Published in Automotive

The Importance of Onboarding in the Automotive Industry: Part 2

To view the first part of this blog series, click here

The Important First Day of the Employee Journey

In the last blog on the Employee Experience in the Automotive industry, we looked at the strategic importance and economic benefit of an effective onboarding process and focused on what should happen prior to the employee’s start date.

In this post, we’ll look at what happens when employees arrive on their first day. As before, we are focusing on the automotive industry, but the principles equally apply to other industries as well.

Creating a Welcome Kit

Once the day has arrived, you want to make it special and the best way to do that is to create an exceptional first impression. Have your receptionist be aware of the start date and ensure that the new employee is welcomed appropriately.

In fact, consider creating a “Welcome Kit” that contains numerous positive first impression opportunities such as branded assessories. Have a welcome letter from the Dealer Principal, or even from the OEM President, prepared and left at the new employee’s desk.

Often items like these are used daily and a new hire will feel an immediate attachment, so much so that they will often continue to use them for years all the while linking back to that first day.

Lastly, provide any desktop resources and in this case, the term desktop is in the literal sense. Any print materials such as dealership newsletters, upcoming community involvement notices, employee recognition programs -anything that conveys positive dealership activity will help to make a new employee feel good about their decision to join the team.

From an online standpoint, consider adding a dedicated Welcome page to your intranet or LMS.  Creating a specific Welcome starting point will be engaging and will direct a new hire to specific curriculum best suited for their role.

Be sure to include a Welcome video or a step-by-step tutorial of where and when to access available training resources which, again, builds on that important first impression and helps to ease the potential training concerns people face with any new job.

As the day continues, ensure a dealership tour takes place and introduce the new hire to the various departments and team members.  This is just as important for the existing team as for the new hire as positive introductions will help break the ice and hopefully lead to productive working relationships.

Engaging the New Employee Beyond the First Day

After the tour, review any administrative processes and outline not only the orientation for the remainder of the day, but also for the week ahead. For example, if this is a sales role, you may want to suggest the new hire learn as much as possible about one specific model per day.

Encourage them to drive the vehicle and speak with other salespeople. Have them talk to the service personnel to better understand the maintenance requirements of the vehicles they’ll be selling. Learning all the details of an entire product lineup can be daunting, so focus on small daily or weekly goals that are attainable.

To sustain this positive feeling past the first day, OEMs or even large dealer groups should consider conducting monthly webinar sessions for new hires. This would be a great way to meet others, online at least, who are in a similar situation and allows for the moderator to run through the onboarding process once again to promote upcoming events, answer outstanding questions, and receive important feedback.

This also could be a great opportunity for a short, anonymous employee survey to uncover any opportunities for improvement in the onboarding process.

Who Should Lead the Onboarding?

In terms of leading the onboarding, often this is left up to a Sales or Service Manager and while this is optimal, typically these managers are busy and other responsibilities may interfere with the full attention they can bring.

As an alternative, consider creating a role for an onboarding Champion, an individual whose responsibility it is to see that new employees are thoroughly walked through the onboarding process and are there to help answer additional questions in the upcoming days and weeks ahead.

This role would not take the place of a manager, as it would likely be a secondary role for a peer in the new hire’s respective department and as such, is designed to be another level of support.

When developing this role, consider making it a possible precursor to a management position as it will involve people skills, accountability, and guidance – all valuable traits in any future manager.

Onboarding is an Essential Part of the Employee Experience

To recap, onboarding is an essential part of the employee experience. Onboarding any new hire will be most effective when done in a consistent process. Include it in the hiring stage, allowing you to demonstrate your commitment to their success, the level of support available, and necessary accountability to complete the required curriculum.

Turnover is costly and leads to lower employee and customer satisfaction so ensure you take onboarding seriously and allocate the necessary resources to make a new hire feel comfortable, valued and a welcome part of your dealership family.

Onboarding is one of the most important processes a dealership can have, as it often predicates the likelihood of a new hire actually staying long term and starting a successful career. Not only will the implementation make a difference in the company, but it will also help individual employees to feel valued and achieve their career goals.