Automotive dealerships spend a significant amount of budget on advertising to attract qualified consumer leads and, as a result, sell more vehicles. But ultimately, your dealership employees are much more important than advertising or any other collateral used to get customers in the door. No matter how much research customers complete online or how many times they’re targeted by your dealership ads, they’ll still have to interact with your dealership employees in order to make a final purchase. And if they don’t have a great experience with your dealership employees, your prospective customers might bring their business to a competing dealership.
When it comes to remaining profitable at a time of diminishing profit margins and competition from disruptive business models, it’s critical for you to focus on building your best team of dealership employees. Here are several tips to turn your employees into a source of competitive advantage.
Maintain a Strong Dealership Employment Brand
Less than 1 percent of job seekers in the U.S. would consider working at an auto dealership, according to The 2017 Cox Automotive Dealership Staffing Study. Part of the reason for this is, many dealerships lack a strong – or any – employment brand. If you go to most dealership websites, they likely don’t have dedicated career pages – or their career pages are limited. In particular, many dealerships simply post jobs on their websites but don’t answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” for potential applicants – such as highlighting benefits and career paths for various roles.
To build and maintain a strong employment brand, make sure you clearly highlight the benefits your dealership has to offer employees – including vacation time, certification reimbursement, a tool allowance for service technicians, and more. Also build out career paths on your career site, so prospective employees can see ways to rise through the ranks from entry level to management positions. And make sure you’re continuously sharing engaging content – such as videos, photos and employee testimonials, to get potential applicants excited about the possibility of working for your dealership.
Think about the last time your dealership had a job opening. How did you promote the open role? In many cases, dealers buy single, costly online job board postings, which isn’t effective from a budget perspective. To optimize job board spending, you should get smarter about sourcing by diversifying your recruitment channels to more than 1-2 sources. While the most qualified candidates are likely to come in through your career site, over time, casting a wider net across job boards, social feeds and local classified ads enables you to reach quality candidates through more sources. Diverse sourcing also enables you to save money that otherwise would have been spent on a single costly job board posting.
Once you have a sourcing strategy in place, it’s important to measure the success of each of your sourcing channels – and eliminate the job boards that don’t result in quality candidates or eventual hires. To calculate the ROI of your sourcing channels, divide the total costs of each channel by the number of quality applicants you receive. This will give you a cost per candidate, which is helpful for comparing different job boards and other networks that might have different pricing models.
To set your team up for long term success, always keep at least a few jobs posted on your career site – even if you don’t have an immediate opening. Continuous job openings show your dealership is successful and growing, and can help you capture strong, passive candidates when you least expect it. On the other hand, a lack of job openings posted on your career site can make your brand growth look stagnant, potentially turning away top candidates – and even customers.
In addition to showing your brand is growing, a continuous hiring strategy can help you build your best team and improve the customer experience by avoiding reactive hiring. Many dealerships wait until they have an immediate need to begin the hiring process, but by always hiring, you can have a steady flow of applicants. A network of applicants means you can make quicker, higher quality hires, ultimately ensuring your current employees don’t face burn out, your company doesn’t keep bad hires around for too long, and you don’t make a rash hiring decision to fill an open role. And since many dealership roles – including sales and service team members – require several hires throughout the year, it makes sense to keep roles open in the event your dealership grows or an employee leaves.
Interacting with your employees is the final step, most critical step in the car buying journey, and the customer experience has a significant impact on whether or not customers go through with the final sale. To learn more about how you can build the best team possible at your dealership, download our eBook, “Planning for People in Retail Automotive.”