Virtually everyone in the auto industry knows that it’s a tight labour market, and it has been difficult for many dealers to find the types of skilled workers needed for increasingly complex jobs.
But what can dealers do about it? Examining some of the 2019 Best Dealerships to Work For in Canada provides a glimpse into what dealers are willing to do to attract the right people to their stores.
For starters, many are looking to facilitate the work-life balance for employees. Dealerships can be demanding places to work, with long hours and pressure to perform well in sales, F&I, service and elsewhere. As with any demanding job, it can be difficult for workers to maintain a work-life balance that allows them to excel on the job.
In many cases, allowing flexible hours can go a long way toward achieving that goal. Just under half, or 48 per cent, of Best Dealerships winners said they offered employees the option to work flexible hours or a compressed workweek as a standard practice.
“People are making decisions on where they’re going to work based on their work-life balance,” said Peter Burke, president of the Best Companies Group, which administered the Best Dealerships program and determined the winners.
Many of the winning dealerships also seemed to emphasize finding ways to reduce stress at work and to make life easier for everyone. For example, 64 per cent of winning dealerships said they provide cafeteria or meal subsidies or free daily snacks or beverages. Dealerships reported bringing in food trucks and hosting barbecues as well as offering nights out, bowling nights and other ways for employees to blow off steam after work and get to know co-workers better.
And, of course, it’s not just retailers that made the Best Dealerships list that are finding unique ways to attract employees. Automotive News Canada reported in September that Nova Scotia-based Steele Auto Group, which needs to fill 100 positions, is offering up to $7,500 for relocation assistance as a way to attract qualified candidates. Drawing qualified workers is a particular challenge in the Atlantic region, where the labour force has decreased in recent years despite gains in other parts of the country.
To be sure, there is no one-size-fitsall solution for dealers looking to hire skilled workers and retain them. Each dealership has its own culture, values and systems that can make an effective solution at one store utterly useless at another.
But if you’re a dealer or a manager, take a look at what other dealerships across the country are doing and see what might work for you. There might be something worth trying, and that could end up making your store a workplace that attracts the next key member to your team.