Why 2019 is the Year of the Job Applicant in Retail Automotive

By Beth Kempton,
January 9, 2019

With the New Year under way, now is as good a time as any to rethink your overall business goals and strategy. And one of the top priorities at your dealership should be having the right people on your team to drive profitability and top-notch customer service.

Today’s competitive hiring market means you need to sell applicants on the opportunity of joining your team, more so than expecting job seekers to convince your dealership to hire them. Below, we’ve outlined several reasons why 2019 is the year of the job applicant in retail automotive – and how your dealership can attract quality candidates to support your business success.

Few Job Seekers Are Interested in Retail Automotive Careers

Fewer than 1 percent of job seekers would consider working at a dealership. In many cases, this is because they have a misconception of working in retail automotive.

For example, job seekers with technical backgrounds might think working as a service technician simply means changing oil and completing other “wrench turning” tasks with limited opportunities for career growth. And those exploring potential sales roles might think they’ll end up having to constantly work nights and weekends to make enough commission.

These and other misconceptions of working at a dealership can cause your team’s talent pool to dwindle, making it challenging to fill your open roles and leading to lost profitability. In fact, for each day your dealership has an open role, you’ll lose an average of $1,000 in gross profit. Because of this, you need to put in the effort to change the perception of working in retail automotive and secure top talent.

When it comes to service technicians, outline on your career site how fixed ops roles are now much more sophisticated than most people realize – and involve repairing sensors, high-tech engines and other technology found in most new cars today. According to one dealer, today’s service technicians receive such in-depth training that they have the same skills as computer engineers. Also highlight examples of team members who have risen through the ranks in your fixed ops department, so job seekers who wouldn’t have otherwise considered a career at a dealership can get excited about the possibility of joining your team. By taking these extra steps, you can attract motivated, tech savvy job seekers who would have instead considered roles in other industries.

On the sales side, your dealership should consider offering more flexible scheduling and rethinking your pay plans. While nights and weekends are among the busiest times for your dealership, consider offering at least some flexibility – such as letting sales staff work one Saturday per month or allowing employees to take some time off as needed for family and personal responsibilities. And to entice job seekers who are concerned about high commission roles, consider making the switch to base plus bonus plans, as AutoNation and other dealerships across the country have done.

Shifting to a more consistent pay plan instead of relying on commission will give job seekers and your current employees peace of mind. Instead of the stress of worrying about their bills and performance, they can focus their energy on selling to customers without being pushy or overly hostile. But to ensure success, your dealership should provide enough onboarding and training so your team feels confident about meeting their monthly quotas and providing great customer service. To attract top candidates, make sure your base plus bonus pay structure is highlighted in your job descriptions and on your career site.

Unemployment Remains at a Historic Low

In addition to few job seekers being interested in dealership careers, the low unemployment rate poses another hiring challenge. The total unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percent in December, to 3.9 percent. Despite the slight increase, this is still a historic low, making the hiring market highly competitive for employers across industries. In fact, a report from Goldman Sachs predicts that unemployment will only continue to decrease, reaching 3 percent by early-to-mid 2020.

Given the low unemployment rate, there are more open roles across the country than their is talent to fill them, meaning your dealership is competing with employers not only in retail automotive but from outside the industry to secure top talent.

How can your dealership stand out from other employers to capture the attention of quality job seekers? One of the most important steps you can take is building a strong employment brand. The most successful, engaged employees are looking for far more than simply an exchange of time for money, meaning you need to address more than simply salary and basic role requirements in your job descriptions and on your career site. Instead, you need to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question with strong, SEO-friendly job descriptions, a compelling career site, defined career paths across departments, employee testimonials and a comprehensive list of benefits.

Despite historic low unemployment, up to 90 percent of U.S. employees would be open to new career opportunities. Maintaining a strong, applicant-centric employment brand can help your dealership not only reach quality candidates who are actively looking for jobs, but can also enable you tap into another key applicant pool – passive job seekers who are looking for just the right opportunity to consider leaving their current roles.

Changing the perception of retail automotive careers and maintaining a strong employment brand can help your dealership win today’s applicant economy and hire top talent. Ultimately, this will lead to increased productivity and profitability at your dealership, as well as improved customer service. For more information on what today’s job seeker expectations in retail automotive, read our resource, “Win The Applicant Economy: What Today’s Top Talent Demands from Dealership Roles.”



About the Author

Beth is the content strategist on Hireology’s marketing team, responsible for creating compelling blog posts, eBooks, marketing materials and other content. Her background includes five years of experience at a B2B digital marketing agency, where she crafted content for a variety of clients, including several in the HR technology space. Before beginning her career, Beth attended Loyola University Chicago, where she studied advertising and public relations.

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