Is Your Dealership Making the Right First Impression on New Employees?

POSTED ON February 27, 2020

Given the turnover that we continue to experience in the automotive industry, many dealers find themselves wondering how they can address this widespread issue in their own business. While a variety of aspects are frequently discussed, not many consider how their onboarding process might improve new employee buy-in, satisfaction, and ultimately turnover. It’s not a big secret that many dealerships have an onboarding problem—one that is actively driving away talent. To address this issue, I want you to ask yourself:

  • What are you doing in your dealership to make the hiring of new employees an event?
  • What are you doing to make an incredible first impression?
  • Are you wowing employees on day one, week one, and in the first 30 days?
  • Does your dealership provide employees (and especially millennials) compelling reasons to choose your company as a long-term proposition?

If you are one of many dealers struggling with consistent turnover, it’s time to make a change.

Make Onboarding an Experience

As someone who has the opportunity to speak with many different dealers, the topic of onboarding frequently comes up. That’s why it’s refreshing to heard some of the success stories happening across the country of dealerships ready to make changes. I recently met the President/CEO of a fifth-generation dealer group who provided a recap of what they do to make an amazing first impression on new employees at their dealerships. After a thorough interview and hiring process, he explained his company’s defined employee launch process.

Step 1:

The Senior Management Team, along with the Department Manager, needs to identify the start date for the employee. That way, the entire management team is aware of each of their roles in the launch process.

Step 2:

Prior to the first day, the new employee gets a package sent to their home. Included in the package is human resources documents, dealership information, and some wearables with the company logo proudly identified.

Step 3:

To set a positive first impression, the Department Manager treats the new employee to breakfast at a local restaurant on their first day. They review what day one will look like, who the employee will be meeting, and the manager is available to answer any questions the employee may have. This tends to be a very welcoming atmosphere for most people, and it helps the employee feel prepared when they arrive at the dealership.  

Step 4:

After breakfast, the new employee and the Manager head to the dealership to meet with the President/CEO or the Vice President of Operations. The next two hours are devoted to learning about the history, culture, and expectations of the auto group from the most senior executives. They take culture and employee buy-in so seriously that they feel it’s crucial to dedicate two hours with each and every employee – no matter what the new hire’s role will be.  

Step 5:

After this meeting, the employee, the Departmental Manager, and the General Manager take a tour of the dealership to introduce the new hire to employees throughout the store. The tour concludes with lunch with the GM.

Step 6:

Following lunch with the GM, the employee spends the afternoon with the Human Resources team to ensure that all documents and benefit forms have been filled out and explained. They also review the employee handbook and any other related employee rules, regulations, or requirements.

Step 7:

If all of this onboarding wasn’t enough, this next step is where the dealer-group really goes above and beyond for their new employees—at the conclusion of the first day, they send the employee home with pre-prepared pizzas so that the new employee’s family doesn’t have to worry about cooking a meal that day. The family gets a special treat and allows the new employee to share with his or her family how their new company makes a great first impression, and shows they truly care.

Do More for New Hires & Reap the Rewards

A recent study by Inc. magazine identified that 70% of employees are on websites looking for their next opportunity. While an onboarding plan might not reduce that threat, it does give your newer employees reason to question if better really is out there. We all know the cost of training and the impact that employee turnover can have on your organization. So perhaps it is time for your organization to look at how it treats new employees and review your current onboarding plan to determine if a better plan might be in order. Remember, if you want to be an employer of choice for top talent, make sure every new hire’s organizational duties, technical abilities, and social needs are well met. When new hires feel accepted and welcomed, they are less likely to feel like there is greener grass.