By Bob Cooper
The importance of no-rehire policies for your auto repair shop…
Why should you consider implementing a no rehire policy for your auto repair shop? Most shop owners and dealerships are willing to rehire past employees who were good producers. When you listen, this is what they’ll typically say: “Now that Mike’s worked at another shop for a while, he knows just how good he had it here with us! So I know that if I hire him back, he’ll be a great, life-long employee!” Well, before you agree with that statement, maybe you should consider this: When you first bring someone aboard you should look for a number of things, yet none are more important than a mutual commitment to a long-lasting relationship. This commitment is good for both you and your employee.
Unfortunately, no matter how green the grass is at your shop, as we all know, the grass is often greener on the other side of the fence. So what happens when that superstar employee of yours comes to you and tells you that they’ve taken a job with another shop or dealership? In the eyes of the employee, if they have been a good producer for you they may very well feel that if things don’t work out at their new job, you’ll welcome them back with open arms. And why not? That’s what most shop owners ultimately do. So they shake hands, they wish one another the best, and the employee walks out the door.
Then a few months later that very same employee is knocking on the shop owner’s door, telling the owner that they realize they made a mistake, and they would love to be able to join the team again. This is when most shop owners make a mistake that is business 101. They immediately think of the tech or service advisor’s past productivity, and they foolishly tell themselves that if they bring the employee back into the fold, all the other employees will then realize just how good they have it. In reality, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. When you bring someone back into your company who left voluntarily, the message your employees are getting is that they can leave at anytime, with the peace of mind that you’ll always rehire them. That in itself is the wrong message to send to any employee.
When an employee knows, upfront, that they will be ineligible for rehire if they leave your company, it will motivate them to come forward and talk to you about the concerns they have. This in itself will give them pause when they think about leaving. You also need to consider that the price an employee pays for leaving is relatively low. If things don’t work out, they just roll their tool box back into your shop. Not the case with you as the business owner. You now have to burden the cost of finding and hiring the replacement employee, the cost of training that new hire, and the expense of business disruption, which is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
Lastly, if you do bring that employee back aboard, odds are they’ll leave again. The reason is pretty simple: over the years I have argued that the first thing that leaves is the heart, then the mind, and then the tool box. So if you didn’t resolve whatever it was that caused them to leave the first time, they’ll more than likely leave again. Now I need to be clear: There’s nothing wrong with anyone wanting to do better in life. That’s understandable. But as business owners, we need to think through our shop management policies. By allowing employees to leave and return, what we’re really doing is encouraging our employees to take our competitors for a “test-drive”, while at the same time we’re putting ourselves at risk.
So what will a no-rehire policy do for your auto repair shop? First of all, it will bring about a greater commitment, and team spirit, from all your employees. Secondly, it will force your people to really think through any decision they make about possibly leaving your company, as appropriate with any big decision. That in itself is priceless, because it will help prevent your people from making quick, emotional decisions that more often than not turn out to be the wrong decisions. And finally, it will cause your people to be open, and discuss their concerns with you, rather than trying to run from the very same issues that may confront them at their next place of employment.
Are there exceptions to a no-rehire rule? Of course. If someone has to move out of town due to a family issue, if they are forced into a career change due to medical issues, or if they leave you for any other reason that is legitimately out of their control, then they should be eligible for rehire. If you implement a no-rehire policy, you may also want to consider having a period of time on the policy. As an example, they would not be eligible for rehire for a three year period.
Many Elite coaching clients have also found that when they’re going through an exit process with an employee, many of them change their minds and decide to stay on board when they realize the shop has a no-rehire policy. By the way … in regard to that really good producer that came to you looking to get their job back? When the rest of your team hears that they knocked on your door and they were turned away, it will make those people even more appreciative of the position they have with you and your company.
So, I guess good business relationships are no different than good marriages. They require genuine commitments up front, continual communication, an understanding that there will be both good and bad times, and a willingness … to make it work.
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