Tire dealers and service shop operators should actively encourage employees to refer potential new hires to them.
What's more, they should formalize a referral program of some kind.
Too often, it seems, owners and managers I encounter in my travels don't appreciate the potential value of a referral plan. Rather, they're committed to traditional advertisements in newspapers and such.
There is no perfect, fault-free worker recruitment plan or procedure. I bet that at some point in their careers, most Tire Business readers have watched in disbelief as a seemingly “can't-miss” new hire bombed out.
However, dozens of conversations with owners and managers over the years have reinforced the impression that workers referred by existing employees usually become successful hires. They've emphasized several basic reasons why the winning hires far outnumber the failing ones.
The first reason is fair, firsthand knowledge of the prospective hire. Suppose, for example, that one of your techs worked side by side with this potential new worker at another dealership for six months. Although that may sound like a relatively short exposure, it seems like a lifetime on the shop floor. In those six months, for instance, your tech spent more time alongside this potential new hire than he or she likely spent with his or her own family.
What's more, your tech had more opportunity to evaluate this other tech's personality, integrity and work ethic than the service manager at that dealership. For example, one tech usually notices when another tech cuts corners, does foolish or dangerous things, cheats the boss or the customer, etc.
Suppose your tech is a regular “Joe.” He may not have wanted to cause any confrontations over a shady co-worker at another job. But given the opportunity to influence the possible hire of an untrustworthy person, you can bet that Joe will tell what he's observed of this person.
The second reason is that trust and respect are not only earned, they are earned via personal interaction with another person. Firsthand experience and personal interaction are invaluable ways to evaluate another person. If your worker had not developed respect and trust for someone firsthand, it's extremely doubtful that your tech would refer that person to you.
Third, suppose your worker is a decent, competent employee. If so, then he or she has some degree of pride and self esteem. They wouldn't want a referral to reflect negatively on them in any way. Pride prompts most people to make referrals they believe are solid ones.
Fourth, besides self-esteem, people usually have several very selfish reasons for referring a competent, trustworthy person to you. Here, trust and respect come to the fore again. Given the choice of working with a familiar or an unfamiliar person, workers usually prefer the proverbial “known quantity.” Self-interest spurs workers to refer potential hires to you who are within their personal and professional comfort zone.
What's more, the workplace is already stressful. Workers have repeatedly told me that working with familiar, trusted people reduces overall stress at their jobs.
So, capitalize on these factors by creating an incentive program for referred workers. Perhaps pay your employee a bonus if the new hire passes a 30-day probationary period. Maybe pay a larger bonus if and when the new worker reaches one year of employment.
Remember that such a referral program helps keep workers involved in the health of the business. As I've said in previous columns, involvement is essential to boosting employee loyalty.