Friendship Automotive of Bristol, Tenn., a 10-store group in Tennessee and North Carolina, early in the crisis altered employee schedules and hours of operation and instituted split shifts for some employees to keep functions going, said Alana Wilson, Friendship's human resources manager.
Friendship also had some workers opt to take voluntary layoffs, and it did have to lay some people off temporarily, Wilson said. But the dealership group also made some new hires as business rebounded, and Friendship now has a few more employees than it did pre-COVID-19, she said.
The group's Hyundai store in Johnson City, Tenn., also has a new children's space. Friendship is allowing some employees stuck for child care options to bring their children to work with them, Wilson said.
The pandemic also has at least temporarily changed hiring and training practices, dealership hiring experts say.
David Adragna, president of recruiting firm Autopeople in El Dorado Hills, Calif., helps place people in leadership positions such as general manager, controller and service department manager in dealerships across the country.
While videoconferencing was seldom used for hiring interviews before the pandemic, even for out-of-state candidates, the tool is "almost standard procedure now," Adragna said.
"We do this all over the U.S., so it's not limited to any geographical area," he said, adding that it's helping his clients save time and money. "I see it all the time. And it makes sense."
Dan Milewski, human resources manager at Fred Beans Automotive Group of Doylestown, Pa., said in the Automotive News survey that the retailer is protecting its recruiting and management staff by limiting their in-person contact with job candidates. "By moving more of our hiring processes to a virtual format, we added a layer of protection against the spread of illness by limiting the number of people on-site during the pandemic," Milewski said.
Hireology's Robinson said some dealership groups he works with have shifted all of their employee training online to help maximize employee safety.
"Until a vaccine is widely distributed, you're going to see a continued shift toward virtual training for dealerships," he said. "After the pandemic is under control and after vaccines have been widespread, it is my hypothesis that dealers will reinstitute in-person training."