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Always Be Looking!

With apologies to Alec Baldwin’s definitive sales strategy in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, people in the powersports industry should “Always Be Looking” rather than closing.

Have a Plan B for Employees

With apologies to Alec Baldwin’s definitive sales strategy in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, people in the powersports industry should “Always Be Looking” rather than closing. A high percentage of motorcycle dealerships don’t seem to get the ABCs of running a business in terms of employment. We all know that shops generally have high turnover in sales, parts and especially service personnel, yet most employers are not proactive in looking for employees before they need them.

Your staff is critically important to keeping your doors open, yet many close-minded dealerships don’t have a backup plan. The benefits of having a Plan B pay off in the long run.
Your staff is critically important to keeping your doors open, yet many close-minded dealerships don’t have a backup plan. The benefits of having a Plan B pay off in the long run.

PF_iStock_000017360225_LargeI have an online business and I don’t have just one computer, I have two of them in case one quits on me. I don’t just have a backup of my website in case the server quits, I have two backups!

Always Be Looking! Your staff is critically important to keeping your doors open, yet many close-minded dealerships don’t have a back up plan. Yes, hiring backup or apprentice employees would increase your personnel costs, but the benefits of having a Plan B pay off in the long run. If you have one key tech, maybe hiring a recent MMI grad on a part-time basis to get him or her familiar with your business would fit in your budget? It is much easier to get a trained apprentice up and running should the day ever come that you are faced with abruptly being without the one person that is absolutely vital to your operation.

Your employees might be perfectly happy working at your dealership and may not even be looking for a new job. The fact is that most people don’t like looking for a new job and typically don’t like change in general. It would be more comfortable to find the sort of job that allows progress and promotion over time while enjoying the job and company. Unfortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule in this industry. The days of 40 years of service and a gold watch from a grateful employer ended with our grandfathers!

It isn’t just the motorcycle industry; many companies don’t expect life-long loyalty anymore. Most people are focused on following their career path, and they treat the work place as a series of stepping-stones rather than a bedrock lifetime gig. Sure, if you give employees an opportunity to use all of their knowledge and skills in their job, they will feel valuable to the business and are more likely to stay on. More importantly, they need to benefit from the incentive of compensation for performance… but that is a topic for a column unto itself!

[pullquote]“The days of 40 years of service and a gold watch from a grateful employer ended with our grandfathers! Most people are focused on following their career path, and they treat the work place as a series of stepping-stones rather than a bedrock lifetime gig.”[/pullquote]

With access to the Internet, social media channels like LinkedIn, online recruiters and yes, Motorcycleindustryjobs.com, your employees have unlimited access to job openings. Seems like employees have the Always Be Looking mantra down…
So as an employer you better be working on a Plan B, too.

MIJ recently had a dealership wanting to repost a “help wanted” ad from two years ago because the employee he hired though MIJ had moved on. I noted that his 2-year-old ad had 14 applicants and I asked if had he tried calling them first. The dealer replied, “No, those were old applicants.” At the risk of losing business, I asked him to research those “old” applicants to see if any of them looked interesting. We found one applicant who matched his needs for an “A” level mechanic. He called the applicant and simply asked what he had been doing for the past two years and if he would be interested in talking about a position. Long story short, he ended up hiring him!

That employee was not looking for a job, but a job was looking for him. Now that mechanic’s ex-employer is looking for a new tech and coincidently he came to MIJ looking for a replacement in a panic. He needed a replacement fast, so he posted a help wanted ad and also tried out MIJ’s resume browsing service.

You know best how your dealership works, but I would urge you to consider the long-term benefits of having a backup plan. Bring in an apprentice to save you the imminent stress if you ever have the unfortunate event of losing a key employee… or at least keep the most promising resumes on file. And remember: Always Be Looking! 

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