As part of the Best Auto Auctions to Work For program, which is presented by CARS Recon, Auto Remarketing is provided with a wealth of data from the Best Companies Group, which manages the study and analyzes the data.
Among the information provided by BCG is employee response benchmark data across eight categories and multiple employee survey data points within each category.
This series of stories will take a look at some of those survey data points, while also including the perspective from several managers at auctions/auction companies who were among the 2019 Best Auto Auctions to Work For.
Next up in the series: hiring, and then training, the workforce talent.
Finding the talent
Having a successful auction workplace environment requires team members, obviously.
Eighty percent of responses from recognized auctions said, “Staffing levels are adequate to provide quality products/services.”
When it comes to finding new team members at an auction, sometimes the best candidate might be that server at a local restaurant, for example, whose customer service or work ethic leaves a positive impression.
At Greenville Auto Auction in North Carolina, one of this year's honorees, general manager Billy Willis said they have, “really come to the conclusion that it’s not about the job description that we have; it’s about the person joining the team.”
So, new hires might not always come through the traditional channel of job postings and applications.
“So typically, we’ve hired waitresses that have waited on our team. A lot of it has been word-of- mouth where another team member said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this lady or this gentleman over here looking for a job.’ And we’ll usually sit down with them or even meet them at a local restaurant, and have never met them before, and just chat it up with them for a while, get to know them a little bit. And then we try to find a position that fits them.
“But really, finding the person that fits the auction is No. 1, and then training them to do the job,” Willis said. “Because I feel wholeheartedly, you can have the best mechanic, but if he doesn’t fit your team, he will never be the best mechanic.”
Recruiting has been a major priority at Best Auto Auctions honoree ACV Auctions, an online auction company that has grown from being a small startup to having nearly 1,000 employees in just a few years.
Chief sales officer Mike Waterman said the company makes a “big investment” in recruiting and has a large, strong recruiting team that does an “excellent job.”
But it goes beyond that.
An idea shared by ACV chief executive George Chamoun is the approach of spending 30% of your time recruiting. It could be folks that you meet out in the field who could end up being a “great teammate,” Waterman said.
And in an industry where travel can be constant, that lends itself to meeting all kinds of potential candidates, he said.
ACV is headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y., but based on its online, national model, it needs team members across the country. But that doesn’t always mean keeping a set game plan as to which market to expand to next.
“The talent took us to some of these places to be quite honest,” Waterman said. “When we met someone or had come into contact with somebody that we thought was really exceptional, but maybe we hadn’t planned to go to that area just yet, we went, because we knew how valuable that talent is.
“And maybe we just move that area ahead of a couple of others, because we didn’t want to lose out on that person.”
Training the team
Of course, once those hires are made, training is vital, be it onboarding or ongoing.
According to the Employee Benchmark Report data, 83% of responses from employees from auctions making the list affirmed that their employer “provided as much initial training as I needed,” and 85% said their employer “provides as much ongoing training as I need.”
“If you’re new to our organization, you will be onboarded with the help of our HR business partners, and then of course your manager or supervisor,” said Dana Lowenthal, general manager at Manheim Central Florida, one of this year's honorees.
New employees go through video training immediately, she said, and also undergo Safe T. Sam and Smith System driving training as part of initial onboarding into a Manheim auction location.
While some of the training is video-based, much of it is on-the-job, she said. And it brings an opportunity for existing team members, as well.
“So, if you’re a new employee, you’re probably going to get partnered with somebody who’s been there. And the reason we’re partnering you with that particular person is because they excel at what they do. And we recognize leadership in them. So, we use that as an opportunity for our existing team members to help grow them as well,” Lowenthal said.
“If you’re an existing team member and you would like to be a supervisor or manager at some point, we might give you a new team member to partner up with to help you refine and grow your leadership skills (by) having to bring somebody on board, explain the business, the purpose in what they’re doing and help them to familiarize themselves with the systems and processes that we have in place,” she said. “So it actually benefits both at the time.
“If you are an employee or a team member that has been with us for some period of time, and you want to grow in your career, whether it’s inside your team or outside your team, our leadership is really, really, cognizant, because we check in with our employees on a regular basis.”
Speaking of growth and advancement, 80% of responses from employees at auctions making this list said, “There is room for me to advance at this organization,” with 80% saying there were “encouraged to explore growth or advancement opportunities within the organization.”
In terms of ongoing training of employees, Willis said at Greenville Auto Auction he looks to the overall industry to see what opportunities are available for team members at the auction, giving the example of the National Auto Auction Association’s Safety Summit and other events.
But Willis also looks beyond the auction industry for opportunities that can help his team “grow their professional life.”
At ACV, part of the ongoing training involves “ride-alongs,” which are exactly what they sound like, Waterman said.
Team members who work internally at the Buffalo headquarters will literally ride along with their colleagues in the field to get a sense of what their days are like. And vice versa.
“We’ve sent our field teams into Buffalo. Part of our training is, they actually sit in those seats that will be answering those phone calls when they have a customer that needs help, needs attention,” Waterman said. “And it’s really helped everybody better understand what their roles are and how important they are to each other.”
At IAA, which had four of its locations make the list this year, the company employs a widespread and ongoing approach; there’s a “continuous improvement team,” an electronic training library for onboarding training and on-field training teams.
“So if you’re needing some broader (training) — maybe it’s a new process, maybe it’s a new engagement with the customer, it’s something we’d do different within the auction lanes — we bring out field personnel, and then we bring in, again, the process improvement teams to really look at how we make those processes (better),” said Scott Guenther, who is senior vice president of U.S. branch operations at IAA.
Training is paramount and not just for new employees.
Guenther said, “You cannot just rely on somebody being trained once and being done the right way. We have to make sure we do that and that it’s done for you pretty regularly.”
Part I of this series covered safety and communication at auto auctions.
For more on the 2019 Best Auto Auctions to Work For, see the the Nov. 1 edition of Auto Remarketing.
Honorees will also be recognized during a Nov. 14 breakfast during the National Remarketing Conference segment of Used Car Week, which is being held Nov. 11-15 at Red Rock in Las Vegas.