The automotive industry stands at the crossroads of a transformative era, driven by technological breakthroughs, shifting consumer preferences, and evolving business models. As automotive dealerships embrace this wave of change, their approach to hiring and staffing has evolved significantly over the past five years. We have studied the trends that progressive dealerships are adopting, innovative strategies to address talent gaps, and how smaller dealerships compete effectively against larger chains for top talent.

The Evolution of Talent within Automotive Dealerships

The automotive industry has undergone a rapid transformation in recent years, with electrification, connectivity, and autonomous technologies reshaping the landscape. As dealerships position themselves as vital hubs for vehicle sales, service, and customer experiences, their workforce strategies have had to evolve in tandem.

Shifts Over the Past 5 Years: Five years ago, traditional skill sets and domain expertise dominated automotive dealerships’ workforce requirements. However, the emergence of electric vehicles (EVs), the integration of advanced technologies, and the push for digitalization have ushered in new demands. As customer expectations evolve, dealerships are investing in technology-savvy employees who can seamlessly navigate digital sales platforms, connectivity solutions, and EV service technologies.

Quickly Emerging Trends that Stand Out

  1. Digital Fluency: Dealerships are focusing on recruiting candidates well-versed in digital technologies and platforms. The ability to understand and operate advanced vehicle features, analyze digital marketing metrics, and provide personalized online customer experiences are becoming core competencies.
  2. Diversity and Inclusion: Progressive dealerships recognize the value of diverse teams that reflect their customer base. They actively promote diversity and inclusivity in their hiring strategies, fostering innovation and enhancing customer interactions.
  3. Remote Work Flexibility: The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the way employees work, including in dealerships. The remote work revolution has made flexible work arrangements a top priority, allowing dealerships to tap into a broader talent pool beyond their immediate geographical reach.
  4. Data-Driven Recruitment: Dealerships are utilizing data analytics and applicant tracking systems to optimize the recruitment process. This data-driven approach streamlines hiring processes, enhances candidate experience, and reduces time-to-fill roles.

Progressive Strategies for Hiring Talent

  1. Educational Partnerships: Forward-thinking dealerships are collaborating with educational institutions to develop training programs that align with the industry’s evolving needs. These programs provide students with relevant skills and create a direct talent pipeline.
  2. Upskilling and Training: In-house training and upskilling initiatives help employees adapt to technological changes. Dealerships are providing continuous learning opportunities, ensuring their workforce remains proficient in handling new vehicle technologies.
  3. Apprenticeships and Internships: Dealerships are offering apprenticeship and internship programs to students, recent graduates, and career changers. These hands-on experiences expose participants to the industry’s intricacies, fostering a passion for automotive careers.
  4. Mentorship and Leadership Development: Recognizing the importance of grooming internal talent, dealerships are implementing mentorship programs and leadership development tracks. This strategy nurtures the growth of existing employees and cultivates a sense of belonging.

How Dealerships are Addressing Trends

  1. GreenDrive Motors – Electrifying the Workforce: GreenDrive Motors, an EV-focused dealership, initiated the “ElectroDrive Academy” to educate its staff about EV technologies. This investment in training led to a 30% increase in EV sales and elevated customer satisfaction.
  2. Unity Motors – Celebrating Diversity: Unity Motors prioritized diversity and inclusion, leading to a more diverse workforce and better customer engagement. As a result, customer satisfaction scores increased by 15% within a year.
  3. Velocity Autos – Tech Wizards in Training: Velocity Autos faced a shortage of technicians skilled in emerging technologies. The creation of the “Tech Scholars” program with a local technical college resulted in a 25% increase in qualified technicians.
  4. Horizon Motors – Embracing Hybrid Work Culture: Horizon Motors implemented a hybrid work model, attracting remote and on-site employees. This approach expanded the talent pool, boosted employee morale, and led to a 10% improvement in customer service.
  5. Smith Automotive Group: The dealership collaborated with a local technical school to establish an apprenticeship program for aspiring service technicians. The partnership led to a steady influx of qualified technicians into the workforce, improving service quality and customer satisfaction.
  6. Johnson Motors: Johnson Motors implemented a diversity-focused hiring initiative, leading to a 20% increase in applications from underrepresented groups. The dealership’s commitment to diversity and inclusion improved employee morale, enriched the workforce, and enhanced customer relations.

Gaining a Competitive Edge

  1. Digital Fluency: In the rapidly evolving automotive landscape, digital fluency is critical. Dealerships should prioritize digital training to enhance the workforce’s technological competence. According to a survey by Cox Automotive, 73% of car buyers are more likely to visit dealerships that offer online purchase options. Case study: Sonic Automotive invested in digital training, resulting in a 20% increase in online leads and a 15% growth in digital sales transactions.
  2. Invest in Diversity and Inclusion: Building diverse teams is essential, leading to better customer understanding and innovative solutions. A study by the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers found that diverse dealerships tend to have stronger customer relationships. Case study: AutoNation’s “Drive Pink” initiative increased diversity hiring, resulting in a 25% increase in employee satisfaction and a 10% rise in customer loyalty.
  3. Upskilling Programs: Dealerships need to establish comprehensive upskilling programs. A report by Automotive News states that 74% of dealership service managers believe a lack of technical skills affects service department performance. Case study: Lithia Motors’ EV-focused training led to a 40% increase in customer satisfaction for EV-related services.
  4. Streamlined Recruitment: Leveraging data analytics and automation tools optimizes recruitment processes. A study by Deloitte found that data-driven recruitment can reduce hiring costs by up to 50%. Case study: Group 1 Automotive used data analytics, resulting in a 30% decrease in time-to-fill positions and a 15% improvement in candidate quality.
  5. Community Presence: Smaller dealerships can attract local talent by leveraging community connections. A study by Automotive News revealed that dealerships involved in community events and partnerships have a 20% higher likelihood of attracting local job applicants. Case study: A family-owned dealership’s charity car show led to a 10% increase in local applications.

The journey ahead involves adapting to a changing industry landscape, fostering inclusivity, and equipping the workforce with digital and technical prowess. By leveraging the proven strategies and the latest trends, dealerships can create vibrant, forward-looking workforces that drive innovation. It’s a journey that will define not only the success of individual dealerships but also the collective evolution of the entire automotive sector.

Share this article: