Focusing on Culture When Hiring

Dec. 21, 2018
It helps to have multiple employees interview your job candidates, because those shop veterans can illustrate the work/life balance your shop can provide.

When it comes to hiring, I take a different approach than most people. I think, if you focus on culture at your company, then it makes the hiring process significantly easier.

I spoke at the 2018 FenderBender Management Conference about how the hiring process hasn’t been a concern of mine for many years now. And that’s because our focus is on the culture of the company; When you have 78 employees speaking to colleagues within the trade about what their work/life experience is like, then other potential hires hear about that. And, when those job prospects have heard that your shop is a positive place to work, then hiring becomes easier.

When we do go through the hiring process, though, our procedure works like this: First, one employee might do a phone interview with the job candidate. Then, another employee might do a quick, 10-minute face-to-face interview.

Then, we almost always do a group interview, and, depending on the position, we’ll have

anywhere from three to six employees help lead the interview. That way my staff can buy in to who we’re hiring. When you do group interviews, the team of employee interviewers will typically share your business’ values, how long they’ve been with the company, what they get out of it, and why they choose to work here.

The good thing about that type of group interview—and that type of group decision-making—is that it illustrates to job candidates that we care what other people think, and that this shop isn’t a dictatorship.

Plus, when job candidates are hired following group interviews, then you tend to have fewer employees end up arguing with that new hire, because they likely voted for that person to be hired. They’re not going to fight with that employee—they’re going to fight for them to be a success.

A lot of employers promise that once a job prospect joins a business that certain things are going to happen, but then they don’t follow up with that. So, whatever commitments you make during the hiring process, you need to make sure you stick to them.

But, if your focus isn’t on the culture of your company, and the quality of life for the employees, then hiring is always going to be a struggle at your shop. I mean, in this industry we already have a hard enough time finding skilled technicians. But it’s going to be really hard to hire when your focus isn’t on what kind of shop you’re operating.

An important issue in this business is a lack trust, where the employee doesn’t trust the employer. So, as an employer, if you make a commitment, you need to keep up with it and take care of the things you promise you’re going to take care of.

I try to focus on what I can do as an employer to give my staff a better quality of life—for example, maybe that entails providing a creative work schedule that’s ideal for everybody. I have friends in the industry that run shops that are open Monday through Thursday longer hours, and then they close at midday on Friday. We don’t do that but, during the summer, we try to over staff so we can make sure that we’re always providing the time off that employees want. You’ve got to figure out what are important factors along those lines in your area and then do everything you can to cater to that, knowing, of course, that business still has to get done.

It’s important to really consider: What can we do to bring value to an employee? I think so much of hiring is having a place that brings value to them beyond just the paycheck. And that could mean health care, retirement, time off, creative work schedules, or creative pay plans.

You have to remember: you’re really not fighting against your competitors for every employee; you’re really just negotiating with that employee in an effort to keep them happy.

About the Author

Ryan Cropper

Ryan Cropper is the former owner of Able Body Shop, with three locations in Anchorage, Alaska, and Total Truck Accessory Center, which recently sold to Classic Collision.

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