Hudson RPO Supports Luxury Car Manufacturer Dealership Network Revamp
Consumers accustomed to online shopping and the ultraclean look of Apple stores have become increasingly impatient with the 20th century ambience of most auto dealerships. In response, luxury car makers have started to realize that they need to evolve their dealership experience to remain relevant and meet customer expectations. For many luxury car manufacturers, this evolution entails changes not only to the physical spaces of their dealerships, but also to the skills and capabilities required of dealership employees.
In May 2012, a well-known global luxury car maker began rolling out its “Future Retail” initiative, patterning changes on what has happened to retail outside the automotive world and establishing new dealership standards. The “HR Retail Solution” was developed to support the larger initiative, with the goal of driving best practices throughout its dealer network. This effort included retooling the competency models for dealership employees and adding a new non-commissioned product “Genius" role to the mix to explain the complex and fast-changing technology in the company’s cars without the pressure to close a sale.
To fill this new genius role and other key dealership vacancies, the company began targeting potential candidates with high-end luxury sales experience outside the traditional dealership talent pool – specifically the hospitality industry, and electronics, technology and other service sectors. The car maker was looking for candidates with emotional empathy, great communication skills, and the drive to excel in a service environment. Dealership experience was not necessary or preferred.
As the car maker had no centrally supported recruitment strategy or processes for selection and assessment for its dealerships, the company contracted with Hudson RPO Australia in May 2012 to manage recruiting efforts for their dealerships there.
Historically, each of the company’s dealerships recruited for vacant positions on an ad-hoc basis, usually via referral or internally through job boards or print advertisement. This often failed to meet minimum quality standards due to ineffective advertising, limited direct sourcing and inconsistent selection procedures. Only a small number of the dealerships had a dedicated HR manager or recruiter or engaged external providers to assist in recruiting. Overall, little to no focus was put on the organization’s employer brand in the wider market.
Since using Hudson RPO is not mandatory for dealers, both the Australia and US teams had to sell its services to each of the car maker’s dealerships, many of whom were unwilling to give up control. Additionally, many of the dealerships had not bought into the Future Retail initiative as a whole and were resistant to what they considered outside influence.
Undaunted, soon after Hudson RPO Australia was selected, the team conducted a national roadshow to introduce the program to the dealership network and, in doing so, tried to learn the nuances of each dealership to facilitate relationship building.
Hudson RPO Australia delivered a total talent management solution , with an integrated program with solutions for candidate attraction, selection and recruitment, and assessment and development, which dealerships could buy into for their recruiting needs. In this way, Hudson RPO provides a central point of contact for recruitment across the dealership network.
The first order of business was validating an analysis of key drivers for staff attraction/retention developed by the car maker’s UK-based team to ensure alignment with the Australian market.
Employee Value Proposition:
With the key drivers in hand, Hudson RPO Australia helped the company uncover its employee value proposition or EVP, developing messages that articulate the rewards and benefits employees receive in return for their performance at the workplace. Once these messages were developed, the Hudson team created a strategy for communicating the EVP to a wider audience.
Career Site Build:
Next, the Hudson RPO team project managed the execution and delivery of a dedicated dealer career website, working with the company’s internal stakeholders as well as its external media and advertising agency partners.
The career site is an entry point to the application process and describes the car manufacturer’s career offerings and what a dealership career is like. In order to create an interactive and dynamic candidate experience, the Hudson RPO Australia team shot and produced feature videos of current employees sharing their work experiences to give potential employees insight into a career with the organisation.
Online Media – Job Advertising Templates and Social Media:
Additionally, the Australia team worked with the company’s creative agency to deliver refreshed job ad templates with language aligned to its EVP as well as targeted online banners. Both LinkedIn and Facebook were used to communicate with passive/prospective candidates and promote familiarity and interaction with the brand.
The team also instituted a rigorous, standardized assessment process for selecting new staff and developing existing managers.
To support the new process, Hudson Talent Management designed role-specific selection assessment tools and Assessment Centers for a range of positions from Sales Consultants and Sales Managers to Service Managers and Used Car Sales Consultants.
Annual Appraisal Process:
Hudson RPO Australia worked with the car maker to design an Annual Appraisal Process (AAP) to enhance management skills and drive a culture of ongoing employee and manager feedback within dealerships. Hudson RPO rolled out the AAP through a series of 13 workshops for more than 70 managers in dealerships nationwide. A range of best-practice tools and documents were also developed to refine the existing appraisal process.
Building on the work achieved for the car maker in Australia, Hudson RPO in the Americas was selected in October 2013 to further the company’s efforts to drive HR best practices throughout their US dealership network. Hudson was tasked with developing a recruitment solution similar to the one provided in Australia as well as adjusting the company’s EVP and careers website for the US market.
As part of the account start-up process, the Hudson RPO Americas team surveyed current dealership employees to find out where they first learned about their positions. Similarly, the team also surveyed people in targeted industry user groups on LinkedIn to find out how/where they usually look for jobs. This information was helpful in developing a targeted sourcing strategy.
The majority of the work done by Hudson RPO Americas thus far has been in sourcing planning and talent pipelining four positions – a Client Advisor, Service Advisor, Technician, and the new “Genius” role – as well as developing a competency-based assessment process that includes personality and cognitive ability measures.
- With 17 dealers participating in the program, the Hudson RPO Australia team placed 42 of 100 open positions since in the first nine months, which equates to a conversion rate of 42 percent. A majority of the filled positions were sales roles.
- Of the 4,457 applicants applying for these roles, nearly 13% came through the updated career website
- Short-listed candidates are provided to dealerships an average of seven days after Hudson is notified of an open position.
- The time between when job vacancies are assigned to the candidate receiving their offer letters averages less than 22 business days.
- Hudson RPO Americas has placed a total of 56 positions within the first nine months of the assignment, with approximately 70 dealerships participating.