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Kevin Baumgart

Kevin Baumgart

Author's details

Name: Kevin Baumgart
Date registered: April 28, 2016

Biography

As VP of Business Development at Hireology, Kevin’s focus is to help their retail automotive clients to improve the people side of the dealership. Kevin was employee #3 at Hireology and has spent his entire 15-year career in sales and sales management for entrepreneurial and start-up companies. He has interviewed thousands of people and is passionate helping organizations build great teams. He volunteers countless hours mentoring and coaching entrepreneurs on hiring strategies. Kevin resides in Milwaukee with his wife and daughter. Outside of Hireology you can find him in an airport near you, on a Harley, or surfing on Lake Michigan. Kevin’s first car was a 1984 Dodge Aires.

Latest posts

  1. How to Improve Your Customer Experience with Better Employees — October 25, 2016
  2. The First 7 Days: Why Onboarding Millennials Is Critical to Employee Performance — August 25, 2016
  3. Four Fundamental Steps for Hiring Product Specialists at Your Dealership — July 26, 2016
  4. Does Your Dealership Value its Interview Process? — June 30, 2016
  5. Tech Enabled Dealerships Need Tech-Savvy Employees — April 28, 2016

Author's posts listings

Kevin Baumgart

How to Improve Your Customer Experience with Better Employees

Businessmen talking

You never want your dealership to become infamous for poor customer service. No company wants that sort of stain on their brand image. And in today’s always-on, always-connected society, it’s incredibly easy for poor customer experiences to go viral and impact both sales and your brand image.

Comcast has a well-documented history of infuriating customers. If you recall this internet phenomenon from 2014, there was an encounter between a customer who was trying to cancel internet service and a Comcast employee who worked tirelessly to convince him otherwise. The recording of the conversation is painful to hear. Even a company as customer-centric as Amazon has been drawn into the crossfire through a poor customer experience during a live chat session where the customer was called the wrong name and gender throughout the encounter.

Needless to say, the internet is an unforgiving place in many respects when it comes to showcasing poor customer experiences. What’s more, a clear takeaway from each of these examples is that the individual employees have a significant role in shaping these experiences and perceptions as a whole.

With better employees, you’re able to make substantial progress towards creating a dealership culture and operational standard that consistently provides exceptional customer experiences.

How To Get Started with A Hiring Strategy

According to an article for Harvard Business Review, companies that effectively manage the entire customer experience see improved customer and employee satisfaction, stronger loyalty and higher revenue. From a hiring perspective, you need to implement a standardized process to select better quality employees who will provide your customers with a higher quality experiences.

Improving customer experiences doesn’t happen by addressing a single interaction with a customer—it involves everyone in your dealership. It’s truly a cultural shift, and one that needs to be reflected in the attitudes and core competencies of each and every employee.

With that in mind, here are a few qualities that you should look for in each candidate:

  • Listening abilities – In a customer service position, being able to focus your attention exclusively on the customer sometimes feels like a lost art—and like assessing artwork, trying to be objective about a person’s listening skills can be tricky when you’re not given the right tools. This is the type of soft skill that will likely present itself during a phone or in-person interview with job candidates. Take this opportunity to measure the accuracy of their responses to pointed questions, whether they talk over the interviewer and if their body language indicates they’re paying attention to you.
  • Empathy – Like listening skills, empathy is pretty difficult to judge unless you see a candidate in action. However, pre-screening tests and assessments can provide insight into whether a candidate will respond to a hypothetical situation in the right way. At the same time, you can ask open-ended questions that allow you to see whether the candidate exhibits empathy in response to a customer’s issues.
  • Technology literacy – While a great deal of customer experience management comes down to face-to-face human interaction and people skills, you need staff that understands how to get things done from a technical perspective. The kindest, most accommodating person in the world will still rub a car buyer the wrong way if he or she can’t point out specifications or talk about key vehicle features such as infotainment or Bluetooth connectivity with customers. Skills assessment tests are ideal for this sort of situation, providing you with an objective metric by which to score job candidates.

Understand Your Customers

At the foundation of your shift toward providing exceptional customer experiences is knowing your customer through and through. According to the annual J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, the number one thing new-car buyers look for when they’re selecting a specific model is reliability and durability. So, if your sales team member immediately starts off by how cool the customer will look in the vehicle, they may be getting off on the wrong foot—or, at least, isn’t addressing the customer’s priorities.

