MMI: Skillset is good, but fit is better

Publish Date: 
Feb 19, 2011

DEALER EXPO, Indianapolis, Ind. - When it comes to hiring technicians, most dealers don’t do it efficiently. Many tech openings are last minute. Dealers experience a lot of turnover, and loss of money and morale.

To help dealers know how to hire the right technicians for their needs, Mary Joseph and Derek Beck of Motorcycle Mechanics Institute led a two-part Learning Experience seminar Saturday on how to hire, train and retain entry-level service technicians.

For the first half, Mary Joseph, director of employment services for MMI, explained some of the common mistakes in the hiring process and how to screen applicants efficiently. “My goal is to put my students not into any job, but the right job to fit them,” explained Joseph. “I don’t want people bouncing from job to job.”

Too many dealers only concern themselves with applicants’ skills, Joseph said. Appropriate skills are only the first step; the interview process should focus on the traits that will lead to a potential fit in the business. “Most people just hire for skills, and that’s not the key factor,” she explained. “Skills should be a given, but how will they fit into your company culture?”

Joseph recommended that dealers draft a half-dozen questions to determine how an applicant might fit from a behavioral perspective. “Draft these questions before you ever look at resumes,” Joseph said. Many common interviewing techniques remain applicable, but these new questions should be designed so you can learn how an applicant will work with supervisors and co-workers, and how they will fit into your company culture and values.

Finally, “make your expectations clear,” she said. “Be honest about your plans and goals, explain the new hire’s first days, first months, and even how their first year might go.”

Derek Beck, MMI education manager, discussed what happens after you make the decision to hire an individual. “Be ready to receive your new hires,” he said. “It’s extremely important to integrate new employees, as their first day will dictate their experience for the rest of their stay.”

Beck urged employers to create and maintain an orientation process, company standards and responsibilities. A common problem in this industry is a lack of engagement with new employees, which only leads to demoralized staff in the long term. “Welcome someone into your business with the same energy and attitude as saying goodbye to a longtime employee,” he said.

Beck urged dealers to maintain that initial energy from the interview. “Be as involved as possible with your new hire, and follow through with regular feedback during the year, as people naturally want to hear communication,” he said. “Even your “A-level” tech looks for feedback that help motivate them to succeed.”

– Bruce Steever