Springboard to Recovery in the Truck and Van Industry?

Blog post   •   Oct 20, 2010 16:39 BST

The signs are all around us – the commercial vehicle market is finally turning a corner – new van registrations are heading (slowly) back to the pre-recession levels and truck registrations appear to have stopped the rot at least.  With better times around the corner, is it time to think about gearing up your workforce to increase your sales and productivity?

 Deadwood Gone?

Although they would never admit it, many companies have used the recession as an opportunity to rid themselves of the deadwood in their businesses.  As business picks up, it is important to take people on to keep up with demand – as far as sales teams are concerned, you need to be there before demand increases.  There is little point in watching your competitors’ truck sales increase and then decide to recruit some new salespeople.  The recruitment lead-time means that you could be many months behind the growth curve – missing out on vital sales.

Finding the Right People

It is important not to panic and to take someone on just because they are available.  Building up a new pile of deadwood as the market picks up is not in anyone’s interest.  The problem is, finding the right person is incredibly time consuming – and costly too.

Whether advertising locally for staff or nationally in the trade press for specialist people, the newspapers and magazines know how to sharpen their pencils when it comes to recruitment advertising.  This is great for times when you are looking for a number of people and can take the time to design a recruitment campaign and set aside plenty of interviewing time too.  Our advertising sales department would be only too glad to discuss advertising your vacant positions.

If you need just one person – the right person – then you may consider using a recruitment agency.  For administration and support staff, taking on a temp with a view to a permanent position is a tried and tested route for an extended probation period.

For more specialist van sales and after-sales staff you might consider a specialist recruitment agency.  It is the job of these companies to source experienced people and make sure that they have the relevant skills and experience to match the role you are trying to fill.

“This is a great time for people to recruit as we currently have some great people on our books,” says Focus People Solutions’ Kath Humphreys.  “Commercial vehicle dealers with memories stretching back longer than 24 months will remember having positions to fill and no quality people to fill them.  With the talent and experience of most of our candidates we are confident of putting the right person in for interview.”

She continues, “If you hang around for even clearer signals that we are heading for a full recovery you may find that you have missed the boat and the best truck and van specialist candidates will have already been snapped up.  Forward thinking companies are already approaching us to fill their vacancies before the recovery begins in earnest in the New Year.”

Drive a Bargain

It is in these times that you will be able to drive a hard bargain with recruitment companies – when more business is being done rates tend to harden.  Instead of paying a percentage of a salary, try and negotiate a fixed fee for finding a new member of staff – the recruitment companies are hungry for business in a declining market. 

Also think about the refund terms.  Try and negotiate a longer period where you will get a 100% rebate if the person doesn’t work out and extend the discounted period – don’t simply agree to the rate that the agency quotes on their first contact.

“We are as flexible as we can be to place the right person in the right position,” says Humphreys.  “We appreciate that times are difficult for commercial vehicle dealers at present and if we can help by finding them the right people and agreeing a rate that is acceptable to us all then everyone wins!”

Looking for a New Commercial Vehicle Position?

If you are out of work or simply fancy a change, it goes without saying that you should be scouring the trade press for vacancy ads.  Don’t forget though that many jobs are filled before they are even advertised.  Give yourself the best chance by joining at least one recruitment agency.

Make sure that you make clear not to contact your current employers, or if there are any potential employers that should be avoided, (your Boss’s brother, for example).  It is important to talk plainly and honestly with the recruitment consultant – you could waste everyone’s time going to unsuitable interviews otherwise. 

If you are going to an interview organised by the recruitment company get the recruiter to help you with as much background information about the company and interviewers as possible.  Then research the company yourself – find out about their products, how they operate and what others in the industry say about them. 

Remember it is a two-way street – the company has to sell itself to the candidate as much as the candidate has to sell themselves to the company.