The annual massive SEMA-AAPEX gathering (say 140,000 peeps) in Las Vegas features literally hundreds of educational opportunities in almost any area of the automotive business and technical world. This year I was particularly interested in social media recruiting and social media influence overall, since I was getting sick of hearing about Facebook (also known as “Farcebook” in some circles), Twitter (which used to be a dirty word), YouTube (Don’t try this at home), and the likes. And most of us need good players now!
I guess I had to fess up and accept that, at least for now, social media of all types is here to stay; and more importantly that they are influencing and driving people’s behaviors like never before. Regarding technician recruiting and retention, which almost every service manager / director / VP / guru / maharishi is struggling with; I was hoping to locate some secret sauces to share with my highly frustrated clients and friends.
As luck would have it, I discovered an AAPEX (Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo) educational session featuring Ms. Patty Cox from the University of the Aftermarket (Yes, that’s a real school), who herself just happens to be a learned social media recruiting sage, as well as a competent presenter. I wasn’t disappointed.
She reviewed the “Top Five” recruiting trends, including the fact that the old fashioned paper resume’ formats are Pasadena, replaced by “digital candidate portfolios”. These scripts can be produced a number of ways, including providing tangible informational formats on a recruiter’s website. I liked that possibility, which would provide a way for me or you to retrieve the pertinent information you/me are particularly interested in regarding a candidate. Candidate resumes can be / are lacking, if not glorified.
Recruiters (add that your title Mr. Manager) can also gain additional information by using the links to social platforms, where candidates post information which helps one study the candidate’s position fit or not. I have heard of judicious executives deciding not to hire some individuals due to negative or incriminating posts in social media outlets. Since it is difficult to impossible to gain information from prior employers, doing some homework here is smart plus.
Secondly, Ms. Cox stated that “mobile accessibility is a requirement.” Information speed, including short recruiting job descriptions, gets attention and managers have to expect potential candidates to use their mobile phones for accessing their information “24/7”. A whopping fifty-three percent of 19 to 29-year-olds use smartphones for their job search, explained Ms. Cox, so a mobile-friendly recruiting environment is a must. And recruiting “Apps” allow job applicants to submit email, text, or other types of messaging. Essentially, dispensing and receiving information has to be “fast and easy”, kind of like a soiled dove in a cowboy movie (some of you will get that). Here’s some informative App-reading while you’re on the pot: https://www.workable.com/.
See Me Feel Me
A third essential recruiting tactic is to utilize videos; something revealed for all types of social media situations in the other classes I attended. Ms. Cox sited four distinct areas here: A. Used by candidates to search
(YouTube being the number two search mechanism behind Google); B. Used for recruiting as a branding tool to sell the company; C. Skype or webcam used for interviews; D. Get this: Video “shares” are made twelve times more than text! This is a great vehicle to show what it’s like to work at your organization – using current employees to tell your story – hugs and kisses, and Ms. Cox stated that a professionally developed video isn’t necessary, and is not be as effective as the one the viewer might have produced too. She cited humor as an important attention element too.
A fourth trend, Ms. Cox iterated, is the Increasing use of data for talent analytics, providing information about the best candidates, best skills, and the best sources for acquisition and retention. Data may be obtained from within your own organization by interviewing / collecting information from a cross-section of social and skill strata. For instance, if I’m placing a radio recruiting ad for my own clients (I have had some great success with this source), I determine what age/skills I am looking for, and I interview that group of techs to find out which radio stations they listen to, if any at all. That helps determine where a recruiting radio ad campaign should / will be placed. The same could be done for various forms of social media – probably could do the same with customers too – a room full of waiters can provide a great bowlful of related information. Grow some and do it – you’ll be surprised what you learn.
The fifth area here was an “investment in employer branding as a hiring asset.” Ms. Cox explained that 52% of jobseekers get their all-important first impression of a potential employer from their online presence. This is where videos and other pro-company marketing is significant in a website, Facebook, and other social media presence. As a distinct benefit, new hires who have examined and determined that they fit well from viewing this information are “40% less likely to leave in the first six months of employment.” That’s helpful info amigo.