You need employees who have the listening skills, attitude and know-how to get to the bottom of what your customers want from the get-go. That means smarter hiring. Dealers with a process-driven approach are much more likely to find and hire quality candidates. In fact, 70% of our auto customer’s new employees hired through Hireology are rated as high-quality hires.

Take a data-driven approach to hiring that leverages skills assessments, pre-screening tools and interview checklists that help you objectively evaluate candidates.

Thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing the guidance on employee referral programs. Learn more about Hireology. And join NCM’s experts for more actionable advice for hiring the best people for your team in our Finding Top Talent and Success-Driven Pay Plan classes.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/10/how-to-improve-your-customer-experience-with-better-employees/

Kevin Baumgart

The First 7 Days: Why Onboarding Millennials Is Critical to Employee Performance

Coffee Girl

With each passing day, dealerships have to reconcile the fact that they will need to hire an increasing number of Millennials. What does this mean exactly? Like any normal demographic shift, older Americans are retiring and younger generations are filling their positions.

The big differentiator between now and previous generations is that the incoming group is such a huge segment of the population. According to Pew Research, Millennials – those between 18 and 34 – now number more than 75 million in the U.S., pushing them past the next largest group: the Baby Boomers.

What Does the Millennial Shift Mean for Dealerships?

This is meaningful for your dealership for a number of reasons. First of all, Millennials are in the middle of a job-hopping trend that has been growing increasingly pronounced over the past decade. For example, research from LinkedIn found professionals who graduated between 1986 and 1990 average 1.6 jobs during their first five years in the labor market. Workers who graduated between 2006 and 2010 have an average of 2.85 jobs during the same timeframe.

On top of that, Millennials are pretty stark in their self-assessments of their level of preparedness for the workforce. Bentley University released a study that revealed Millennials give themselves a grade of C or lower on being prepared for their first jobs.

When you consider the ramifications of these trends, you have the chance to recognize the importance of an onboarding program that keeps employees engaged and less inclined to look for work elsewhere.

Make Onboarding a Competitive Advantage

Building a dealership with the right talent will extend into the overall positive performance of the business. Employee onboarding is a fundamental aspect of the overall engagement framework of a top-performing business. With Millennials taking up a growing segment of the overall talent pool, keeping new hires engaged early on is even more important.

Strictly concerning financial performance, having a formal employee engagement program can make all the difference. A recent report from Aberdeen Research found that companies that have programs aimed at building employee loyalty achieve a 15.5 percent year-over-year increase in annual revenue – compared to 12.3 percent for all other organizations (Link to PDF report).

Meanwhile, these top-performing organizations also generate higher annual revenues from customer referrals, and more of their sales team members achieve their annual quotas compared to companies that don’t have an employee engagement strategy.

How Are Companies Creating Impactful Onboarding Programs?

Consider the first week of a new employee’s time on the job. At the end of the first seven days, do they:

  • Have a clear sense of their role within your dealership?
  • Understand your organization’s culture and expectations?
  • Feel as though they are socially integrated?
  • Have confidence in their abilities to fulfill their responsibilities?
  • See a direction forward as they continue along their career path?

These questions can help you get started understanding whether your dealership has an effective onboarding program.

Here are a few tips to ensure you’re keeping Millennials engaged from the very start.

1. Limit Traditional Learning Strategies

It’s important to remember that onboarding is not the same as training. There are certain aspects that will cross over, but, in large part, your onboarding program should be squarely focused on integrating new hires into your dealership. Certainly, you should be taking the time to introduce company policies, benefits and other fundamental information for each new employee. However, your onboarding program should get Millennials out from behind a desk and next to a mentor within your dealership who they can shadow. This will enable them to get hands-on experience and information about the processes and practices that go on during a regular day.

2. Begin Employee Recognition Early

From the very beginning, your dealership should work on integrating ways to help Millennials feel that they’re making significant progress—and you have made the effort to recognize them for it. A recent article for the Society for Human Resource Management found there’s a growing trend among organizations to invest in social recognition tools. A simple “thank you” goes a long way with respect to encouraging engagement among new hires, especially when you’re using social platforms that enable a millennial workforce to do so quickly and conveniently.

