With employee retention and hiring a key dealer concern, dealers should move quickly on valuable candidates, while maintaining a positive corporate culture to hold on to indispensable current staff.
(Editor’s note: This digital version of “Candidate’s Market” offers more detail and insights into compensation and the current hiring and retention situation in the dealer channel than the shorter version that appears in our December/January print issue.)
While emerging technologies and trends keep this industry pressing forward, so too do the people. As The Cannata Report’s 32nd Annual Dealer survey indicates, most dealers are closely watching their teams, positioning themselves not only to retain talent, but also to attract new employees that will propel their dealerships, better serve their customers, and keep them ahead of their competitors.
For over 30 years, Copier Careers has been staffing candidates in the business technology workforce from the front of the house to the back. Working with close to 400 dealerships worldwide, Copier Careers’ President Paul Schwartz confirms there is a never-ending need for qualified people in the industry.
“For about 10 years, we’ve been saying there’s essentially zero unemployment in the industry,” said Schwartz. “Even during the recession, if you were a hunting sales rep, had a skill set, or were technician with OEM and networking skill sets, someone would hire you. Fast forward to today and there still is really no unemployment, and the situation has been exacerbated. There just aren't enough individuals to fill all the roles.”
As MPS and solutions sales have become more prevalent, many dealerships have experienced a generational shift as well, as they have looked to shore up and add to their staff to provide these services. However, there remains a growing gap between available positions and qualified candidates, making the employment landscape a job-seeker’s market.
According to the four salary surveys Copier Careers conducts yearly—for service technician, services and operations manager, sales representative, and sales manager categories—compensation for each of these groups was stable in 2017, if not rising slightly. However, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents in the four categories replied they were either open to or actively seeking a new job.
Adding to the complexity of hiring and employee retention, sentiment has changed in the workplace. During the economic downturn, most employees were grateful to have a job and less concerned about workplace culture and even salary, but as the economy has improved, Schwartz says employee priorities are shifting to pre-recession persuasions.
“People want to enjoy where they’re working, feel they’re contributing to where they’re working and they’re professionally growing, and make money,” said Schwartz. “Now, they’re willing to take a risk and try someplace else.”
This situation leaves dealerships in a precarious position. To remain competitive, Schwartz is encouraging dealerships to be nimble and prepared to jump when hiring opportunities present themselves.
“The biggest thing that dealers need to do is that when they find a candidate, they need to act extremely quickly and responsibly,” said Schwartz. “They also need to be open to proactively respond to candidates that might become available through recruitment or through their own efforts.”
By this, Schwartz means dealers need to entertain valuable candidates they may not have planned to hire but are now available.
“These individuals with these particular skill sets are a finite entity,” said Schwartz. “Dealers should be ready to act [to hire] with a great sense of urgency and be ready whether they’re actively looking or not. When an opportunity arises, they may need to think outside the box, and it may not jive with their long-term plans. It may accelerate it.”
Timing, opportunity, and competitive salaries are key factors in bringing on new talent, but so is corporate culture. According Jessica Crowley, business development manager and senior recruiter at Copier Careers, this is especially important on the technician side.
“Because there have been so many mergers and changes [in the industry], that gets someone to be open to a new opportunity because they feel a number of different changes coming on and it’s not in line with how things used to be, what they’re looking for, and what their core goals and values are in the position they’re in,” said Crowley.
While competitive salaries are vital to retaining valuable employees, according to Copier Careers’ polls that gage employee sentiment, soft benefits such as learning new skill sets, being happy in the company culture, and how they interact with management and co-workers are rising in priority of importance.
“If you did a poll like that, you’d almost intuitively think that 99% of people would say ‘money,’ but it’s not,” said Schwartz. “When I talk to people, so very often they say they don’t feel appreciated. And that’s a matter of setting the right culture and leadership.”
In short, dealers can’t risk being complacent about any aspect of their business.
“Dealers need to be talking to their employees, co-workers, and staff and not assuming that anyone is comfortable or happy,” said Schwartz. “They need to be sure their employees are getting what they need to do their job done in an appropriate and comfortable environment.”
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