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   Most dealerships hire some seasonal help when things get busy during the spring, summer and early fall months. Here are three things that can help you leverage your seasonal positions to give your dealership a big boost during the high season.

1. Interview with expectations.

   Make it a practice to interview each of your seasonal employees. Many times, these candidates are high school students applying for their first summer jobs. Focus on the mission and why the job is important. Instead of emphasizing the pay, put the focus instead on what the candidate can learn, and why the role is so important to the overall success of the dealership. When the interview is complete, the candidate should be able to clearly articulate the responsibilities associated with the job and how his or her performance reflects on the dealership. Keep in mind that even lower paid, entry-level positions should have high expectations set in the interview.

   One particular dealer has an excellent approach to this interview process. He sits down with each candidate and explains in detail that he or she is more important to his business than a full-page, color advertisement. As his employees, he explains that they will be setting the first and last impression for many of the dealership's customers and because of this, he emphasizes the need to greet the customers with a smile, strong eye contact and a great handshake. Then this dealer actually makes his season candidates role-play customer interaction during the interview. Many of them have to give it a second or third try before they meet his standards, but they have a very clear understanding of what is expected of them when they are offered the job.

2. Start them out right.

   Spend some time on seasonal employee orientation, and give these employees clear direction on all the things they will need to be successful. One of the most important things to identify up front for these is employees is their "boss," or the person to whom they will report directly. If you don't assign them a mentor, seasonal employees can have a tendency to find their own, and it may not be the one you would have picked as a shining example. Many times, several different employees or departments within the dealership are counting on the support from the seasonal staff. This can cause confusion and make it difficult for a seasonal staffer to know how to prioritize, or whom to ask for direction.

   Give clear instructions on everything expected of them. Fill them in on details like where to park, when to take breaks and where to take them, when to use their cell phone, what to wear, when they will be paid, and what they should do in an emergency. Even a small amount of time spent in the beginning will make a tremendous difference and increase the overall benefit of each seasonal employee to the dealership.

3. Recognize good work.

   Make a point to catch your seasonal employees doing things right, and you will help develop good habits. Be sure to praise a job well done. Everyone makes mistakes so when you see something that was done incorrectly ask yourself first, " Have we shown this person the way it's supposed to be done?" Use mistakes as  positive training opportunities. Try to stay true to the mantra, " praise in public, criticize in private."

   When dealerships look for areas to cut back, many make cuts in support staff. Some quickly notice significant drops in shop efficiency as a result. This is a sign of excellent support staff that has a great impact on profitability. People enjoy being a part of an important mission. Make your seasonal support mission clear with solid objectives in the interview process, the orientation and through noticing exceptional work. When it's time to look for additional help in the yard, at boat shows, for events or any other aspect of the business, aim high and expect excellence. If you expect it, you are far more likely to receive it.

Developing a Sensational Seasonal Support Staff