Staffing a New Store

Order Reprints
Staffing a New Store
Lessons in new dealership acquisitions.

For the past eight weeks, I have split my time between our main store and our new store in Oklahoma. I have spent every other week at the store putting our processes in place and hiring additional people to be ready for when we start to grow. At the same time, I had work with General Motors to get the service department compliant with all of their programs, while adjusting our processes to match. Most weeks I am at that dealership, I am busier than when I am at the main store.

As for new hires to the store, I started with detailers, an additional service advisor and a parts counter person. With the staff we inherited, if anyone called in sick or needed to take a day off it would cripple the store, which worried me. The biggest challenge when hiring people for a slow store was that I had to be very clear to everyone that, currently, there is not enough business to keep them busy throughout the week and for now, the most important thing is to get all of our processes down so as we grow, they will be prepared to handle our customers the way we need them to. I needed to make sure I hired people that believed in what we want to accomplish with the store.

Next came keeping the current employees’ claim. I believe that most people would get scared for their jobs when a company is taken over. That’s understandable. And having the new management team hire additional people when the store is slow would make them even more uncomfortable about their future. So, for the past several weeks I have spent time explaining parts of our vision and why I am adding processes, new programs and people to the store. I chose not to tell everyone everything about my plan because I believe that if I started with what I want the final outcome to be without building to it, most of the employees would have gotten scared and quit. It goes without saying that I do not want anyone to leave. There may be employees that I need to replace but because I can only be there every other week, I have not been able to assess each employee’s abilities and performance, even though I know it needs to happen.

The next step for me was to hire someone to be me. I needed a full-time director that could assess the employees and hold them accountable for following procedures in my absences. Also, I was getting tired of the travelling. I needed help. But how does someone hire his replacement? I can tell you from experience that this is very difficult. I started by comparing everyone to myself and not judging them for what they have accomplished. It soon became evident that I need to find the person that knew enough about overseeing parts and service to get the job done and would buy into the vision Derek Zeck has for this dealership. I realized I would never find a clone of myself. Instead, I just needed to find someone who could do the job. After interviewing several people that had the qualification, we decided to hire a manager from a local Ford Store.

To be honest, even after I made that hire, it still worried me. I didn’t feel relieved all until his first full week on the job. We brought him up to Leavenworth to observe and train on our programs and see our vision. I was pleasantly surprised to find that seemed to have bought into what we want to accomplish with the new store completely. I am currently at the new store with Ronnie helping him learn and set up his vendors and integrate into the store, and as of now, he is doing great.

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