3. Customize Their Experiences

Whether or not it’s a positive attribute, Millennials are known for their love of personalization. From their Spotify playlists to their Starbucks orders, customization is a central component of their daily lives. They expect this to transition to the professional world. For instance, it’s common for new staff members to get introductory materials, clothing and other items during their first few days on the job. By adding their name or including references to topics or trends they enjoy, you increase the likelihood that your new hires will have a positive outlook and impression of your dealership.

By understanding how Millennials approach their professional lives and careers, you put your dealership in a better position to create an effective onboarding program that will make your business more productive.

Remember that this generation is less loyal to their employers than previous ones, meaning your onboarding strategy is even more likely tied to the long-term success of your business than you may have originally thought.

Special thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing their insights on onboarding process. Learn more about Hireology. And join NCM’s experts for more actionable guidance for hiring the best people for your team in our Finding Top Talent and Success-Driven Pay Plan classes.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/08/the-first-7-days-why-onboarding-millennials-is-critical-to-employee-performance/

Kevin Baumgart

Four Fundamental Steps for Hiring Product Specialists at Your Dealership

car salesman talking to young woman inside showroom

Our automotive customers have shared that employing product specialists helps improve customer experience and loyalty, while simultaneously lowering employee turnover. When executed well, everyone is better off—the dealership, from improved customer satisfaction; the new employee, with a clearly defined career path; and the customer, who drives off your lot happy and ready to refer their friends.

Why do you need this position? Today’s consumers are more informed than ever, and the traditional sales approach isn’t working like it used to. Customers don’t want a sales pitch when they come to the dealership—they’d rather leverage their own research to speed up the buying process and purchase their new vehicle as quickly as possible.

Traditional salespeople and this new breed of product specialists are not cut from the same cloth. This new group of jobseekers is harder to recruit and retain, forcing you to bring your recruiting A-game.

Step 1 – Learn what makes great product specialists

Based on data from Hireology’s Talent Coaches—our team who works with dealerships to help them recruit and hire great resources—there are several key factors to look for when hiring a product specialist:

  • New to the industry: You want your employees to be molded by your system, not bringing bad habits into your dealership.
  • Ability to be a sponge: If they know nothing about the car business, then they must be prepared to absorb information and put it to immediate use.
  • Comfort with technology: New specialists should have the ability to learn the multitude of vehicle features and convey them to the customer in a digestible manner.
  • Puts customer needs first: Successful product specialists do what it takes to make the customer happy and find the car that’s right for them.

When we look outside the auto industry for product specialists, we create a near-limitless supply of job seekers. As long as a candidate has the fundamental building blocks for success, he or she could be the exact employee you’ve been seeking.

Step 2 – Discover the best candidates

Dealership executives must know how to find and recruit preferred talent when it comes to building a team of product specialists—which means sourcing your candidates. You need proactively to determine where you want to locate top talent. Think about using job boards such as Indeed.com, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Snagajob so you can source candidates from the world’s best job sites.

Hireology’s Talent Coaches also recommend attending college career fairs and to build a strong social media presence for your dealership. Include on your dealership’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter pages such information as company culture, career opportunities and employee reviews. This helps ensure your dealership remains present within this ever-growing channel for job seekers.

Keep in mind that it’s important to have all your employees share this information and motivate them to want to share it. Otherwise, your social media efforts will seem forced or manufactured.

Here’s our breakdown for candidate discovery:

  • Publish jobs to the most effective job boards
  • Share positions using your social media accounts
  • Transform your website into a customizable job site
  • Use mobile-friendly job applications
  • Apply candidate pre-screening surveys
  • Create an employee referral program

Step 3 – Attract the right talent

There are two critical factors for attracting qualified candidates to fulfill your product specialist roles—the job post (which includes a job description) and the career site.

Most young job seekers aren’t actively considering traditional auto sales as a career option, so highlight the fact that you’re hiring for a product specialist position to drive more interest in the millennial market. Let job seekers know this fundamental difference in the job description and post.

Here’s an example format to follow when creating a Product Specialist job description:

Job Title: Product Specialist

Company: Jon Doe Automotive

DEALERSHIP AND ROLE: Be sure you tell applicants why your dealership is a great place to work and why this is a fantastic role within the company. Describe these vital details in a paragraph or two before you mention the benefits, responsibilities and qualifications.  This step is critical to developing their interest and drawing them in to apply.

