Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2003   by Gordon Cameron and Ken Keis, Results Consulting Group Inc.

Marketing for Results: Hire the Right Person the First Time!

Hiring the "wrong" people costs you money!

Human Resource Management research suggests the following.

Individuals who quit within 6 months were hired through an inadequate staff-selection process.

Those who quit in 6 to 9 months had poor staff orientation or training.

Those who quit in 9 to 12 months experienced poor leadership and management.

Research confirms that the blame for staff turnover within the first year can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the owners or managers who hired and led the staff.

The Good News is that you highly influence the retention of new hires. The Bad News? You highly influence the retention of new hires.

Recently, a service manager mentioned he was tired of the constant turnover-especially of new hires. “You just can’t get good help these days.” After some discussion, we found only one constant-the person who was screening, interviewing, and ultimately hiring everyone. It was the service manager himself!

If any business had an average of over 100 percent turnover of new recruits within the first six months, who would you hold responsible? Our response was, “Maybe it’s time to fire the person who’s doing the hiring; he obviously doesn’t know how to hire the right person the first time!”

We know the truth hurts, but the cost of not addressing this critical issue is going to hurt even more. Estimates suggest that the cost of hiring the wrong person ranges from six to 24 months’ salary and benefits. Is it worth it to improve your odds? You bet!

If you cannot retain staff and try to blame the market conditions, or falsely accept that it’s the industry norm to be unable to hire the right person the first time, you will continue to compromise your staff stability and increase your business costs.

Your long-term staff stability is based on your overall leadership capabilities. Your goal should be to create a reputation that attracts and keeps winners-not an environment that makes them want to leave your employ.

Let’s assume that if you have read this far, you are committed to that premise.

Hiring the right person the first time doesn’t happen by accident; it happens by design. Would new hires still quit if you systemized and streamlined your entire hiring process? Certainly, but let’s improve the odds.

In this scenario, we are assuming that if you want to attract the best people, you must have a motivating pay plan. If you think you can hire a winner on a loser’s salary, think again. Long term, you get what you pay for.

The following process is the first part of the Comprehensive Personnel System (CPS) we use with our clients. It will give you an outline you can adapt for your organization.

Conduct Job Analysis

Always be clear about the position you want to fill-long before you even think about interviewing. Never determine the responsibilities and role of the position based on past employees, your experience in past hires, or industry limitations. Define the position based on what your business needs. Identify the standards, skills, and knowledge that the perfect hire would have-if you had your “druthers”. Let go of any predetermined thinking. Identify social skills, training requirements, preferred behavioral style, and the results that you expect. You know the old saying, “You get what you expect.” If you have not already done so, lift your expectations to the highest level.

Specify in writing the new or updated Job Description. Include all areas of responsibility, skills, knowledge, performance criteria, progress evaluation data, and level of authority this position will embody. If other staff members hold a parallel position to the job you want to fill, ask them to document the duties they believe are their responsibility. The difference between their perception and “reality” can be very revealing.

Circulate a draft of the job requirements to key personnel, to hear their feedback. Make sure to get a consensus about this position from the appropriate team members. Hiring the right person cannot take place without agreement from existing staff members.

Circulate the Job Description to interested applicants. To respect your time, accept resumes and applications only from individuals who have reviewed the document and who understand the requirements of the position.

Acquire a Structured Interview Process

Never interview off-the-cuff or spontaneously; you will miss important details and make mistakes in the hiring process. A candidate with superior verbal skills will always win the heart of the interviewer, but that candidate might not be the best person for the job. You know the story: what a person says he can do and what he can actually deliver can be worlds apart. You need to protect yourself from the tendency to be “sold” by “personality.” To bring consistency to your hiring success, you must implement a structured set of interview questions, and rank each candidate according to his responses.

Standardize your application form to ensure you are getting all the necessary information. Rate the applicants on their skills, knowledge, work history, extent of training/education, and of course, attitude. Then create a “short list.”

Testing and assessments are a must for your short-list interview process. Most employers overlook the importance of this stage.

There are several types of pre-employment tests.

* Intelligence Testing measures verbal abilities in communicating, mathematical functionality, spatial ability, and reasoning ability from materials, words, figures, and abstract concepts.

* Skill Testing can measure the levels of the candidate’s skills and be helpful in customizing the training plan to that individual.

* Aptitude Testing, Interest Testing, Attitude Testing, and Personality Style Assessment are tools an employer can implement in the hiring process. Testing is a highly specialized field; make sure the tests you use are tried and true.

Never hire on the spot. If you do that, you probably have not checked references; your decision will be more emotional than pragmatic. Check references after the interview, to confirm consistency between the candidate’s comments and the opinion of his previous employers. Given today’s employment laws, previous employers may be reluctant to be candid with their comments. This question should get a helpful response: “If you could send your past employee to training to improve his ability to perform his responsibilities, what training would you recommend?” The answer will help you get a clear picture of the development issues inherent in your applicant.

In the interview process, make a point of communicating your corporate vision, mission, values, and policies. It’s not good enough to merely mention them to your candidate; he must agree that he wants to work under your business philosophies. Future accountability starts here.

Source Quality Candidates

Ask your current employees for referrals. (If you can’t get quality referrals from your staff, it’s a sign you have a low ESI-Employee Satisfaction Index. Unhappy employees don’t recommend their place of business to new hires.) Do your staff members know someone who would fit into the team? Rarely do employees recommend people with whom they would not want to work. Network with your suppliers to get referrals for the position.

Hiring the right person the first time takes planning, systems, tools, and structure. Customize and document your processes to fit your organization; you will create your own internal marketing plan to attract just the right people.

Be proactive.

Plan rather than panic.

About Results Consulting Group Inc.

Results is an international full-service business consulting company with special expertise and experience in the automotive industry. In the past five years alone, Results’ team of automotive professionals has trained more than 20,000 automotive personnel-and logged thousands of in-store consulting-project days, from independent operations to national and international chains. Senior Partners Ken Keis and Gordon Cameron have over 45 years of combined business-ownership experience and 15,000
hours of automotive consulting experience. The Results Performance Institute provides a full range of information products and services designed to increase your business and individual performance, including personal one-on-one coaching, in-store consulting, on- and off-site educational sessions, tele-conferences, videos, and audio solutions. Results also provides appointment-scheduling and dispatch software solutions-ServiceMate-specifically designed for the independent maintenance and repair sector.
Shops wishing to start growing their service business immediately can now order ServiceMate software. Created for shops from 2 to 32 technicians, it almost pays for itself the first week you use it. Learn more about this easy-to-implement solution: Call 1-866-852-4347.

Results’ copyrighted service marketing and operational system, “0% Customer Defection & 100% Customer Retention,” has a proven track record of increasing service gross by 10-20% and beyond-in less than six months. For further information about Results and its automotive and business solutions, call us Toll Free at 1-866-852-4347, email, or visit our Website at

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