Joel Furno is aiming low as an employment counselor and trainer whose company puts people to work at car dealerships.
While the recruiting field often focuses on management-level prospects, Furno’s company Citrin focuses on filling entry-level dealership positions, such as porters, valets, car washes and drivers. pick-up/delivery of vehicles.
“These jobs are important” for a well-run, well-staffed dealership, he said during a webinar titled “War for Talent,” hosted by the American International Automobile Dealers Association.
Calling it a war might seem like a stretch to some, but dealerships continually fight — and often compete — for strong entry-level staff.
The revolving door for sellers is approaching 70%, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. Turnover rates from other dealership departments aren’t that drastic.
Failure to attract and retain entry-level workers, in particular, can stress higher-level, revenue-generating employees such as service advisors and automotive technicians.
“It reduces their time with clients and takes them away from their work,” says Furno, President and CEO of Citrin. Therefore, “not having a super team of valets, porters and employees like that puts pressure on management”.
Understaffing at the lower echelons can also impact customer satisfaction scores, lengthen customer wait times, and create disorganized car sales lots.
Citrin helps dealers hire and upgrade newbies.
Dealerships provide career opportunities that can flourish. “Many general managers started out as porters”, Furno (photo, left) Remarks.
But in today’s work climate — in which job openings outnumber applicants — dealerships often struggle to fill lower-level positions.
“For the first time in history, it’s easier (for car dealerships) to generate revenue than to hire and retain employees,” Furno says.
Citrin employs 750 team members who partner with 81 dealerships in 10 cities. Customers range from small stores to large dealer groups, he says. “To compete in this job market, dealerships must place the same importance on acquiring employees as they do on acquiring customers.”
This means posting creative help ads that highlight why someone would want to work for a particular dealership.
He recommends dealerships maintain branded career webpages, with content including testimonial videos from current employees explaining how they like their jobs.
Extra tip from him: Respond to candidates quickly. “Job applications are like sales leads; they don’t age well. Wait days to respond, and by then the job seeker may have landed a spot elsewhere.
“Some dealerships take three weeks to hire someone,” says Furno. “This time must be shortened.”
His other tips for hiring and keeping the base:
- Ensure salaries are competitive. “Watch them to avoid being priced off the market. We have seen some wages go from $13 to $16 an hour in a year in this job market.”
- Develop an onboarding process that quickly connects recruits to their new workplace. “Make sure they have a positive work experience in the first week. And give them time to learn their craft, rather than hiring them and immediately throwing them to the wolves.
Generational issues can show up. All of the rising Gen Z entering the workforce “will not tolerate a toxic work environment,” he says.
That doesn’t mean a dealer should pamper young workers. But if they’re yelled at, mistreated, or otherwise abused, they’ll probably walk. (Not that others won’t.)
Steve Finlay is a retired editor of Wards. He can be reached at [email protected],