A pipeline of college coaches and professors is helping Zeigler Automotive Group avoid many of the hiring challenges facing dealers.
The Kalamazoo, Mich., dealership group has recruited 250 college students in the past 10 years, and 90 percent of them have moved from intern status to full-time employment. While recruiting at colleges through job fairs or placement offices is common for sizable auto retailers, Zeigler has taken a different approach by striking up relationships with professors and coaches at 16 colleges near the group's 26 dealerships in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.
By going beyond online job advertisements, Zeigler is able to tap into a talent market outside the automotive industry, said Aaron Zeigler, president of the dealership group. The strategy has improved employee turnover rates and customer satisfaction levels, he said, which helps boost sales and profitability.
"We have decreased employee turnover to the single digits," Zeigler said. "Historically, especially on the sales end, turnover was much higher. ... These pipelines have helped us maintain a steady stream of people coming into the organization, and that's really helped us grow."
When Zeigler took over the family business 15 years ago, it had annual sales of $180 million. That's grown to $1.3 billion estimated this year, said Zeigler, who has expanded the group through store acquisitions. Zeigler Automotive retails about 3,000 vehicles per month — around 1,500 new and 1,500 used.