BENEFITS: Add any benefits that your dealership may offer for employees, such as 401K, medical and dental insurance, paid time off and other perks.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Have bullet points listing all essential daily tasks, duties and any other obligations that are needed to be a top-performing product specialist at your dealership.

QUALIFICATIONS: List all things that require a product specialist to thrive to at the job, such as ideal personalities, skill sets and anything else you would consider needed in a qualified dealership employee.

Click here to get Hireology’s sample product specialist job description that will drive applicants.

Take advantage of a career site:

Updating the dealership career site is indispensable when attracting today’s product specialist job seekers. Design, word choice and other essentials play a major role in attracting applicants and top talent. Don’t let a non-existent or old careers page slowly fading on your website get in the way of finding great product specialists. Be sure you’re utilizing a streamlined career site so you can attract quality talent to your dealership. 

Step 4—Interview (twice), Verify and Hire

After you build your talent pool with a number of candidates, it’s time to interview your top choices for your product specialist positions. Starting this process with a phone interview is the best way to weed out the best candidates from the other applicants. From there, it’s highly recommended to conduct in-person interviews with the preferred candidates so you can get a better feel of who these people are and whether or not they might be qualified to work at your dealership. Lastly, before you make your hiring decisions, it’s always best practice to verify your candidates via background and reference checks.

Here are some tips on each phase of the process, so you can make sure you’re hiring qualified employees:

The Phone Screen—To get a better sense of who the applicant is, make sure you ask about his or her careers plans, their generals likes and dislikes, and their job history. Finish up the call by providing any information you have about your open product specialist role. Phone screens are an excellent way to save time by weeding out less qualified candidates and focusing on in-person interviewing only those that are qualified.

The Face-to-face Interview—These interview questions are different compared to the phone screen. Use this time when to learn more about the candidate and measure his or her work behaviors and personality. Skill assessment tests are the best way to gauge fully how qualified a candidate is for the job and are highly recommended.

Verification—The last step of any good interview process contains background and reference checks. There are easy ways to complete these processes without having to spend extra time on your end; be sure to do your due diligence when researching preferred vendors.

Wrapping Up: Product Specialists are the Future

The sales team structure at dealerships is changing. More dealerships are finding success with product specialists: their recruiting efforts are improving, their customer satisfaction is improving and their overall business is on the right path for thriving in today’s market.

Don’t let your dealership fall behind your competition when hiring new sales employees, especially on the product specialist end. It’s time to start employing product specialists so you can improve customer experience and loyalty, as well as achieve the hard-to-reach goal for every dealership—lower turnover.

Special thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing the results of their study. Learn more about Hireology.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/07/four-fundamental-steps-for-hiring-product-specialists-at-your-dealership/

Kevin Baumgart

Does Your Dealership Value its Interview Process?

Businessmen talking

By the time a candidate reaches the interview stage, it’s clear they have grabbed your attention as a potential hire for your dealership. The interview process is an irreplaceable component of your dealership’s overall hiring strategy. It’s also the point at which both the employer and job seeker determine if it’s worth their time to move forward with the process.

What’s at Stake for Employers?

Taking the time to speak with a candidate in person is critical to determine if someone is a good fit for the role. It’s also an integral part in persuading top talent to work for your dealership.

Research from LinkedIn found that 87 percent of job seekers said a great interview experience would make them reconsider a job offer even if they have initial doubts. In a competitive job market, this can make the difference between hiring an all-star and a dud.

Conversely, 83 percent of candidates say a negative encounter during an interview will erode their interest in a position. Getting the interview process down to a science begins far in advance of the in-person visit.

Employer Due Diligence

You will want to use the early stages of the hiring process to get as much information about the applicant as possible to ensure you’re making the right decision by inviting them in for an interview. Hiring technology has come a long way in enabling auto dealers to evaluate job seekers before they ever step foot in the dealership.

Employers should take advantage of tools that test hard skills, soft skills, culture fit and aptitude. Based on the results of these evaluations, you’re able to better gauge whether they meet—or even exceed—the requirements established in your job description. This adds insight that employers can use in conjunction with resumes and applications to make informed judgments about applicants and if they should bring them in for an interview. Once you’ve completed these critical steps, you need to make sure you are prepared to meet the candidate in-person.

How to Prepare for the Interview

No detail is too small as you prepare for the interview. Consider what type of impression you’ll leave after you’ve invited a candidate to talk about a specific position and you forget their name, the job they applied for or refer to past work experiences belonging to another applicant. This is the candidate’s first impression of what it would be like to work at your dealership, it’s important to get it right.

