Swim, don’t sink: Best practices for onboarding new hires at your dealership

Does your dealership have the right stuff to onboard new hires successfully?

Onboarding. You know. The process that occurs after you’ve made the hire and he or she is ready to start a new job with your dealership.

It’s not as simple as just assigning your new hire a desk and starting with administrative paperwork. The idea is to get that new hire up and running – and producing – for your business. And that may mean doing things differently than many dealerships are accustomed to operating.

062717 IL Swim, don’t sink Best practices for onboarding new hires at your dealership

“I think dealers and management teams are realizing that … if you invest in the people side of your business, you have a better, more profitable business. And all sorts of benefits accrue to the dealerships that get this stuff right,” said Adam Robinson, Hireology CEO, in a recent webcast produced by DealerOn, a website, optimization and digital advertising services company.

Hireology’s recruiting and hiring model has been adopted by 700 automotive dealerships in the United States and Canada and by more than 2,500 other companies worldwide.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that turnover among automotive sales consultants annually is about 67 percent – and as high as 72 percent among non-luxury sales consultants. That’s about 1.5 times the 46 percent total turnover the Bureau reports for the private sector.

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And a lot of that, according to Robinson, has to do with the way dealerships onboard new hires. For obvious reasons, the topic is especially important for onboarding sales consultants.

Here is Robinson’s advice for car dealerships who want to start – or improve – their onboarding process:

Customize onboarding for each position – The process and content will differ for a sales consultant versus a service technician, for example. “Nothing says value and respect more than a personalized onboarding program. Sixty-two percent of companies that have a solidified onboarding program experience faster time-to-productivity with 54 percent claiming to have better employee engagement.”

Eliminate your paper-based process – “There is no reason [with] all the technology at your fingertips, not to go completely paperless with employee onboarding.” On average, the dealership onboarding process takes around four hours via an offline, paper-based system. “Make it really easy for them to [provide] what you need from them and do it before they show up.”

Create a form-free first day by having new hires fill out all forms beforehand. “Eighty-three percent of high-performing organizations begin their onboarding prior to the new hire’s first day. … It makes sure their first day is a learning experience and moving forward and not doing administrative work.”

Set clear goals for new hires on Day 1 – Set expectations for 30, 60 and 90 days. “Sixty percent of companies fail to set any milestones or goals for new hires … [Setting expectations] changes this from an emotions-driven, un-transparent process to one that is fact-based, rational and fair for everybody.”

Make Day 1 great – “If you do nothing else, making that [new hire] feel great on Day 1 is the highest impact thing you can do, because when new hires take part in a structured onboarding process, 66 percent of them are likely to remain with a company for longer than three years.”

“A whopping 28 percent of all terminations happen within the first 90 days of employment,” said Robinson. “If you’re turning people over in 90 days as a manager, that’s on you. Consider who you’re hiring, or consider how you’re treating great people when they walk in the door.”

To hear more, listen to 5 Onboarding Best Practices that Save Time & Money at DealerOn.

We’ll have more soon about other practices that can help reduce turnover and associated costs in our series of blog posts, “Hiring for Keeps,” on the Inside Lane blog.


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