5 Ways to Perfect Your Store Onboarding Process
One of the best ways to grow a store goes through an onboarding process that sets up a new hire for success. Employees cannot be effective assets if they don’t know exactly what to do and how to do it.
Confident employees take ownership of their new roles. With clarity, new hires can meet and exceed your expectations because they will have a sense of what success looks like.
“In many cases, a shop foreman should spend at least two working days getting onboarded,” says David Askwith, operations manager for AutoStream Car Care in Maryland. “It’s important to show new hires to see the shop layout, introduce them to the team, show them the test drive and ensure they have a path to success.”
AutoStream Car Care has eight locations in Maryland, with 70 employees. Their average car count is 1,500 per month, with an average store size of 1,500 to 7,500 square feet. AutoStream Car Care’s revenue is $12.5 million per year.
Here are five ways to perfect your store onboarding process and set up new hires for success.
1. Streamline Employee Orientation
Creating a smooth employee orientation process is essential. This is a new employee’s first exposure to your store – what they experience will affect their time as an employee.
Automation can help. You can create a series of videos in a company portal that trains the new employee on various aspects of their job before they set foot on the shop floor. You can automate some aspects of paperwork and save time.
“We have a system and upload all of our training materials and videos to software called Trainual. We make it clear what our expectations are and allow new hires to get certified,” says Askwith.
The way you train new hires needs to be updated and adapted to changes in your store. Askwith notes that who trains a new recruit is critical to ensuring success. He recommends that one or a few key people train new recruits.
“We try to have every new hire trained at each of our locations to get a sense of how we do things. We like to touch base in every part of the process and make sure new hires know they have support,” says Askwith.
2. Develop clear HR documents
New hires need access to materials that allow them to read and gain insight into your store’s processes. They will have questions about their new work environment and how to handle sensitive topics.
“Store owners should have an employee handbook that covers all common questions and processes,” says Tony Whatley, owner of 365 Drivenand co-founder of LS1Techan online automotive performance community, which has sold for millions.
Whatley notes that your material should cover:
- Expectations regarding the start and end times of the working day
- What are the public holidays
- How to request a vacation
- Dress code
- Work area cleanliness and ordering expectations
- Organization chart—with contact details
- Emergency procedures and contacts
- How raises or bonuses are calculated or earned
- Payroll and payment schedule
- Skills, education and certification requirements
- Discipline and corrective action process
- Communication process
- Telephone, smoking, controlled substances, alcohol, break policies
- Information on benefits and medical policy
Again, automation can help distribute and make your HR materials easily accessible to new hires (and all employees).
3. Have defined work areas
As humans, we appreciate having our own space. You may own the store, but the goal is for new hires to embrace their new role – having their own space can help.
“Each tech should have a designated work area with room to complete tasks,” Whatley explains. “Don’t force the new person to clean up the mess left behind by the last one. Welcome new hires by providing them with a fresh, ready-to-use workspace.”
When guiding the new employee through your store, explain who is doing what and where. You can hold regular team meetings to ensure that employees are familiar with their area of work and allow any concerns to be raised.
4. Schedule time for employee socialization
Culture and community are fundamental ways to ensure that every new hire feels connected to your store. Socializing time is a great way to do this, especially when an employee is starting out.
“We invite new recruits to all the team functions we have planned and we communicate too much,” says Askwith. “We want them to participate and be part of the team as soon as possible.”
Regular socializing events create a strong culture and help every employee feel more connected.
5. Invest in the growth of your employees
Successful store owners invest in improving their employees. “New hires thrive when you help them with ongoing education, certifications, communication, and leadership training,” Whatley says.
The best workshops incorporate professional development, as well as vehicle work. Take care of your team, and they will be loyal. They will improve, become allies, send referrals and become ambassadors.
“We actually train from two weeks to 30 days, with 30 days being the optimum,” Askwith says. “We make sure to contact each new hire often to answer questions, manage any concerns and ensure they receive everything they need to be successful.
Simplified training and orientation is just the start. The more you invest in the ongoing training of new hires (and all employees), the better they can improve at their jobs.
Growth in new hires happens when they are equipped with the tools to succeed. Create an onboarding process that represents the value of your store and business.