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Hire the best employees

Successful equipment dealers discovered long ago that the employees in a dealership are the dealer’s most important assets! The successful dealer knows that results are achieved through and with his personnel. There is an old adage that advises the successful equipment dealer to “always be looking for good people.”

Successful dealers and managers do just that. They realize that while they may not have a personnel problem right now, they could have a problem tomorrow, next week or next month. Successful dealers and managers know that whether there are two, twenty or one hundred employees in the dealership, sooner or later there will be a need to hire someone new, upgrade an employee or reassign an employee. Change is an equipment dealership’s one constant. Therefore, continually looking for individuals that one day might work for the dealership is just good business.

No one needs to tell today’s equipment dealers the difficulty of hiring technicians. It is a task that dealers will continue to face well into the close of this century unless someone comes up with a damn good solution. Recently we talked with an exceptionally successful lift truck dealer in the southeast. This dealer currently employs in excess of 150 trained technicians covering a three state area. He is constantly looking for additional technicians, and cannot find enough. He has two employees on staff whose major responsibility is to locate and hire additional technicians for his operations.

Several months ago we were conducting seminars at a large construction equipment distributorship located in central Michigan. The corporate service manager was delayed. He was delayed because he had spent the morning counseling a group of eighth graders about the benefits open to them in becoming equipment technicians. This gentleman was going beyond what most would believe to be the limits of searching for technicians. This gentleman was enthusiastic, dedicated and committed to finding the best personnel available, over a period of time, to staff his service departments. The good news is that he has been very successful over the years.

The practice of always looking for talented personnel eases the burden of replacing personnel within the dealership. It provides a starting point in the search for qualified candidates.

Your dealership should prepare in advance for hiring new personnel. Doing this will assist management in establishing an action attitude which will avoid the panic button approach to hiring. It will put the hiring task in reasonable perspective with its true importance to the dealership.

Planning in advance will result in job evaluations and personnel needs. This in turn will strengthen the probability of doing a superior job of hiring. It will further establish a better base for stronger controls over the entire hiring process.

This entire pre-planning process encourages management to think about specific job requirements and about the type of personnel required. Once such pre-planning is done, management has specific reference points for evaluating a candidate on an objective basis.

In pre-planning, management should develop checklists. These lists would include requirements for a specific job and would be an in-depth job description for the manager to use in hiring. This list would contain the technical and personal requirements of the position. It would assist the hiring manager in recognizing the specific qualities necessary to hire the right candidate. A well thought up list helps identify more clearly what to look for in considering candidates for the position.

Seek out and develop a list of prospective candidates for the position. This next step concerns your desire to reach the right candidate for the job. What is done here will determine to a high degree the number and the kind of individuals that present themselves as candidates for the position. The objective is, of course, to generate as many likely candidates as possible so that management can have a choice in filling the position.

Source of candidates is no longer just a local matter. Many successful equipment dealers are recruiting out of state for personnel. No longer is it a local matter or a case of promoting within the dealership. The important thing is to try several methods rather than just one or two methods of locating candidates. Methods such as: word of mouth, asking present employees for suggestions, advertising both locally and out of state, using both local and national associations, etc. Think about hiring a firm to provide you with candidates; yes a “head-hunter”, yes it will cost you a fee, but if you do some of the things mentioned above, a good firm can find you the right candidate, and generally cost less than doing it yourself!

Once candidates begin to respond, the next important action is to have them complete an application form or forward a job resume. The use of an application form is just good business and it assists management in determining the applicants ability to read and follow instructions and to write. The application is a time saver for management. It is a written review of the candidates work experience. The application identifies skills and weaknesses of the candidate. It becomes a positive guide for the personal interview and it provides reference information for the follow-up.

We, of course, caution anyone developing a job application to be aware of the numerous laws and regulations concerning what can and cannot appear on the application form.

Once applicants have completed this application form, management is in a position to review the information provided and screen the candidates against the pre-planned job requirements.

The interview grows out of the information on either the application form or the resume. Questions are developed by intense research into the material presented on either of these two forms. Once the interview is finished and the candidate has been dismissed, it is suggested that summary notes be made on the interview as a further aid in making the final selection. We strongly recommend that the manager make these summary notes during or immediately following the initial interview.

When the interviews are completed, the references checked and the interview information reviewed, management is ready to select the candidate considered best qualified in relation to the technical and personal qualifications established in the pre-plan for the position. Many will say that references are a waste of time, because certain questions cannot be asked. Word your questions correctly and you would be surprised how much pertinent information will surface.

Management’s decision should be communicated to the selected candidate promptly and arrangements finalized for the individual to report for work. Likewise, candidates not selected should be advised that a decision has been reached.

Following the final selection, the important action of placing the new employee on the team is ready to happen. This action involves common courtesy. It will cover matters such as assuring full understanding of all fringe benefits, of the pay plan, working hours, vacation, training and other company policy matters important to the hired individual. Lastly, it involves putting the individual on the team by introducing him/her to all dealership personnel and getting him/her properly started on the new job.

Just recently we finished a manual entitled: TECHNICIANS. We put this book together because almost daily we hear from dealers who tell us how hard it is to find qualified technicians. Many of these dealers tell us that we just don’t know how hard it is to find qualified technicians, but I assure you we do! If you want quality technicians, you have to work at it, you need a written plan of action and our manual describes all the situations you might run into when seeking “qualified” technicians. This manual is a collection of twelve of our articles on technicians. It is a special this month for $19.99. Many of you who order our manuals know the rules. Ask for the special on Technicians, give us your dealership’s name, address and line of product, and we will email you the manual and an invoice for $19.99. If you are not totally satisfied with the material, send us an email telling us so and we will waive payment of the invoice.

Better hiring practices builds stronger dealership teamwork and this all starts with the hiring process . . . make this process the best you can!

 John R. Walker is president of Aftermarket Services Consulting Co. Inc. E-mail editorial@mhwmag.com to contact John.

 
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