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December 2017
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Always hire the best employees possible

Successful equipment dealers discovered long ago that their employees are the dealership’s most important assets. Successful dealers know that results are only achieved through and with their personnel.

There is an old adage that advises successful equipment dealers to “always be looking for good people.” Like the U.S. Marines, dealers should always be looking for great people to fill their ranks.

Successful dealers and managers do just that. How many times in an interview have you found yourself saying: “We like you but we think you are over qualified for the job.” If that comment is sincere and not just a convenient way to end the interview, then why not attempt (right then and there) to interview the individual for an opportunity to fill a void within the dealership. Again, successful dealers realize that while they may not have a position open right now, they could have an opportunity or an opening 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. Personnel 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 in hiring technicians. It is a task that we will continue to face well into the coming years. Bob Currie, a consultant to the equipment industry, predicts in his dealership model that shortly typical equipment dealerships will have 50% of their employees being technicians. Some dealers have already reached that point.

Recently we talked with an exceptionally successful dealer in the east. 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 four employees on staff whose major responsibility is to locate and hire additional technicians for his operations. Another dealer called recently to tell me that in order for him to achieve plans for the coming three years he requires 30 additional trained technicians. Yet another dealer started up his own employment agency for finding technicians.

Hiring technicians is a tough job, hiring qualified technicians is an even tougher job. Successful equipment dealers recognize that it is a task that must be constantly worked to achieve results. It is a task that requires planning and projecting into the future. Successful dealers do not wait until the shop is filled with work to hire technicians; this happens to too many dealers and is a lack of planning and particularly projecting what their labor sales will be one year, three years or even five years in advance. Successful equipment dealers try to maintain their technician staff during any business recession.

I was working with a dealer in the mid-west whose technicians were unionized. He had a few more than fifty technicians and better than half of those fifty faced retirement three years down the road. I asked him whether or not he had plans to replace those 25-30 technicians when retirement came along, because I believed he was faced with a “mass exodus” in three years. More than likely pay increases would not maintain the group. They have a healthy pension and when retirement came along they would be gone. If you have a pension plan of any kind, recognize that when the employees’ retirement time comes up they are gone!

Several years 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. His goal was to “home-grow” his technicians!

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.

Once candidates begin to respond, the next important action is having 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 in 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 terminated 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.

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 is the important action of placing the new employee on the team. 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 them to all dealership personnel and getting them properly started on the new job.

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

We have two manuals on special this month for our readers: One is Technicians, Field & Shop and covers numerous techniques for finding and hiring technicians, the second is Technicians – Articles we have written. Simply email your request for these two publications, stating your name, your dealership and your dealership’s location, as well as your product line, and the documents will be sent via email to you along with an invoice in the amount of $16.99, which you will pay after the material has been received. If, after receiving the materials, you are not satisfied, simply email us telling us of your dissatisfaction and withhold any payment whatsoever; simple enough? Our email address is:

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