In a changing world, where potential tech and transportation hires are wooed with flexible hours and pay plans, dealers still are treating employees as though they have no choice but to be there, experts say.
Competition in the auto retail industry is fierce. The hours can be long and grueling. Employees regularly strike deals in the glow of midnight oil, only to arrive at the dealership early the next day. Few employees stick around the same dealership for more than two years, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association's 2017 Dealership Workforce Study.
Treating employees like stakeholders, not pawns, is the key to nurturing a workspace where top performers want to be, EFG Cos. CEO John Pappanastos told Automotive News. Especially in the finance and insurance office, where mistakes can cost dealerships far more than a sale, hiring the right people matters.
Part of the challenge is balancing a work force that values competition over culture. Promoting and praising salespeople who demonstrate cutthroat tactics breeds mistrust among employees. Dealers aware of employees who practice unsavory sales tactics should reprimand them to set a precedent for the store, Pappanastos said.
The negative stereotype that comes with auto retail, Pappanastos said, "makes it difficult for [dealerships] to attract talent to the industry."
"I just don't get why these guys don't see their employees as a key stakeholder. They don't understand they are in the service industry," he said.
The key to attracting talent is linking economics to culture. Employees should not be treated as commodities, but Hireology CEO Adam Robinson says some dealers have better processes in place for their products than their staff members.
"If you show me a business that's been named best place to work, I will show you a business that spends a lot of time getting their hiring process right," Robinson told Automotive News. "It doesn't happen by accident."