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We all are faced with the same challenges when it comes to an aging workforce. So what is our plan and where do we start? Our plan should include job-specific recruiting, and we should start by taking a hard look at our workforce. Recruiting is not as simple as going to a college or university, or posting an ad on an internet job board. Recruiting takes thought, and it takes all your department managers to buy in and support the initiative.

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Recruiting can be generic. For example, a company can recruit based on hiring candidates for management or sales training roles. In some cases this will certainly get them headed down the right path, especially if they take the approach of working these candidates through each department over the course of 12 to 18 months. I’ve witnessed this approach work very well, but I’ve also seen it not work well. In the latter case, the candidates often found themselves feeling like they never really fit into any of the departments. Now, I’m not saying that this approach always ends badly; I’m saying that for this broad-based approach to yield real results, your program must be structured so that the new recruit and the company both share in the experience. More on structure later.

Because each dealership has basically the same needs, we can break down our recruiting efforts into a few simple categories. There would be Sales, Service, Parts and Operations. Sales would include someone having a role defined as outside sales, and this would encompass new product, rental or product support sales. Parts would include someone who interfaces with customers at the parts counter or from a phone center, or it could include someone who has an interest in process management or inventory control. Service would include service writers or administrative team members. Service would also include technicians, which is one of the hardest positions to find quality replacements for. Then we have Operations, otherwise known as Management.

As you have probably gathered, there is a natural overlap in all these departments. By overlap, I mean that when you are recruiting for these positions, you can approach the process with a broad-based program or with a more departmental approach. Departmentally, you can recruit based on a specific skill set needed by one or more departments. With the broad-based approach, your program would be, for example, 12 months in length, and there would be a specific structure to the training plan.

In a 12-month training plan, you can have your new recruits working two-and-a-half months in each department or part of your operation. For this to work there must be a structured plan for the new recruit to follow. Additionally, management from within their currently assigned department must engage the recruit and be certain that they follow this plan. Simply placing a candidate into this program or department and not using them or teaching them the inner workings of the department will lead to the candidate’s failure. Senior leadership has to monitor the progress of the recruits, as well as the progress of the department leadership who is managing them. If the recruit fails or loses interest, then you have failed as an organization.

We must keep in mind that not all recruits will make the cut, and this too is part of the process. The washout rate will vary from industry to industry. So how do we maintain an acceptable or low washout rate? First we must come up with a plan, one that has a structured path, and one that forces the recruit to work within each unique aspect of each department. Second, we must choose where we are going to recruit from. As mentioned earlier, we can do this at college or university career fairs, and at vocational or technical colleges. Some programs on the vocational front are starting as early as the junior year of high school. These programs are obviously directed at recruiting future technicians, and for them to be successful there must be a structured plan in place or they will never go anywhere.

In the end, for any business to grow and prosper, it must recruit!

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