You should also have your interview questions prepared in advance and in front of you when you sit down for the interview. Be sure to have questions that will help you effectively identify whether the candidate can perform all necessary tasks defined in the job description. Addressing your priorities upfront and asking questions about measurable criteria will help you determine their ability to do well in the role.

At the end of an interview is a great time to allow candidates to ask questions and helps set expectations for the candidate and the interviewer. If you are prepared for this exchange in advance, it is easier to sell top talent not just on the role, but also on your dealership as a place to work. As much as the employer is judging the candidate, the potential new hire is also forming opinions about working for the dealership, and a great impression will win over all-star candidates.

An Extensive Process

The interview is the singular component in hiring that carries the most weight for both the employer and candidate. It’s crucial that you have a rock-solid process in place—built on strong intel about each applicant—that will make the encounter productive and illuminating for all parties involved.

Special thanks to NCM Associates’ partner, Hireology, for sharing their insights on the interview process. Learn more about Hireology. And join NCM’s experts for more actionable guidance for hiring the best people for your team in our Finding Top Talent and Success-Driven Pay Plan classes.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/06/does-your-dealership-value-its-interview-process/

Kevin Baumgart

Tech Enabled Dealerships Need Tech-Savvy Employees

Young Woman on Phone

What do Millennials and technology mean for the future of your auto dealership? The truth of the matter is that you’re going to need both if you want to remain competitive in today’s industry.

The Impact of Technology on Auto Dealerships

One of the biggest changes that is forcing dealerships to shift the way they sell cars is customer behavior. According to an article from Fortune magazine, customers now make fewer than two visits (1.9 to be exact) to a dealership before making a purchase.

Online shopping is the main culprit. Because of the free flow of information on the Web, car buyers are more inclined to research their auto purchases at home or on the go using their computers and mobile devices. They’re no longer so dependent on salespeople for information about specific cars. As a result, some auto dealerships are equipping their sales team with greater technology, like tablets, to facilitate customer interactions and close deals in the showroom.

Unfortunately, you can’t just arm your sales team with tablets and expect them to be effective at selling in a new way. This is a significant shift, and your employee base has to be comfortable with approaching the customer and engaging them with a piece of technology. Most Dealers are targeting Millennials to work on the sales floor for this reason alone.

There are many benefits to having technology on the floor accompanied by tech-savvy employees:

  • It gives the sales team instant access to information when customers have questions to which they may not know the immediate answer
  • It initiates the sale on the floor instead of having to wait until customers are in the back office
  • It helps build early credibility and trust if your customer sees the employee as a reliable source
  • It will improve the level of professionalism and drive positive impressions of the store

Providing a mix of access to this type of technology and tech-savvy employees is one way that auto dealerships can remain competitive.

Millennials are a Perfect Fit for Technology Enabled Dealerships

While the common stereotype you see of Millennials is a group of people who constantly have their smartphones at the ready or are scrolling through their preferred social media feeds, this generation is exceptionally adept at technology. They were born into an era of innovation that made digital technology one of the primary ways people experience the world.

As a result, the generation has been groomed to reach for technology—mobile devices in particular—when searching for the answers to questions. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, Millennials are highly collaborative and make research-driven decisions.

What’s more, according to a recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 78 percent of Millennials believe that access to technology makes them more effective in their roles at work (Link to the study; pdf warning.) Thus, the technology your auto dealership implements is a major contributing factor when Millennials are considering employers. In fact, 6 in 10 Millennials say the quality of technology a business has was important during recruitment.

However, it’s increasingly likely that Millennials will utilize their personal technology if the tools they have in the workplace limit them. Meanwhile, employers are also creating or updating their IT policies to adapt to Millennials’ technology needs—for instance, providing smartphones as an employee benefit.

Technology and Millennials go hand in hand, especially at your dealership. Whether it’s informed consumers arriving at your dealership with buying research saved on their smart devices or tech-savvy employees who understand your customers, technology surrounds this generation and is paramount to delivering a positive buying experience.

What steps have you taken to attract Millennials to your dealership? Have they worked?

Special thanks to our partners at Hireology for their insights on recruiting Millennials for the automotive workplace.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/04/tech-enabled-dealerships-need-tech-savvy-employees/