If you drove down my street, you would not notice anything all that unique. I live on a quiet cul de sac not far from a busy road used more by commuters looking for a bypass than by residents.
The house to one side of me belongs to Steve, his wife, Dot, their chihuahua Maggie and a Jay Flight Swift SLX 154BH that holds court in the driveway during the rainy season. If you hang out long enough, you will hear stories about their camping trips.
Now if you drive down my street, something is different. Steve is selling his Jay Flight Swift SLX.
He bought the RV a couple of years into retirement, when he and his wife decided they wanted to camp but not make a bigger investment with their fixed income. For two people, the camper was the perfect size and he parked it in his driveway without neighbors complaining. When they wanted a weekend away, Steve would hitch the vehicle to his truck and off they went.
He was so delighted with his camping experiences. Whenever the RV vanished from the driveway, I knew Steve would want to talk about all the fun they had when it appeared again. He seemed to love that vehicle, which is why I was so surprised when he informed me he is selling it.
He had bought the used unit from a friend who was upgrading to an RV better suited for his family’s needs. He sold the vehicle to Steve for far below market value. Because of that, Steve had never really investigated the options or assessed his own RV needs.
The Jay Flight looked like it would be a good fit, and for a while, it was. Over time though, Steve and Dot started realizing that they wanted more of a kitchen, a larger sleeping area and a dozen other small details that weren’t important at first but eventually added up to a realization they should start looking for new vehicle options.
They are reassessing what they want out of the RV experience, breaking down each element and using that information to research what is available. Dot spends most of her free time on various websites filtering through all the noise. Searching the internet is a wonderful rabbit hole to fall into, but it can be stressful and time consuming.
Finding a new employee is a similar experience. You may have certain requirements that need to be met. You try to find the best fit from the pool of candidates available. Far too often, you might pick someone who seems great initially, over time you start noticing little things that add up to bigger issues. You may wish you had done a little more “kicking the tires” before hiring them.
This situation leads in two directions: starting from scratch to find a new hire, which is not necessarily practical or even possible all the time, or determining how to get the best performance from the current employee, not based on dream scenarios but on realistic assessments of their individual strengths.
When attracting and retaining top talent for your dealership, you have to keep a lot of different things in mind. You need to walk around the position as if you are doing a final inspection. What are the qualities of your ideal candidate? What skill sets have other top performers in that department had that made them successful? How does each fit into your dealership culture?
Having the answers to these general bullet points is important, but so is knowing that the “ideal” candidate is like owning your dream fifth wheel—even the best of them need stabilizers to keep from rocking.
People can get wrapped up in the big picture and miss the details, a scenario much like improperly securing an awning. Attending to the details takes only a couple of minutes to do properly, but skipping this step could create a costly disaster. When assessing human behavior, consider all the big picture elements, but also all the little details that can add up to larger issues later.
With an older RV, common problems can be easily identified and fixed by anyone handy with tools. But some problems require a certified technician to find the underlying causes. The same is true regarding your workforce.
Some issues will be easily solved, but many others will benefit from your understanding of what is actually happening under the hood. This means having the right diagnostic tool and the training of how to properly use that tool to make the needed adjustments. With RV repair, many specialized options and tools exist, but for employees, an employee behavioral assessment can be helpful.
Perspective is so important and often hard to gain. Side mirrors are sometimes labeled with “objects may be closer than they appear” for a reason; a mere glance might give you the wrong impression about the state of the road and where traffic is around you. This also happens all the time with hiring people, too.
We have all known people who overshare or who blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, even in a professional setting, or people who make emotional decisions without stopping to think about them. They misjudge what they should be saying or doing. That behavior amounts poor perspective, and at your dealership, such a view can be as bad as relying on side mirrors to see the traffic behind you.
Sometimes having a high-quality backup camera is essential—to get a better idea of what is actually behind you rather than merely around you. Many first-time RV buyers might overlook such details to their detriment. Avoid making the same mistake at your dealership when hiring. Measuring perspective in potential and current staff can give you a crisp and accurate portrayal of what the possible dangers are and how to adjust to know when you have to “pump the brakes” and when you can keep reversing.
Also consider looking into someone’s general flexibility versus stubbornness. We have all encountered people willing to take instruction and learn the right way to do a task, and those who, regardless of the amount of training, want to do the task their way. This trait does not always show itself right away. It can be as frustrating as a new starter that is going bad.
Assessments can help you understand a new employee’s personality and work ethic to go into the relationship with open eyes. Would Steve and Dot want to make a change now if they had understood more about their Jay Flight and their specific future needs when they purchased it? Probably not. Discovering those little things ahead of time is immensely helpful.
Maybe you prefer someone who is naturally super-organized in your sales department. By knowing in advance that your candidate may have difficulty multitasking but can stay organized if given time and space to create their own process, you then have the opportunity to start them on a path to success. If a candidate does her best work when she can “look at the big picture,” perhaps you can pair them with someone whose attention to detail mitigates future paperwork problems or errors that eventually arise.
Your candidates have “a lot more happening under the hood” than most people stop to consider. Investing in the right diagnostic tools gives you a huge advantage when looking to recruit the right personnel and retain them over the long run.
I spoke with Steve this morning about some models he is considering. He and Dot have narrowed down the field considerably. They plan to start visiting dealerships in person in the next couple of days. I have not heard him this excited in a while. He is ready for the next adventure. Are you with your hiring?
Wendy Sheaffer—Chief Product Officer at The Omnia Group, an employee assessment firm providing the power of behavioral insight to help organizations make successful hires and develop exceptional employees. Wendy is a subject matter expert in using Omnia’s 8 columns as a tool to make more-informed hiring and development decisions and effectively engage staff. She works directly with clients and Omnia staff to provide a deeper understanding of how to use personality data to meet business goals. For more information, visit us at www.OmniaGroup.com, email [email protected] or call 800.525.7117.