Mar 24

Nurture, feedback and other keys to happy millennial employees

To attract and retain millennial F&I employees, dealers should give them flexible schedules, invest in their futures and increase communication with them, experts say.

Millennials want a personal life and a work life, says Pamela Ragan, human resources manager at Friendship Family of Dealerships in Bristol, Tenn. “We always say work hard, play hard,” she said. “We try to keep [the schedules] flexible.”

The young F&I staffer works the same number of hours as a typical F&I manager, but Friendship always has a backup plan if some want to take time off.

Renay Winston, president of People Management Solutions in Marietta, Ga., says millennials like becoming F&I managers because many have more control over their schedules than sales personnel and millennials are looking for positions that will allow them to control their own time.

Most of Friendship’s F&I staff is made up of millennials, Ragan said. But they started in the sales department. Technology comes easily to them, and “their minds are so open to learning and being taught our way,” Ragan said.

Gerry Gould, director of training at United Development Systems in Clearwater, Fla., says millennials bring a different perspective than older employees. “They’re real-world. Some of the older folks, [the dealership] is all they know. They understand the consumer more.”

The millennial guidebook
    • Promote work-life balance with flexible schedules
    • Help them identify the next steps in their career
    • Explain why things are done the way they’re done
    • Give them feedback on a regular basis

Attention, explanation

Many millennials in F&I positions work in sales for a few years. “The next step for them is F&I,” Winston said.

The hiring process attracts millennials because they know getting hired in F&I is difficult. Gould said they appreciate being considered for the job and embrace the opportunity to learn once they get it.

But once they’re hired, millennials expect an investment in their future.

“In order to keep them, you’ve got to realize their potential and help them move along in their career,” Gould said. “When they ask for something, you have to pay attention.”

Instead of just following orders, millennials seek details and openly wonder why operations are performed in a certain way, which is a mindset that works well with customers, Winston said. Customers “need that kind of explanation, too,” he said. When informed millennial employees speak with millennial customers, there is “a lot better communication in that process.”

‘Nurture them’

For millennials to desire a long tenure at the dealership, they need to understand how they are performing and why they were chosen for the position.

Friendship has small group meetings with new hires, where dealer Mitch Walters shares his vision for the company. Walters tells them that someone must have thought they were really special. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be sitting in that meeting.

Hearing that builds them up and gives them the drive to build a career at Friendship, rather than job hopping after a couple of years, Ragan said.

They will be fulfilled with their jobs if they know how they are performing and they have opportunities to ask questions.

“If [dealers] don’t provide them with that, [they] will shorten the amount of time they stay with [the] organization,” Winston said.

The auto industry “hasn’t shifted over to this type of feedback system, but it needs to be utilized if we continue to have millennials in our workplace,” he said. “We’re used to telling, not communicating back and forth.”

That feedback doesn’t have to be extensive, he said, but it needs to be consistent.

The best sources for learning what the dealership needs to do differently are employees, Winston said.

Millennials want to feel like part of the process, Gould adds.

“They build a relationship, and once that bond sticks, I think you got them,” Gould said. “You have to nurture them. They’ll stick to you. If they don’t feel the loyalty, they’re going to abandon you.”

Not so simple

Although a few guidelines are helpful, gaining and keeping millennial employees isn’t as simple as following a few steps, Winston said. Dealers should assess the entire organization and its processes to be successful.

With that and a careful hiring process, dealership positions will likely appeal to millennials.

“We hire very intelligent people. We feel we owe that to our employees,” Ragan said. “It only takes one bad person to spoil the mojo. If we have the best team out there, people are going to stay.”

Source: Nurture, feedback and other keys to happy millennial employees

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