On-line Trade Show - Seminars
Damage control plan
by Art Little
This article appeared in the January 2001 issue of Transmission Digest.
Recruiting and hiring is one of the most important duties a shop owner has now days. However, sometimes it's like going down the Colorado River in a ten man raft by yourself. The old saying, "The successful people surround themselves with successful people" is easier said than done. Everyone wants to be successful but recruiting and hiring is a hard job that is time consuming as well as expensive. That is why allot of busy shop owners settle for the employees they have right now and put off recruiting until someone walks off. Unfortunately, this recruiting strategy creates what I call "panic hiring" and costs the shop more than you know.
The "panic hiring" strategy causes payroll costs to climb because you are in a bind to find someone to fill the position immediately if not sooner. That is not a great position to be in as a recruiter for your shop. What happens is, we raid our competitors shops and hire the first person we can find that will quit the shop he is working at and come to work for us right now. Most of the time we get this "loyal employee" to come to work for us right now by paying him more than he is worth. Anybody is better than nobody right? Sound familiar? The problem is, this "quick fix employee" will more than likely not work out long term and then you will have to go find another "quick fix employee" to replace him. It's like marrying a woman that you met when she was married. What makes you think she won't leave you if a better offer comes along? The "panic hiring" strategy gets you into a cycle of constantly hiring the wrong employees. And, besides running up your payroll, creates low moral for your shop and high turnover rate.
If turnover becomes a common problem in your shop you also take the chance of loosing the good employees you already have. A Transmission shop is a team and when you are short a man all the time it means the rest of the team has to take up the slack for the shop while you are looking for a replacement. This gets old real quick to the good employees you already have on your staff because they have to work harder and longer to carry the extra load. They are only human and if you keep making the same recruiting mistakes they will get tired of it and go to work somewhere else. How much does that cost the shop? Hard to put a dollar figure on it.
Shop moral is another hidden cost you face when you use the "panic hiring strategy". Let's face it, if the shop is always behind, you are not making any money, and the customers are going crazy, moral in the shop suffers. It is hard to have a good attitude when everyone is over worked and the shop is not making any money. I don't think anyone will argue the fact that bad attitudes cost you money and will lead to law suits and who knows what else. It is amazing how many problems are created by poor hiring practices when you start thinking about it.
Sales at the shop suffer when you are under staffed. All managers have a comfort level. I don't care who he is, the manager will quit selling if he has warranty mounting up and a builder or installer missing in action. Remember, along with the irate customers, he also has to interact with the employees every day and has the responsibility of managing the employees that are over burdened. He has to monitor the other employees and make sure those employees he has don't quit. Trust me, sales will slack off until the shop gets back to a level he is comfortable with. Sales during those times are like water under the bridge. Once they are gone they are gone for good.
If you are in this rut, you can do something about it. Your shop does not have to suffer if you make the decision to develop an organized and consistent recruiting strategy.
Begin by being honest with yourself and look at the facts. There is a shortage of transmission specialists. Our competitors are going to steal our employees. The employees are going to quit for a variety of reasons we can't control. Some employees are going to be fired for reasons that are no fault of our own. Finding the right employees is the number one problem shop owners face today. However, for every problem there is a solution.
In any business, if you know you are going to have a problem no matter what you do, you must develop a damage control plan in order to minimize damages. An "employee damage control plan" requires getting organized and developing a consistent recruiting strategy. You can't afford the waste created for the shop by being unorganized and recruiting only when you have a walk out. You must now be pro-active rather that re-active.
Start by getting organized to recruit for your shop. The first step to getting organized is to choose one place to recruit. Keep everything in that one place so you don't loose anything. It is better to get away from the shop to do your recruiting. You can set up a work area at home and keep all your recruiting tools and notes there. If you mix it up with other shop duties at the shop it will not get done. Set up a vanilla folder on each employee you talk to. Write down dates of contact and notes on each conversation you have with all employees. Try and remember, at the end of your conversation, to always ask every employee you are talking to if he has any friends who might fit into your organization. You never have too many prospects and this is a good way to build your prospect list.
The next step is to set a certain time to recruit. You can set your own hours to recruit, but I found that recruiting between the hours of 7:30 and 9:30 PM on Thursday worked best for me. Employees are generally home that night. Most importantly, discipline yourself to recruit every week at the same time, even when you have a full crew. Be consistent. The more recruits you have "on deck" the better. You will be surprised how fast your prospect list of employees will grow. Then, when you have a walk out, you do not have to start from scratch. You can go to the employees you have already been talking to.
Your recruiting strategy affects your profits. Poor recruiting policies create a cost for the shop that few shop owners can afford. The shop owners that are pro-active recruiters know that an organized and consistent recruiting strategy will cost you less time and money than recruiting on the " panic hiring strategy". Shop owners must be honest with themselves and realize that they have created this problem by re-acting rather than pro-acting to employee problems facing their shop. Then, do something about it by making the decision to get organized and discipline themselves to recruit on a consistent basis. The number one problem facing the industry shop owners does not have to be the number one problem at your shop if you have a good damage control plan. You do have a choice. Give yourself and your employees a break and start working toward surrounding yourself with successful people. You can do it.