By Bob Cooper
President, Elite Worldwide, Inc.
The most profitable shops in America employ technicians and advisors who are superstars. So, it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions we hear from our clients is, “How do you find and hire the stars?”
Well, the good news is, there are six secrets that I’ve used to grow some of the most successful shops in America. We’ve shared these very same secrets with all of our clients, and we’ve watched them take their shops right to the top as well, so I know that they’ll work for you.
1. People go to work for people, not for shops, so you always need to be recruiting.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that the worst time to look for a superstar is when you need one, because rather than hiring the best of the best, you’ll be limited to hiring the best of whoever happens to be available at that time. Add to that, when you are pressured to hire someone, the decisions you make during your interview process will often be the wrong decisions.
You also need to consider this: With rare exception, the stars are already working, and they are typically working at other successful shops. These are the people who don’t need to look on Craigslist for a job, because they know that if they decide to leave the shop they’re at, there are a dozen other shops that would love to have them. The only way your shop will ever make it onto their short list of potential employers will be if they know you, or someone in your company.
So you need to “meet” the stars, and start building business relationships with them. When you meet techs and service advisors at training courses, conferences, etc., strike up a conversation with them to initiate that relationship. Then, when the time comes to hire a star, you can reach out to your new-found friends, and they’ll spread the word for you.
You’ll also need to have two pages on your website that are dedicated to “career opportunities,” so potential employees can learn more about you and your business from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Again, people go to work for people, not for shops, so you always need to be building relationships and recruiting.
2. Skill is important, but not as important as attitude, aptitude and ethics.
Most owners are so concerned about the level of experience that service advisors and techs have, that they completely overlook the three most important attributes of every potential employee: Their attitude, aptitude and ethics. No matter how many hours a tech can produce, or how good an advisor is at selling jobs, if they don’t have the right attitude, they can ruin the morale of your other employees.
Likewise, if they don’t have the aptitude to learn what they need to learn, then no matter how much training you provide them with, they will never become the superstars you are looking for.
And, lastly, if they don’t have the right ethics, then they’ll never be a good fit, under any conditions. The absolute best service advisors and techs that I’ve ever employed have had no automotive experience at all when they first came to work with us, but they did have positive attitudes, the aptitude to go to the top, and were ethical to the point where they never put money ahead of people. We then turned these people into world-class service advisors and techs.
3. Take the stars to dinner.
Rather than interviewing the candidates in your office as your competitors do, take them to dinner. Here’s why: At a restaurant you are on neutral ground, so they will be far more relaxed and open with you. This relaxed environment will allow you to engage them in a casual conversation about their background, and you’ll find that they’ll typically start talking about their family, weekend activities, hobbies, etc. The good news is, this is where you’ll learn about their roots in the community, their values and a whole lot more. When I’m at dinner with a candidate, I already know they can produce, so I’m most interested in learning more about the “person” behind the reputation.
Over the years, I’ve been to dinner with dozens of advisors and techs who were known for being productive, but by the time our dinner was over, more often than not I came to the conclusion that they would be a bad fit for our shop. They were either prima donnas, or they would spend most of the evening complaining about the shop they were working at. You also need to pay very close attention to how they treat the server, because if they don’t say please and thank you to the server, odds are, they won’t say it to your customers or employees either.
4. Take the candidates for a test drive.
If they pass your “dinner meeting test,” schedule a formal interview at your shop where you take them for a “test drive.” By “test drive” I mean that you need to see how well they can perform before you make them a job offer. As an example, if it’s an advisor, hand them a repair order and ask them to sell you the repair or service. If they’re unable to impress you, then you more than likely have the wrong candidate sitting at your desk. I’ve interviewed dozens of advisors who have aced every part of the interview, and then miserably failed in the role play.
5. Ask for the right references.
When you ask for references, always ask that they provide you with contact info for two techs they have worked with. Not only can the techs be great sources of information for you, but this will allow you to connect with two more people in the industry. Remember, people go to work for people, not for shops, so you need to start building relationships with potential employees as early and as often as you can. You’ll also need to call the personal references, because they’ll provide you with insights on the character of the applicant.
6. Be well prepared and make the right offer.
During the entire process, the stars will be interviewing you. They will pay close attention to what you tell them regarding the goals of your company, they’ll pay close attention to the questions you ask, and they’ll be drawing a conclusion as to whether you’re in the business just to make a lot of money, or, more importantly, to help people.
You also need to bear in mind that the real superstars aren’t looking for jobs. What they’re looking for is an opportunity, so you need to offer competitive wages, opportunities for them to earn a higher income, security, rewards for exemplary performance, rewards for tenure, and, most importantly, leadership.
So, what do you do next? Add those two pages on your website that are dedicated to career opportunities; start meeting as many techs and advisors as you can; pay close attention to their attitude, aptitude and ethics; have a well-constructed compensation program in place; and remember, When you are interviewing the stars, the stars will be interviewing you.
For the last 20 years, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite Worldwide, Inc. (www.EliteWorldwideStore.com), offering shop owners sales, marketing and employee management audio training courses available for instant download. The company also offers coaching and service advisor training services. You can contact Bob at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548.