The value of organized onboarding for new hires at your dealership


Michael Stassen
HR Columnist

So, the dealership has hired a new team member named Mark. He’s arrived for his first day all excited about his new career and asks reception where to get started. What he received in return is a puzzled look.

Reception calls up to the controller or HR, asks about Mark’s arrival and where to send him; they aren’t even aware somebody new is coming on board.
Upon further investigation, it turns out that Mark’s new manager, who is currently nowhere to be found, was desperate for a new team member and hired him on the spot.

Unfortunately, she forgot to pass the paperwork on to HR or payroll.

How do you think Mark feels right now? This fairly common scenario creates at least two major issues:

1.    The dealership simply isn’t ready to on-board Mark efficiently. Computer logins aren’t ready, paperwork is missing, business cards haven’t been ordered, his desk is a mess, etc.

Michael Stassen
Michael Stassen

2.    More importantly, Mark hasn’t received a great first impression of his new employer. Mark was excited and wanted to feel like the dealership was ready for him and they wanted to warmly welcome him onto the team. Instead, he now feels uneasy as the dealership continues to scramble sorting things out.

These two issues end up costing you time, energy, and can potentially start the employer/employee relationship off on the wrong foot. Attracting top talent is one of the key drivers of performance within a dealership.

With high turnover ratios across the country, new-hire onboarding is something that occurs on an ongoing basis.

A 2015 Dealership Workforce Study conducted by the National Automobile Dealers Association out of the U.S. found annualized turnover for all positions in the dealership is 39.4 per cent; sales positions were as high as 71 per cent. That means you’re likely hiring quite a few people annually.

The question arises: how are you handling your new hire employee onboarding procedures? Customers expect professional interaction when they visit your dealership, so shouldn’t your dealership do the same for new team members like Mark?

A key way you can improve your new hire on-boarding process is fairly simple: actually have a process! Some key steps you should consider defining and documenting in your hiring and on-boarding process include:

1.    Ensure your applicants are properly managed while going through the interview process.
2.    Confirming HR/Payroll/Controller are notified when the applicant has accepted an offer and that the paperwork makes it to them in a timely manner.
3.    Creating a preparation checklist to identify by role/position:
a.    What basic tasks need to be done: order business cards, get login credentials, prepare desk, etc.
b.    Who is doing each task: IT for logins, Admin for business cards, direct manager for desk/workspace preparation, etc.
c.    What is the deadline for each task: waiting for your new salesperson’s business cards for a month doesn’t really help them now, does it?
4.    Documentation confirming completion of each task for future reference if required.
5.    Identifying who is welcoming the new team member when they arrive on their first day.
6.    An orientation plan for day one, week one and month one with clearly defined goals so that the new employee can maximize performance right from the start.

If you don’t have a comprehensive system internally, look for a third-party system that predefines and automates those tasks through technology. This ensures the moment a resume is received into the system and continues through the formal hiring process, all tasks are properly tracked and documented.

Think back to Mark’s lacklustre welcome and imagine there was an organized onboarding process in place. His experience would be vastly more positive. His manager would warmly welcome him, his workspace would be organized and ready and Mark could focus on his new career providing value to the dealership and to your customers.

Driving dealership performance can be difficult. The more you can attract, engage, and support your team throughout their career, the more value you can provide for your stakeholders.  It’s simply good business to start off on the right foot.

Michael Stassen is Regional Manager at DealerPILOT HR.  DealerPILOT HR is a leading provider in Human Resources and Health & Safety Automation solutions for the automotive sales and service industry across Canada.  Michael can be contacted at