Talk to anyone in any position in the car business and I bet they can tell you a story of a terrible First Day on the job. If you are reading this, you are probably in the car business and have your own story to tell.
So often, new employees arrive for their first day—excited and a bit nervous—and their reception that is anything but a “Welcome” and often more like an afterthought—and a bothersome afterthought at that.
My bad First Day went a little like this: I wasn’t greeted by my boss and wasn’t introduced to anyone in the office where I was working. I found my way to the HR offices and was handed some paperwork, and log in information so I could complete the housekeeping like W4, I9, harassment training etc. I was shown where my empty desk was—devoid a desk blotter or even a calendar—and told the name of the accounting clerk (there were maybe 35 employees in accounting) from whom I could order office supplies. Then I was basically left to my own devices. Because I’m pretty outgoing, I wandered in to accounting, took a deep breath, and started introducing myself. I remember thinking: “Oh my God, what have I done?”
This video from Joe Webb at DealerKnows cracks me up every time I see it—The best humor always shows the ridiculousness of reality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnAQVU66S5M
I have a feeling you can relate!
But really--It's Not Rocket Science
There are some really simple ways that dealers can turn this around. A welcoming onboarding for new employees isn’t that hard to do! It’s a process, just like everything else in our wild and wonderful business. There are so many reasons to do this but one of the most important reasons in my opinion is this: New hires today are making a “stay go” decision very quickly—and how they are treated on their First Day will weigh heavily in that decision. Your new hire could be on their Indeed App applying for their next gig, before you even get their hire paperwork in their file!
In the employment environment we are in today—dealers can’t afford to keep focusing on acquiring top talent and ignoring the first steps to RETAIN them. A recent article from SHRM points out, “Most experts agree that retention efforts should start on day one, and this makes the onboarding process crucial to retention success—and, sometimes, a predictor as to whether the employee will be short-term or long-term.”
What will you do today to either improve your onboarding program or start one? If the prospect seems daunting—remember—It’s really not rocket science—take a breath and make a start.
At 11 years old, I began my working life—cashiering for my family’s grocery store. I was not aware of it then, but I was learning about customer service. At the time, I was just excited to receive a pay check so I could go to the mall on Saturdays. I became the smiling face who greeted our customers as they walked in the door. I came to know about their lives and families—I even still remember some of the regular customers’ lottery numbers! I learned to say thank you and mean it as I counted back their change (the old-fashioned way as my dad taught me). I learned that customer service is based in relationship building and genuine caring for others, coupled with a sincere desire to fill their needs. Of course, I was learning from my father’s example as he joked with our customers, asked about their children or parents, sometimes offering delicacies at almost cost—items that were normally unaffordable in our blue-collar neighborhood—building loyalty and thanking them for their patronage that kept our family’s business going.
In The Simple Truths of Service by Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz, the authors state, “Great customer service has to come from the inside out. You cannot mandate it. You can’t threaten, reward, or coerce people to care. You can only awaken the desire and then give them the permission and encouragement to make it come alive in their work” (p 71). Today as a Human Resources Professional I consciously make the effort to take the spirit of service with me into my work. This innate desire to fill the needs of all my stakeholders has helped me create lasting and loyal relationships.
My customers are all internal—the company, managers, and employees. As HR Manager, I’ve often been the smiling face that greets new employees, communicating the company culture, policies and benefits—a representative and profit protection for the organization first and foremost. As HR Manager I’ve created learning relationships with department managers—always with the goal in mind of finding out what they need and how I can help them achieve their goals for their department through hiring and retaining the right people. As HR Manager, I’ve been able to help employees with their requests—from benefit enrollments to FMLA and more. I’ve discovered that when I approach the balance of company, managers, and employees from a customer service orientation I can create win/win outcomes. Thanks Dad!