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Re-Staffing in the Wake of COVID-19

3 Tips on Hiring for the Economic Recovery. Right now, no one knows what the economy will look like on the other side of this pandemic, but it’s essential to have a plan to rebuild your business for the future.

Dealers across the nation were forced to lay off staff in the past few weeks, and some of those employees won’t be coming back. Once the economy starts moving again — and it will — many dealers will face the challenge of rebuilding various departments. While this might seem like a daunting task, there’s a more positive way to look at it: This is an opportunity to reinvent your dealership.

Making the right hiring decisions will be critical to restarting your dealership’s sales efforts. The temptation will be to find warm bodies for the positions you had and get things quickly back to “normal.” However, putting thought into what your dealership will need for the future gives you a competitive advantage over dealerships who settle for “business as usual.”

Here are three actions to take now to reinvent your dealership.

1. Re-evaluate Your Organizational Structure

The way your resources were allocated and coordinated to achieve your dealership’s financial and growth goals may have been adequate before the pandemic struck. That strategy, however, will need to be re-evaluated and updated for the social and economic realities of the post-COVID environment.

Consider the following areas of your dealership:

  • BDC: Automotive sales were already moving toward more of an online model before the coronavirus quarantines. Now, even more consumers have learned, through necessity, that they too enjoy the convenience of shopping from their homes. What will you need to do to grow your BDC and internet sales departments to meet the increased demands of online shoppers
  • Sales: Many of the consumers who needed vehicles before the pandemic will be ready to make a deal when COVID has run its course. Will you have enough salespeople to handle their business? Do you have the right number of sales managers and finance managers in place
  • Service: Some customers will be holding onto their current vehicles longer until they feel the economy has stabilized; this will generate an increase in service opportunities. Is your dealership adequately staffed for technicians and service advisors?
  • Overall: Do you have the right people in the right places? Are your team members well-trained and well-versed in your dealership’s products and services? Are your sales, BDC and service departments integrated to effectively manage an influx in demand and maximize your dealership’s profits?

This break is the perfect time to review your numbers and your dealership’s organizational structure. By making changes where necessary and ensuring that you have the right personnel mix, you will position your dealership to make the most of every opportunity when the economy rebounds.

2. Invest in Professional Hiring Assistance

Many employers will be racing to replace their staff, and there will be massive competition from multiple industries to meet the pent-up demands. Simply posting hiring ads online will be equivalent to fishing in a pond with hundreds of other fishermen. Hiring professionals to oversee your recruitment process enables you to bring in top talent. The right staffing service will source — and pre-screen — a pool of both active and passive job seekers.

Professional hiring teams have the right tools and techniques — affiliations with major job portals, effective interviewing and communication skills, knowing the characteristics to look for in an applicant, and more — to find the right people who demonstrate a high propensity to succeed in the required role. These individuals are selectively vetted and, once hired, trained and acclimated for success. Getting professional recruiting and training assistance is vital in attracting and retaining the right talent for your dealership.

3. Have a Plan, But Maintain Your Flexibility

Changes and evolution in consumer behavior might mean that you need to start hiring in phases, ramping up to full capacity. It could mean you need to hit the ground running once the quarantines have ended. If you prepare for whatever shape the future might take, you’ll find yourself in better shape, both for meeting consumer demands and for finding the best people for your dealership.

These are uncertain times, and uncertainty is uncomfortable. If you take advantage of this break in the action, however, you’ll be much better equipped to face the future over those who fall back to “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset. Now is the time to design a strategy and find the right team to bring it to life. To quote Grant Cardone, “Bad things happen to good people who don’t plan.”