The Race for Talent

Having the right team supporting your business is absolutely fundamental to your organization’s success, particularly in the dealership industry. With that in mind, dealerships tend to have a high turnover rate – more so than most other industries. Although this generally encompasses turnover at the salesman and technician levels (whereby turnover is normal), it may also be due to a lack of awareness among dealers regarding recruiting best practices and retention.

Proactive vs. Reactive Recruiting

Rather than utilizing a proactive recruiting approach, dealerships often recruit reactively and all too often hire out of desperation. A reactive recruiting approach is like hitting the panic button, so to speak, which entails actions such as:

  • Running an influx of ads
  • Making hasty counter offers to keep someone
  • Making rushed hiring decisions

Such an approach is not ideal, as top talent is often overlooked and many new hires end up being a poor fit, simply due to the impulsive nature of reactive hiring. Proactive recruiting, on the other hand, allows the dealership to diligently plan for hiring needs, even if positions are not currently open. A proactive recruiting approach encompasses:

  • Creating employee branding
  • Turning employees into recruiters
  • Implementing an active referral program
  • Performing thorough due diligence on prospective hires (i.e. performing reference and background checks)

On the whole, being proactive means constantly looking for talent, but doing so with composure – not as a derivative of panic.

WHY is Turnover High?

Understanding the “why” behind turnover today may also help dealers adapt and evolve their recruiting and retention tactics. Many dealership employees are now millennials (Generation Y), most of whose values starkly differ from those of a dealer’s previous employees. As many dealers are accustomed to the Gen. X and baby boomer mindset, their expectations and terms of employment do not often align with the values of their Gen. Y employees, which, in turn, causes turnover.

For example, surveys report that Gen. Y employees are generally more concerned with how much time they get off as opposed to how much they get paid. And in the dealership industry, working weekends and having little time off has been common. In fact, NADA’s 2014 Dealership Workforce Study shows that 54% of turnover in the industry stems from Gen. Y, detailing lower tolerance for long work days and six-day work weeks as a leading cause.

Act Now, Act Constantly, Act Calmly

Keeping in mind the fundamentals of proactive recruiting as well as the generational shift in the workforce, consider the following best practices in relation to your dealership recruiting and retention efforts:

  1. Create an employee brand. A good starting point would be social media. Share job postings, provide well-written, clear job criteria (that includes a mention of compensation) and provide photos of company culture. Don’t forget to make your employee branding evident on your company website.
  2. If you are not on LinkedIn – get on! This is a massive network hub and effective searching tool to identify possible candidates that also allows you to keep in touch with former colleagues (another source for talent).
  3. Be aware of the people working at your competitors. This kind of familiarity and connection is always beneficial when a seat opens in your dealership.
  4. Keep your cool. Do not be too quick to hire – make sure you’ve done your thorough due diligence on the candidate before making any hasty decisions.
  5. On the other side of the spectrum, do not make the job seeker jump through hoops, possibly giving him/her the wrong impression.
  6. Respond to all inquiries – never ignore a job seeker, even if you are not interested in pursuing him/her.
  7. Understand the differences in mindset and values of the emerging population of millennials in the workspace. Consider leveraging this understanding to craft terms of employment that will more likely accommodate the needs and happiness of your prospective employees (i.e. flexible work arrangements).

While many of these best practices seem overt, the common recruiting methods employed by a large number of dealers today do not maximize the possibility of identifying and retaining top tier employees. Moving forward, consider these and other best practices and action items to make sure you are seeking out and hiring the most fitting and suitable candidates for your dealership.


Tim York
Managing Partner, Performance
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