Human Resources Operations

6 Recruiting Pitfalls Your Shop Must Avoid

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As an independent human resources consultant for the past 16 years, Dan Taylor has seen it all. In an industry where there is around 30-35 percent turnover every year, he finds shop owners and managers making the same mistakes when it comes to recruiting and finding employees.

Taylor has worked with Greg Bunch, owner of Colorado-based Aspen Auto Clinic, off and on with project work for the last 13 years, and joined Bunch’s 20 Group, Transformers Institute, as a senior business advisor in late 2017.

The recruiting approach for shop owners is a lot like fishing, he says. You need to have the right bait, make it attractive to your candidates, and place your lures in the right spots.

Paul Campanella, owner of Paul Campanella’s Auto & Tire Center, has grown his staff to over 30 employees at his two Wilmington, Del., shops, and has seen steady 8-14 percent growth over the past 15 years. He and his son, Anthony, the shop’s location manager, have worked through their fair share of obstacles, and learned to avoid some major recruiting blunders.

Taylor and the Campanellas list their top six recruiting blunders, and how shop owners can avoid them.


Blunder No. 1: Not recruiting because you’re fully staffed

According to Taylor, you should always have “two in the drawer,” which means you should proactively recruit at all times for all positions.

“You need to either cross train and have backups, or you expose the overall health of your company with things that are outside of your control,” Taylor says.

Campanella’s has Facebook and Indeed ads always running so they can find potential candidates. Beyond that, however, he and his shop managers say they have a strong focus on networking.

“We’re constantly networking with other technicians, and other advisors,” Anthony says. “Because when they do have that bad day, we want to be the ones they think about.”


Blunder No. 2: Hiring out of desperation

Avoiding blunder No. 1 is a great way to avoid having to hire out of desperation if an employee leaves unexpectedly.

However, if you build your operation to a point to where people don’t want to leave, that lessens the chance that you’ll be faced with an immediate unexpected departure.

Keeping employees motivated is another key, to make sure people don’t leave. Building that company culture is a huge focus for Campanella, as he says he tries to cultivate a great environment with his employees.

This means involving technicians in the decision-making process when it comes to buying and updating equipment, and letting them know they’re appreciated.

Beyond this, however, the Campanellas rely on help from their employees when needed. From networking and their experience in the industry, service writers in the front of the shop often know who the best area techs are and where they are, and will keep them in their back pocket if the shop needs a great technician.


Blunder No. 3: Not having a clear definition of your business for candidates

As a business owner or operator, Taylor says you should have a clear idea of what defines your business. Otherwise, why would anyone want to come work for you?

Anthony has found that a lot of people don’t move for compensation anymore; instead, they look for structure, stability and room to grow.

Paul says that having goals for the employees right from the get-go, including overall shop goals and individual goals for the employee, is vital so the employees know what they’re working toward.

He’s even able to show employees the company’s growth and financial statements, just to give concrete examples on where the shop has been, and where it’s going.


Blunder No. 4: Not appropriately screening candidates

Often, when shop owners try to hire new employees, Taylor says they try to cram a square peg in a round hole. Avoiding bringing an employee who is clearly the wrong fit can be avoided by having a well-thought out screening process.

Having an idea of what they feel comfortable with, where their paradigm already is, what makes them enjoy their job atmosphere is super duper important…

Whenever Campanella looks to hire a new employee, he will typically have a phone conversation with him or her. Depending on how he or she conduct him or herself on the phone and what his or her attitude is, he or she will be brought in for another interview.

“You can tell by their demeanor if they’re going to be a culture vampire, and kill the organization,” Paul says. “The best people at what they do aren’t necessarily going to mix well with your culture.”


Blunder No. 5: Fishing in the wrong pond

In a way, recruiting is like fishing, Taylor says. If you’re looking in the wrong pond, you’ll get the wrong results. And the recruiting landscape is shifting rapidly, so you better pay attention.

For instance, six years ago, Taylor says 90 percent of all technician ads were answered through Craigslist. In the past five years, however, the hiring landscape has shifted to Indeed, and 90 percent of employees apply through that medium.

The Campanellas have seen this first hand at their shop. Anthony recently posted a want ad on Indeed, which got 180 responses. From that, they were able to pick out 20 strong candidates with whom they wanted to talk.

On the other end, Anthony posted the exact same ad on Craigslist, ran it for the same amount of time, and had eight responses, all with lackluster candidates.

There are other questions you need to answer, Taylor says, like do you want to use a recruiter or not use one? If so, do they have access to the right batch of guys?

Another thing to keep in mind is that a majority of ads are viewed on a cell phone, according to Taylor. So, he says, you need to make sure the bait is attractive to the fish, and the fish doesn’t have to spend a ton of time looking at it.

“If it’s a three-page thing, nobody is scrolling through that stuff,” Taylor says. “They already know what the job is, don’t put all that HR mumbo jumbo in there.”


Blunder No. 6: Telling instead of selling

Often, a strong candidate will ask the all-important question, “Why should I want to work with you?” You need to be able to answer this question both in the interview, and in your want ad.

In many of these posts, Taylor says companies will just post their long job description with roles, duties and aptitudes, without explaining why this is an attractive job to a candidate. It’s vital to include what makes your shop special in a concise, specific way.

In interviews, Paul says they talk about all the benefits the shop offers, like health care, dental, life insurance and matching 401(k), but he also makes an effort to let candidates see the shop environment for themselves.

Beyond this, Paul and Anthony make sure the candidates meet the staff, and are able to see a clean shop with state-of-the-art equipment.

“They don’t need to boast about their progression in the industry—that’s in their resume,” Anthony says. “They need you to boast about your progression, how your shop has come to be and what you’ve done in terms of updates.”

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