Ms. Cox noted that competition for the right employees is high for both passive and active candidates, and that some 50% of candidates will come from internal referrals in the future! Ways to nurture retention of current employees, who will become your spokespersons, include more than just employee performance reviews (an area extremely weak in typical dealership management I have to add). Ms. Cox suggested that all employees need a purpose, and that management can learn valuable information from employees just by asking questions such as inquiring about what keeps them working at this company. Open and consistent employee communication meetings are a winning move. I have found that agenda-driven short conferences conducted weekly for instance, are far more productive than then monthly beer-swigging-lets-bitch-about-the-company technician rodeos.
Another trend is working with employees to train and move them up in the organization. Regarding technicians, growing your own crop is the smartest move any leader can make as I see it. That means organizing and documenting a specific training / testing / hands-on learning plan with specific and measured objectives – a far cry from the too common “take some tests when you get time Tonto” strategy. I see a lot of weakness here, with training being driven primarily by factory requirements, rather than a structure dictated by management.
Ms. Cox identified that a surprising 50% of former employees consider returning to their former employer. Every boss reading this has experienced the techs or other staffer who finally figured out that the “grass ain’t greener down the street” and they want to come home. The vital lesson here is to stay in touch with the former employees you didn’t want to lose – don’t write them off as gone forever. Think of them as alumni Ms. Cox noted, and she even mentioned one company hosting regular so-called alumni picnics – an interesting approach to staying in touch!
Another angle regarding employee retention, Ms. Cox identified that while 67% of employers feel that their workers have a proper work-life balance, 45% of employees disagree. This is particularly notable when the importance of the candidate referral factor is considered. I personally have found that is crucial to have a down-and-dirty work-life conversation with prospective employees before they are hired, to minimize future bombshells for both parties.
Service and parts department excellence is difficult to deliver consistently, especially when these operations are being pressured to remain open far more hours than in past times. I have had to advise some of my clients to close the unprofitable servicing hours (after a thorough study is completed) due to employee burnout, inadequate service delivery, poor CSI responses, and pending and past employee turnover, as well as the inability to attract competent professionals. I have confirmed that focusing on developing a firm and productive customer/ASM servicing relationship is more important than anything else, followed by proper scheduling, and work quality. Much of the rest is copy-cat window dressing too often sucking the available energy out of these vital basics.
Millennials Are Us
Like it or not, millennials make up the largest workforce, so figuring out what works with these current and potential subordinates is not an option. Ms. Cox noted that while this group needs to be motivated (enticed?) differently, keeping in mind that they grew up with “customized experiences.” It’s best to approach their work as more of a short-term “tour of duty” (loved that description) with specific goals and unique rewards (alotta recognition) aimed at their individual needs – which you better figure out early. For instance, she stated that “time is currency” for most, which can be managed to meet both their goals and company needs utilizing a plan. It won’t happen automatically, or again it might, tossing an ill-timed fire cracker into a preplanned work schedule – you know what I mean if you have been managing more than three weeks.
While none of this is social media extravaganza is simplistic, it isn’t rocket science either, and with the hiring challenges I am seeing universally in dealer circumstances, it appears to be an improved option. Ms. Cox told me she is available to answer questions by contacting her at CoxP@northwood.edu. She knows her subject matter well so I wouldn’t hesitate if you want to know more.
Social Media Options
As you likely know, there are numerous options for reaching out with social media outlets. I ran across a handy list of them and more importantly who and what participates in each (i.e. age – gender – etc.) so one can study the fit of each to recruiting efforts. If’n you’d like a copy send a note to Ed@NetProfitGroup.com and put on the subject line “Social Media stuff-I wanna know” and one will magically show up in your email forthwith. You will find out where you fit, or like me, you may find you don’t fit at all.
Author: Ed Kovalchick
Ed Kovalchick is the CEO and founder of Net Profit Inc., Alabaster, AL, an international fixed operation consulting and training firm located in Alabaster AL. Mr. Kovalchick and his firm have assisted hundreds of dealers and manufacturers, and conducted workshops throughout the world for thousands of students since 1979. He has written columns for Dealer Magazine since its inception.