Service King’s hiring processes have gone rather smoothly in recent years. One major reason for that: the MSO’s Mission 2 Hire initiative, which, since 2015, has led to more than 550 military veterans being hired in collision repair roles.
Whether those military veterans have been hired as service advisors, general managers, or as directors of operation, they typically deliver.
Lakeitria Luter, Service King’s senior manager of strategic sourcing, praises those veterans for their dependability, and their ability to adapt, if necessary, amid evolving workloads.
“And, most importantly, they see the vision, and how to connect the dots, in order to bring the team along,” Luter adds. “They’re focused, and achievement oriented. They want to continue to grow within the company.”
According to the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, as of the spring of 2019 the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. was 3.8 percent; for veterans, that number is just 2.9 percent. However, while those figures sound relatively encouraging, the United States Department of Labor also reported that there were 326,000 total unemployed veterans in 2018.
And that number doesn’t sit well with executives at Service King.
Luter, along with Sean Huurman—Service King’s chief human resources officer—recently explained their employer’s outlook with regard to hiring military veterans.
Where are we missing the mark, in the U.S., regarding hiring military veterans?
Luter: Companies think they have to have a major budget in order to drive an initiative of hiring veterans, and that’s not the case. A lot of organizations offer free career fairs. They offer free access to veterans, whether it be people giving time to help them with mock interviews, or a resume review, for instance.
Is the collision repair industry making strides when it comes to employing military veterans?
Huurman: At the industry level, absolutely. When you look at MSOs in particular, you see a commitment, not only from Service King but from our peers. I recognize the efforts of everyone in the industry to really advance this cause. I’m excited to see everything that folks are doing to help our veterans make the transition.
Obviously, I’m thrilled with what Service King has been able to do. We’re on a pace where we’re hiring well over 100 veterans a year. We have dedicated recruiting resources that are focused on the specific processes to bring veterans on board, but also responsible for building relationships throughout the military communities and government agencies to be able to create pipelines for us.
What were the key steps Service King took to hire so many veterans?
Luter: The Department of Labor has been a huge partnership for us. And, another sourcing channel that we’ve been able to really build upon is the Military Spouse Employment Partnership; we’ve been partners since Oct. 2015. Also, Hiring Our Heroes, which is through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. So, we’re able to leverage career fairs throughout the United States, where we can find veterans, as well as military spouses. They’ve also provided us with various channels of sourcing, whether it be through LinkedIn, whether it be through them working with our IT department to have all our job openings allocated to their website.
One more recent event that we’ve been able to participate in was a mission to hire in Puerto Rico. We were able to get an opportunity to recruit high school students, and veterans, to bring them back to the States in order to gain employment.
What tips would you offer other MSO operators who are looking to hire military veterans?
Huurman: “It can be intimidating, in terms of figuring out where to start. What we found, through our relationship with the Department of Labor, is that the number of organizations that are out there supporting veterans and that are looking to partner with employers is massive.
So, it’s simply uncovering and finding those relationships with organizations whose sole intent is to help place veterans or transitioning military, and just being able to get on their radar screen.