The Value of Thorough Interviews

Before I get to sharing some thoughts on interviewing, I wanted to say thank you to all the readers of NOLN. It has been an amazing year of sharing business ideas and insights from an operator’s perspective. I have enjoyed feedback from readers either by email or LinkedIn messaging. It is always a good feeling to hear that someone had a positive “ah-ha” moment from reading one of my articles. Thank you to those that have reached out, to those that have given me feedback and to NOLN for this opportunity.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it has been a struggle to keep our locations properly staffed over the past year. One of the side effects of a growing economy and a robust job market is the fact that there is a shortage of available potential employees. We have struggled to attract qualified individuals and keep our labor and overtime budgets in line. It seems we have had several employment ads running for extended periods of time!

Many of our managers have shared how difficult it has been to get people to show up for interviews. They turn in applications, schedule an interview time and then never show up. I have to admit, I was a non-believer until I decided to schedule some interviews myself. One day last month, I had eight interviews lined up, and only two bothered to show up. No call. No email. Nothing. Needless to say, the two who did show up got more of my time and attention than I would normally give during an interview.

One of the two individuals I had the pleasure to interview came from a motorsports background. I have interviewed many people with many different backgrounds over the years. I have interviewed and hired individuals with backgrounds consisting of car dealerships, mechanic shops, tire stores, etc. This was the first time I had interviewed someone coming from a motorsports background. Since I enjoy motorsports, I was immediately interested in talking with the candidate about his experience and how it might cross over into our world.

During the interview, I let the candidate talk about his experience, how they measured their success and what he did to help improve operations and profitability of the motorsports dealership. It became apparent to me that there are areas of our businesses that are very similar. Although the target numbers may be different, areas of measuring success that were similar were labor, guest count, ticket averages, net sales and the number of services performed.

I learned some things during the interview that I am using to help improve the efficiencies of our business. I picked up some tips on how to measure the efficiency of the mechanics and the importance of labor dollars billed as opposed to just measuring overall labor. When performing preventive maintenance services like transmission flushes, fuel injection cleaning or even oil changes, many of us charge a set price no matter the type of car. Maybe you make an adjustment for fluid type or filter cost. Rarely, though, is there a “labor” rate or book rate of labor we are charging for a service like that.

Now that I have recently introduced some light repairs, brakes and tires into some of my locations, I have more skilled labor that I am employing to do those services. Many of those skilled employees come at a higher cost and require more advanced training. While my “ticket average” in locations doing more services has increased and we are achieving success, the measurement of that success is lacking. However, using the knowledge I gained from this interview, I am now implementing reports to measure the return on the labor of our mechanics, the billable hours we are billing and our overall efficiencies.

The point I am trying to make is that even though it is hard to find employees and difficult to get interviewees to even show up, don’t give up. Every once in a while, you might come across a learning experience such as I did. This learning will help me improve the success of our repair business and help me better understand the success of each of my mechanics at our different locations. If this tidbit of information doesn’t help you or is something you are already doing, maybe you can share something you have learned in an interview. Reach out, and share with me today!

Sean Porcher

SEAN PORCHER is a veteran operator in the quick lube industry, having owned and operated up to 54 locations across six different states. After significantly reducing his operating footprint, Porcher helped launch Throttle Muscle as a way to help raise money for charity while providing operators high-quality products with increased profit earning potential. Porcher also teaches business strategy courses at his alma matter, Cal Poly, SLO. He can be reached at: sporcher@throttlemuscle.com