Adam Robinson is the co-founder and CEO of Hireology, where he's on a mission to help business owners make better hiring decisions using predictive data and innovative technology. He is a noted recruiting industry expert, speaker, and author with 20 years of experience in the field of hiring and selection management.
Prior to starting Hireology, Robinson ran a company that provided recruitment services on an outsourced basis. That, he says, is where he discovered that many of his clients had no process in place to handle the recruiting output. Since then, he’s become a passionate advocate for helping dealerships and automotive companies become better recruiters and implement standardized processes that better predict positive hiring outcomes.
Robinson recently sat down with Fixed Ops Business to discuss the biggest opportunities fixed ops has when it comes to hiring.
What do you think are the biggest mistakes you see dealerships make while hiring?
I think it’s because, by default, most companies don’t focus on this part of their business as a core critical function. They leave it up to the managers in the departments to figure it out. What dealerships are understanding is their talent operations are as critical as sales, service, F&I, how they manage their real estate, etc. Payroll is 50–60 percent of the total cost for dealerships and it’s not managed. It’s not managed because there’s always something more important. It’s the deal on the desk, the next urgent thing. It’s always been managed by default. In reality, though, it can be managed by design and intention.
Are there differences in the issues between the industries you work with or are they fairly universal?
The biggest commonality is that companies don’t know how to market their jobs. They haven’t kept up with the pace of change in how recruitment advertising can impact their recruiting success. Most dealerships don’t have a recruiting problem, they have a marketing problem. They’re marketing jobs ineffectively and inefficiently. They’re spending in the wrong places, they’re not responding to the job applicants the way they should when they come in the door.
You would never, as a dealer, spend $2,000 in a month on a single source for consumer leads and then not call the leads when they come in the door. That’s crazy. But they do that all the time with recruiting. They don’t manage the effectiveness of that job board and don’t call the job applicant when they apply. In fact, the average wait time for responding in the industry is eight days. How many cars would you service if you waited eight days to call a lead back? Zero. But they expect candidates to be available eight days after they apply. We have to be better at marketing and response times. These are all issues that dealerships have dealt with. We know how to play the SEO game on the consumer side. You can apply that to recruiting.
What is the ideal response time for job candidates?
The target is 24 hours or less, just like a consumer lead. When we look across our consumer customer base, which is 2,000 dealerships, 90 percent of every hire that’s been made by a dealership using our program was made with someone whose resume was opened in the first 24 hours of submittal. What that says is, if you don’t open resumes within 24 hours, that person will not be available.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities for recruiting?
I would equate it to being an effective digital marketer. What's the Internet manager looking at? They’re making sure their marketing budget is being allocated to the sources of leads that are higher quality and that close at a higher rate. They know how to shift dollars from things that are not working to places that are working. They should be diversifying their marketing spend and spending money where they’re getting higher-quality leads in the same way. Instead, they pick a job board and send it all their money. Would you ever consolidate your lead gen spend to just one? No.
The technology has changed now. We have to play Google’s game. We have to be great at showing up on search engine results.
How should you properly brand your dealership to become a desirable place to work?
Most dealerships have spent a lot of money at branding their consumer-facing sites. We need to take those things that make these dealerships unique and competitive and a great place to buy and translate them to a great place to work.
I’ll give you an example: Let’s say you’re a one-price store and you pay salespeople a fixed base with a bonus. It’s not a full commission sales job. I sell that to the consumer as, “You’re not going to have to negotiate, you won’t have salespeople on commission trying to get you to buy. We’re the friendly way to do business. Our product specialist will be here for you and to help you.” Now let’s translate that: Listen, do you want the confidence and peace of mind that comes from having a guaranteed base salary? Our dealership offers competitive earnings combined with the certainty of the hourly rate. Selling for us is the right choice because we offer base pay, benefits, career opportunities. It’s not the traditional full commission sales job.
The pay plan, the career path, the incentives—that all translates into a workplace opportunity that’s not for everyone but it speaks to them. What is unique? Who am I selling this job to? Why would they buy this from me over somebody else? We have to think of jobs like products. And this industry has not done that.
What does the concept of “predictive hiring” entail?
Predictive hiring is the process by which an employer determines whether or not a job applicant is more or less likely to be successful in the role by measuring the things that predict success in that role. We start with defined outcomes, not job descriptions. The manager would ask, what things will this person need to accomplish in 90 days after he or she starts for me to know if I made the right hiring decision? He or she will have to have complete the OEM certification or bill a certain number of hours. Then we can take those outcomes and we can build a hiring criteria around them that predicts those outcomes.
The example I always use is car insurance. State Farm doesn’t need to meet you in person to know if you have a 16-year-old driver in your family and a sports car in the garage and a spouse who's had five accidents, you’re going to cost them some money. Someone with that risk profile is a pretty high-risk customer. Translate that to the hiring process: If I know you’ve had three jobs in three years for different dealership and you’ve sold eight cars per month and your managers aren't willing to be references for you, you’re probably not a top 25 percent performer in that role.
There are four things that predict success: attitude, accountability, prior related job success, culture fit. All of those things together predict a pretty high chance of success. If they focus on those four things, they’ll make good hires.
Can you provide an example of what predictive hiring looks like in the interviewing process?
I’ll give you an example on the accountability question because it’s the most predictive. You can have an internal or external locus of control. We want someone accountable who feels responsible for the things that happened in his or her life, good or bad. That’s someone with an internal locus.
So, the way we find that out is by asking: When was the last time you set a professional goal for yourself that you failed to achieve? Then the follow-up: Why? If that person has an internal locus of control, he or she will give an answer like, “I should’ve done a better job setting that goal. I set the goal too high. I failed to achieve the resources to make the goal possible. I was understaffed. I offered the wrong incentives.” Someone with an external will say, “They set the goal too high, they didn’t give me what I needed to be successful. The manufacturer didn’t give me the right incentive.”
The reason this is so important to identify is because someone with an internal locus of control is 40 percent more likely to be a more high-performing employees. If you ask one question, ask this one. That’s the one you need to ask first. If they’re not personally accountable, don’t hire them.