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The onboarding experience—it can be the difference between a new employee hitting the ground running or taking months to figure out what works. 

At my shop, we recently went through an entire front counter turnover. After a phenomenal run of 6+ years of having the same two rockstars greeting our beloved customers as they entered our doors, both individuals decided to accept new challenges—one leaving to open his own restaurant and the other relocating to another part of the country to be closer to family. During the years we had them, we were on cruise control. Everyone knew what to do, what to accomplish, how to handle our customers, get things done properly. It had been so long since we hired a new staff member for our front-of-the-house that we really did not have any written onboarding procedures to assist any new employees getting up to speed. 

You never know when you will be forced to dive into the job market and look for new staff so I would encourage everyone to have a proper onboarding plan made up. There was a time, where it was common to throw a new employee into the deep end of the pool and hope that they had enough skill and experience to swim at the pace your business flowed. In today’s employee-centric job market, there is no employment period more important than an employee’s first 90 days on the job. 

Effective onboarding is really about thinking about the transition from your new employee’s point-of-view and mapping out what you expect that person to achieve over the next several weeks. As I recently went through this exercise in creating a proper “Service Writer Onboarding Plan,” here are some of my key points I found were critical

Warm-Up (one week before the new employee’s first day) 

This stage is titled as our “Warm-up." Starting a new job can be a lot to take in at first. We can make the first few days really smooth by getting a few important tasks completed prior to the new employee starting, such as: 

  • Collect all signed employment forms such as Employment Agreement, Non-Disclosure Agreement, Employee Handbook, IRS form W-4 and I-9, etc. 
  • Set up all online accounts such as company email, contact information, instant messaging 
  • Prepare workstation and make sure computer, telephone, mouse, keyboard, headset are all set up and working properly 
  • Make a welcome lunch plan for your new employee’s first day 

Game-Time (Employee’s first day and week):

The time has come for the new employee to start their first day. Hopefully you did a good job in the “Warm-up” so you and your new employee are ready to begin. Here are some of the goals we look at achieve during the new employee’s first day and week: 

  • Introduce the new team member to entire team
  • Set clear goals and performance objectives for the first 30/60/90 days and year. Make sure the new employee knows exactly what you are looking to achieve by the end of each time period
  • Create a 3 month roadmap on how those 30/60/90 day goals can be best achieved

Setting up for the WIN:

Now everything has been established and your new employee should be ready to take off running. At the end of each 30/60/90 day time period, conduct a regular check-in with the new employee to see how they feel they are progressing and offer any further support if found needed. 

A proper onboarding plan requires time and investment but if implemented effectively, it will payout tremendous dividends.It will help maintain and enrich your shop’s culture while reducing turnover and turnover costs. Potentially, with a strong onboarding process, you can even expand your talent search into non-automotive industries such as hospitality and have confidence that you can grow and cultivate your next automotive customer service rockstar.


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