Two dealers describe the steps they took to improve hiring and retention.
One dealer concern that consistently ranks in the top three in The Cannata Report’s annual survey is hiring and retention. Much of that concern is focused on sales, a position that is prone to high-turnover no matter what the industry.
Jim Dotter, president of Virginia Business Systems (VBS) in Richmond, VA and Ryan Jones, executive vice president with Advanced Business Systems, Inc. (ABS) in Watertown, NY totally understand that concern. That’s why both dealers have engaged GreatAmerica Financial Service Corporation’s PathShare HR Services.
PathShare HR Services is a division of GreatAmerica and offers clients like Dotter and Jones customized human resources-related services, including hiring, sales training, strategies for cultivating company culture, strategic planning, and leadership development and succession planning. Dotter was one of the first dealers to engage with PathShare 10 years ago in the hopes of improving his success rate with new hires. Jones signed on about three years ago after attending a PathShare seminar on hiring, training, and retaining sales reps at a Kyocera dealer meeting.
“What they had to say was relevant and easy for us to implement, and the cost structure was extremely attractive,” said Dotter. “What it allows us to do as a small business is to have big company resources on demand without having to make the investment.”
PathShare helped VBS minimize hiring mistakes and provided the dealership with the tools and training to ensure they have more insight about new hires to help them be successful.
Pathshare administers the assessment tests while VBS, after being trained by PathShare personnel, conducts the interviews. Pathshare has also helped VBS market themselves better to ensure they’re attracting the right candidates. One way was by helping Dotter tweak his Linkedin profile to better sell prospects on VBS by showing how involved the dealership is with the community, how they develop employees, and the awards VBS has won as one of the best places to work in the state as opposed to focusing products and services.
Since partnering with PathShare, VBS has created Fast Forward University, an onboarding program for new employees. A key element of the program allows each new hire to sit down with the key people they’ll be interacting with throughout the VBS organization.
“They have the opportunity to get to know them before they need them,” explained Dotter. “It’s good to have a nice welcoming conversation with the service director before one of your accounts has an issue rather than under duress.”
Before a candidate makes it to the interview stage, PathShare administers a behavioral assessment test to determine how compatible a candidate is with the position and the company based on benchmarks for success in the job.
“We’re all inclined to operate in certain ways,” explained Sally Brause, director human resources consulting, GreatAmerica Financial Services Corporation. “By the time I get you in the workplace, the way you operate, your [work] style, and your behavior is going to be pretty consistent.”
The assessment process determines how various behaviors interact with one another and creates a profile of that individual. The assessment helps identify the candidate’s decision-making style, their stamina level, how flexible they are, behavior extremes, or if they’re more of a chameleon and possess the ability to adjust to various work scenarios. It also identifies if a candidate has an established value set in which they operate their life, meaning will they be predictable in how they go about things and will they think through a situation before speaking.
“Just because it says they’re compatible doesn’t mean we’re going to hire them and just because it doesn’t, doesn’t mean we’re not going to talk to them some more,” said Jones. “It’s a good way to determine if it is worth going onto the next step with that person.”
Prior to using PathShare, Jones was skeptical about assessment tests. But after running a few candidates through it, he discovered it does an excellent job of profiling the candidate and determining if they are a good fit for the position.
Every candidate applying for sales, IT services, or service positions at ABS starts the process with the assessment. After that a decision is made whether to schedule an in-person interview. The results are also helpful for determining what types of questions to ask the candidate during the interview.
Jones prefers that the HR specialists at PathShare conduct the initial telephone interviews because, “We’re not HR people and they’re better at asking those questions.”
PathShare then provides ABS with a summary of the interview and what to expect should a candidate progress to an in-person interview at ABS.
To date 15 candidates have been through the PathShare process at ABS and the dealership has hired seven. Not all have worked out. It’s not an exact science and Jones understands that even though the process can identify candidates who possess the capabilities to do the job well, there’s no way to pinpoint potential personal issues that might interfere with the job.
“There’s no silver bullet,” added Brause. “We’re dealing with people and they’re complex. The way we try to position what we’re trying to do is increase the likelihood that you’re hiring successful people.”
If a hire doesn’t work out, PathShare wants to know about it so they can go back to the process and determine if there was something they missed.
Most candidates that ABS has hired have been younger, inexperienced reps. Even with younger candidates, the process is beneficial.
“It gives you a little bit of direction as to whether their personality is going to be a good fit for sales or not,” said Jones. “Honestly, we consider more people without a lot of sales experience than we do with a lot of sales experience because we find all too often it’s hard to train bad habits out of people.”
One lesson that Jones has learned since partnering with PathShare is to trust the process.
“We’ve gone against what they said and hired somebody who might not have been fully compatible and then realized we should have paid attention to the warning signs.”
The cost of turning this task over to a third party has been worth it.
“For us to hire, train, and then lose a sales rep within the first-year costs us anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 when you factor in what you’re paying them and the time and resources you put into training,” stated Jones. “To spend a couple hundred bucks to get some help in that hiring process is worth every penny.”
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