hireology helps nearly one in every four dealerships enhance their hiring processes by scheduling a free demo today.

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