The biggest challenge shop owners face isn’t car count, or margins, or even sales. The biggest challenge shop owners face is staffing and keeping employees.
The shortage of skilled technicians is already a challenge, but many owners make the hiring process harder on themselves than it should be. By avoiding the following top 5 hiring mistakes I see shop owners make, you can not only streamline your hiring process but more easily find—and keep—great people:
1. Not Having a Great Interview Process
You’ve received an application that, on paper, looks good. You arrange for the applicant to come in for an interview. Then what? Do you have pre-planned questions that will give you insight into not just their skills but their work ethic and attitude? Did you practice with someone else so you feel confident? Many shop owners don’t prepare properly for interviews; the result is the shop owner does a lot of the talking and fails to gather this valuable information.
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2. Failing to Check References
Making contact with previous employers is a must-do. While the previous employer is legally only allowed to share a few details, you can ask You want to know if the employee followed company policies and if they would rehire them. You can try to get additional information (are they punctual? A team player? Work well with others? Skill set?). If the applicant was a great employee, most employers are willing to share details. If they would not rehire, take that seriously and ask the applicant for more information.
3. Failing to Recruit Until It’s an Emergency
Don’t wait until you have to fill a position right now to look for a tech or service writer; your chances of making a bad hiring decision increase when you are under the gun. Place job ads and get the word out about the career opportunities at your shop all year round. This is called “building your bench” so that you have a folder full of quality, vetted applicants to reach out to when an opening occurs.
4. Not Having a Great Orientation/On-Boarding Process
Even the best employees take some time to settle into new routines, new standard operating procedures and learning how you do things at your shop. Disorganized employment and payroll paperwork, lack of training for the shop management system, and not taking time to properly walk them through how to use the equipment, scanners, digital inspection tablets – as well as meet and greet their fellow team members – will result in unnecessary lag time before your new employee can be fully integrated and productive.
5. No Clear Expectations
At a minimum, your employee handbook (you have one, right?) should address when they should be at work, lunch schedule, benefits, and any labor laws specific to your state. It should also address how you want employees to interact and how you want conflicts handled. Beyond that, each employee should have specific goals and expectations for their role in the shop. Service Advisors should have sales goals and a time frame for achieving them after completing the training. Technicians should have productivity goals based on their skill level. If you don’t set clear expectations for what success looks like, you can’t be angry when they don’t hit them.
Shop owners who create strong hiring procedures don’t have to worry about gathering and keeping a great team. At ATI, we teach independent shop owners how to recruit, train, and develop effective, productive teams to take their shop to the next level.
At ATI, we help owners achieve their goals through one-on-one coaching, in-depth training, and ongoing support and resources. Check out our free webinar for more information.