The Value of Human Resources in a Car Dealership
Let’s face it, working in a car dealership environment is different than working in any other corporate environment. We are not the 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday types, and we are definitely not fans of the administrative duties that come as the boring side of any job. We are salespeople, sales managers, and customer service representatives at our cores. We spend minimal time on reports, analysis, legalities, and PowerPoint presentations. The extent of sitting in cubicles is the time we invest (or are forced – depends on your point of view) in making telephone calls prospecting for business. We leave the matters of “business” – the accounting, analysis, legal issues, and other behind-the-scenes administrative “stuff” we have no interest in doing – to our office staff of Accounts Receivables, Payables, DMV, and Office Manager/Comptroller – all clerks. Some of the larger dealerships, or dealership groups may have additional clerical positions, including someone whom entirely focuses on activities related to Human Resources (alternatively, HR), but what exactly is human resources, and what does it mean in a car dealership environment?
As defined by BusinessDictionary.com, Human Resources is “The division of a company that is focused on activities relating to employees. These activities normally include recruiting and hiring of new employees, orientation and training of current employees, employee benefits, and retention. Formerly called personnel.” (Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/human-resources.html). An article from Smart Business Network in February, 2014 mentions “There are so many different laws being passed at the state and federal level that it can be a challenge for any HR team to keep up.” (Read more: http://www.sbnonline.com/article/why-it-makes-business-sense-to-let-a-third-party-handle-hr-functions/)
In our world, most of the tasks from this definition are handled by Sales Managers – and once again, how many of us Sales Managers actually ENJOY spending time on these activities? Our office representatives are usually the people who handle the “orientation” – sitting our new hires in front of a computer and/or a stack of legal documents for viewing and signature – and the employee benefits. More often than not, our new hires are brought on with the most informal of processes, barely a tour of the dealership, and slapped on the back, with a “Go Get ‘Em, Tiger!” The ugly aspects of Human Resources, such as complaints, benefits questions, and stuff not covered by the other roles in the office usually fall on someone who wears an HR hat in addition to their primary role – and usually, as there are significant ramifications, the person who gets this extra hat is the office manager.
Human Resources is an industry all it’s own. New laws and policies come up daily from the county, state, and Feds requiring management to update and ensure compliance. Most dealerships lack a compliance officer (a conversation for another blog entry), but reasonable argument could be made that a compliance officer would be the best for the role of Human Resources Manager. True professionals in the HR industry have studied, certified, and participate in continuing education to ensure they are up-to-date on all the changes which affect employing people. In addition to the onboarding and benefits, we associate human resources with sexual harassment issues – and though that is an extreme of a people issue, it is an issue that needs to be handled correctly – and should be handled by a neutral party – just the same. Just like you would not want the nurse at a clinic to handle an appendectomy, do you really want your human resources handled by someone who can barely stay on top of all the rest of the action in the dealership office, or a clerk handling a potential sexual harassment snowball?
An office manager or accounting clerk with supplemental HR duties is NOT the best solution for a dealership. A sales manager is not knowledgeable enough in the legalities surrounding Human Resources to be an appropriate solution. A TRUE Human Resources representative is supposed to be a neutral entity to help solve people issues – especially when people are uncomfortable to bring those issues to their supervisors. As previously stated, a Compliance Officer would be the most appropriate representative, as long as their direct supervisor was outside of the dealership management so they could be a true neutral entity. At worst, a dealership should consider outsourcing HR – making sure every employee has access to the help they may need when they need it.
The truth is, we don’t give a lot of thought to what constitutes a human resources issue, but often what happens in the dealership is that an issue comes up, and we think…keyword: THINK it gets handled. How often have you lost good employees within a few months of an issue that you thought was no big deal? A true HR professional could have helped to better mitigate the situation, preventing a bad outcome, without creating a liability issue to be concerned with later.
Logging into your KPA account does not constitute HR coverage in the dealership!
No one wants to think about the negatives of HR, but if you are ready to have a conversation about the value of having someone in the dealership who is dedicated to your human issues and preventing them from snowballing into bigger issues, contact The Dealer Quarterback at 310-428-3362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.